Elk Creek Days

David Hays
Park Ranger, Rogue River Basin

Wet, cool weather didn’t dampen the enthusiasm for over 100 participants that joined the Corps for the first-ever Elk Creek Days. The Corps manages the 3,502 acre Elk Creek project area primarily for fish and wildlife conservation and enhancement, water quality and low-density recreation.

Ranger Jenn dressed as a Homesteader.

Ranger Jenn dressed as a Homesteader.

The Corps created a master plan to redevelop Elk Creek after receiving input from federal, tribal, state and local agencies and the interested public. “From that effort, a pretty strong consensus emerged as to what our new master plan should include,” according to Gail Saldana, the project manager for the master plan redevelopment effort.

Elk Creek Days, which is planned to become an annual event, celebrates Elk Creek’s new role as a recreation destination to view fish and wildlife, while limiting users’ impacts on the environment. The master plan included many small projects designed to meet this goal, including improvements to roads, bridges parking, picnic areas, restroom facilities and trails.

Park rangers planned an event-filled day of activities that were both educational and fun for all ages. Attendees ranged from a one-year-old taking his first steps to a 99-year-old who was thrilled to still be able to hike. The ranger walks were particularly well-received as they focused on the cultural history of the site, including Native American use, gold prospecting, and homesteading themes. The park ranger leading the walks even dressed in homesteading era garb.

Rangers who organized a 5k fun run for guests who wanted something more physically exerting. A bunch of hardy runners undeterred by the dampness took part. A bike race planned for the day was canceled due to the soggy conditions, but is scheduled for next year’s event.

In addition to the activities, the Corps and other organizations setup booths for guests to visit. Park Ranger Jenn Cutillo, dressed in period clothing, gave talks about how early settlers to Elk Creek shaped the environment. The Corps partnered with the Bureau of Land Management to host a booth about all things related to wildlife. And finally, United Bicycle sent volunteers with the tools and talent to fix and tune bikes for anyone whose bike needed it.

Top finishers of the Elk Creek Days 5k Fun Run.

Top finishers of the Elk Creek Days 5k Fun Run.

Many people contributed to making Elk Creek Days a success. Yong Ellis, Rogue budget tech, and her husband, Scott, volunteered to set up the welcome area and greeted everyone who visited. Longtime Rogue volunteers Jackie Morava and his wife, along with our new AmeriCorps intern Madison, all chipped in wherever there was a need.

Park rangers April, Jenn and Jessie collaborated to create a fantastic program of activities. Next year’s Elk Creek Days will build on the success of this year’s event with the goal of making it an annual tradition.