Bird Creek Meadows: good, bad & the ugly

Cry the Beloved Meadows 

by Darryl Lloyd

The Bird Creek Meadows—largely within the Yakama Nation Mount Adams Recreation Area—is one of the most treasured subalpine parklands in the Cascades. Its spectacular wildflower displays are well-known to botanists and nature lovers across the country. The Native Plant Society lists 162 plant species, including 10 conifers. On the mountain’s southern slope, over 100 glades and meadows form a triangular area between 5,700 feet and 7,100 feet. Tumbling down through the beautiful meadows are about a dozen spring-fed streams, most of which flow into Bird Creek.

On Sunday (9/3/17), Darvel and I checked out trails and documented extensive cattle trespass and adverse impacts in the Bird Creek Meadows within the Yakama Reservation boundary. (Note: Friends of Mount Adams are partners in the Washington Trails Association’s trail-maintenance project. Access by road to Bird Lake and the meadows has been closed to the public for the past two years, but we went in as part of the WTA group.)

The Good
WTA volunteers did a wonderful job of repairing and improving the Bird Lake Tr., Bluff Lake Tr., Round-the-Mountain Tr. and Trail of the Flowers.
The Bad 
(1) The Bird Creek road (Rd. 285) to Bird Lake is in, by far, the worst condition we’ve ever seen it. The road is very nearly impassable. (2) The Yakama Nation drift fence was in disrepair. Only part of it had been put up as of September 3rd. However, cattle have been passing through it freely all summer—as they did during the 2016 grazing season.
The Ugly
We counted at least 17 trespassing cows, yearling calves and a large bull in two different parts of the meadows. Most of the cattle were seen along Crooked Creek above the falls. Evidence clearly shows that cattle have grazed heavily throughout the Bird Creek Meadows for the past two years. Parts of the meadows look and smell like beaten-down cow pastures. Riparian areas are being trampled and severely impacted in a number of ways. For example, along streams nearly every clump of late-blooming Lewis’ monkeyflower has been eaten. Plant processes important for survival will undoubtedly be affected, because very few blooms or seed pods remained.
What now?
We immediately called and reported the trespass to the owner of the cattle, Neil Kayser family of Centerville, Washington. They refuse to chase out their cattle until the Yakama Nation puts up their fence properly. The Bird Creek Meadows parklands are being severely degraded from repeated, illegal grazing. For the last two years the Yakama Nation has failed to keep them cattle-free.
– Darryl Lloyd

Approaching the Yakama Nation Mount Adams Recreation Area by the Bird Creek road (Rd. 285), Sept. 3, 2017

New sign at trailhead near Bird Lake

Washington Trails Association volunteers work on the Bluff Lake Trail

New bridge over Crooked Creek, on the Bird Lake Trail

At least 12 cattle—cows, yearling calves and a bull—near Crooked Creek

 

Wetland below Round-the-Mountain Trail

Trampled bank of the frog pond, also heavily grazed meadow

Clumps of late-blooming Lewis’ monkeyflower and other plants trampled and eaten by cows

Cows ate monkeyflowers during their blooming stage

Almost no monkeyflower blooms or or seed pods clusters remained along the many streams

Amazing widflowers on August 21, 2013

Cattle impacts & erosion, done during the 2016 season—15 cow pies counted within about a 25-30 ft. radius

Grazing impacts along Round-the-Mountain Trail

Yakama Nation drift fence on 9/3/17

Broken cattle guard on Bird Creek Road, 9/3/17

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FOMA Continues to Monitor Cattle on Mt Adams

FOMA Board member Jocelyn Akins visited Bird Creek Meadows on August 5, 2017 and took this picture of grazing cattle in subalpine meadows near Crooked Creek. It has been a continuing project of FOMA to monitor these intrusions and to … Continue reading

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Bird Creek Meadows Bench Lake Trail Camp

Join Work Party Overview Volunteer for one or more days, enjoy Saturdays Potluck dinner and stay for an extra day of hiking on Labor Day! Help WTA and Friends of Mount Adams restore trails at Bird Creek Meadows and Bench … Continue reading

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FOMA Participates in March for Science

On April 22, 2017, Friends of Mt Adams had a table and joined in a march in White Salmon, WA, for the nationwide March for Science events to protest policies that do not follow rigorous science. The glaciers on Mt … Continue reading

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Bird Creek Restoration 2017

Friends of Mt Adams in cooperation with the Washington Trails Association will host a Trails and Ales event to publicize our project to repair the trails in the Bird Creek Meadows area. When: Wednesday, May 10. Where: Logs Inn, BZ … Continue reading

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Update on the cattle-grazing/drift fence issue

Because of the 2015 Cougar Creek Burn on Mt. Adams, cattle trespass probably won’t be a problem for at least a couple of years. Most of the forage area burned and will have to recover before grazing permits are issued by the … Continue reading

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Mt Adams Cattle Fence Report — The Fence Is In

I took the low route last weekend backpacking up road 150 and the Snipes Trail. The heat was kind of brutal but the payoff was gorgeous camping in the meadows. Fence examination was Aug 1, walk up the trail to … Continue reading

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MT. ADAMS HIKING DAY – Saturday, July 11, 2015

Sponsored by the Friends of Mount Adams

 

Featuring:  Three beautiful all-day hikes on Mt. Adams: two on the southeast side and one on the southwest side, ranging from “moderate” to “strenuous”, led by 6 knowledgeable FOMA board members.  Plenty of time for wildflower viewing/identification, photography, interpretation of the natural and cultural environment, climate warming impacts, stories of the colorful history, and getting to know new friends. Only 12 persons max. per group.

 

Hike Descriptions:

 

  1. Bird Creek Meadows Loop (Moderate: about 6 mi. r.t., less than 1000 feet elevation gain/loss, all on trails within the Yakama Nation Mt. Adams Recreation Area. Starting at Bird Lake (el. 5,585 ft.) on the mountain’s SE side, hike the Crooked Creek Falls Trail, Trail #9 through the famous meadows (av. elev.  6,140 ft) ; take a small loop up to Hellroaring Ridge for spectacular views (about 6440 ft.); then back to the B.C. Meadows picnic area, returning to Bird Lake via the Bluff Lake Trail. Highlights: flower-lined streams and subalpine meadows, waterfalls and lakes; variety of birds; views of Mazama Glacier, Hellroaring valley, Glenwood Valley and Columbia Hills in the distance. Leaders: Jurgen Hess, (hess@gorge.net , 541-645-0720, assisted by Bill Weiler.

 

  1. Horseshoe Meadow (Moderately strenuous: about 8 mi. r.t., 1,800 ft. elevation gain/loss on the mountain’s SW side, all on trails within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Hike the Stagman Ridge Trail (t/h 4,193 ft.) entering the Mt. Adams Wilderness and gradually ascending through a partially burned forest with wildflowers, meadows, and a few small streams. Join the Pacific Crest Trail at 5,800 ft., and continue into lovely Horseshoe Meadows (5,920 ft.). Optional short off-trail loop above the meadows. Highlights: recovering vegetation from the 2012 Cascade Creek Burn, wonderful views of  the valleys, Mt. Hood, Indian Heaven, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Adams’ rugged SW face; wildflowers, meadows, streams, and birds.  Leaders:  Darvel Lloyd (darvlloyd@gmail.com) , 503-251-2784,  assisted by Cheryl Mack.

 

  1. Ridge of Wonders Loop (Strenuous, mostly off-trail: about 8 mi. r.t., 2,100 ft. elevation gain/loss, in Yakama Nation Mt. Adams Recreation Area. Start at  Bench Lake (4,920 ft.), drop to 4,760 ft., and take an old trail to Island Spring Camp at 5,320 ft. Then ascend off-trail to a spectacular viewpoint on the Ridge of Wonders (6,830 ft.). Descend to a saddle, then optional climb of Little Mt. Adams cinder-spatter cone (6,800 ft., 360 ft. vertical). Return by way of Hellroaring Meadow and Heart Lake. Probable wading of marshy area on return. Highlights: east-side vegetation, views of Klickitat Glacier cirque and Big Muddy canyon, possible mountain goats. Leaders:  Darryl Lloyd (longshadow@gorge.net , 541-387-2217,  assisted by Dean Myerson.

 

Cost:  Free of charge, except for a small voluntary contribution to the driver for gas, wear & tear. Options 1 and 3 require a $5.00/car day-use permit from the Yakama Tribe, collected at their Mirror L. entrance.  Option 2 requires a NW Forest Pass or Golden Age “Passport” per car.  Maps and all other details (meeting time and place) provided by Hike Leader.  Please register with the leader of the hike you’d like to attend. Give names, email addresses and phone numbers (incl. cell numbers).

bird_ck_mdw

Many flower-filled meadows and glades, and a dozen crystal-clear streams make up the subalpine parkland of Bird Creek Meadows. The famous meadows form a mile-and-a-half-wide triangular area, beginning at 5,700 feet and ending at 7,100 feet below a towering moraine of Mazama Glacier.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Horseshoe Meadow is an island in the 2012 Cascade Creek Burn on Mt. Adams’ southwest side.  The rapidly receding White Salmon Glacier lies below The Pinnacle and summit cone, with Pikers Peak on the right.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Hikers on the Ridge of Wonders head toward the Klickitat Glacier cirque — second largest active glacial cirque in the Cascade Range.  From the north edge of the ridge, one can look a thousand feet down into Big Muddy canyon and across to Avalanche Valley on the east side. Above the hikers, the summit is about 3.5 miles away and 5,500 feet higher.

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Summary of FS/YN grazing/drift fence meeting in Trout Lake on Oct. 28, 2014

The meeting was held in Mose’s office at the Trout Lake Ranger Station on Oct. 28, 2014. Present were Mose Jones-Yellin (Mt. Adams District Ranger), Mitch Wainwright (Range Manager for GPNF and Wildlife Biologist for Mt. Adams R.D. and Mt. … Continue reading

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Board approves new Collaboration with Cascade Carnivore Project

At it’s Fall planning meeting, the Board of Directors approved a new project to collaborate with the Cascade Carnivore Project (CCP) to produce educational materials with the results of the scientific surveys that CCP is doing on Mt. Adams and other nearby … Continue reading

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