Preserving Table Rock
Friday June 3, 2005
By Alice Mullaly
Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson
Two flat-topped mountains, Lower and Upper Table Rocks, rise sharply from Southern Oregon's Rogue River Valley floor. Hikers today, exploring these 800-foot high remnants of ancient lava flows, may find a spectacular display of wildflowers, seasonal ponds with rare fairy shrimp and never-ending views across the surrounding valleys and mountains. But in 1973 there was a threat to this natural wonder.
Local newspapers announced developers' plans for a residential community on privately owned Lower Table Rock. Local citizens, wondering what could be done to preserve this mesa, formed a study committee to find out. Among the many contributors to this project were wildflower photographer Arliene Thompson and amateur naturalist Kit Leavitt. These two women raised awareness and concern through illustrated lectures given to women's clubs, church groups and Granges. By 1974, the study committee had interested the Nature Conservancy, an international organization committed to "saving the last great places on earth." As a result, the Conservancy bought land on Lower Table Rock in 1979.
Today, because of Thompson, Leavitt, and others, the BLM and a private cattle ranch on adjoining land, work with the Conservancy to protect the Table Rocks and provide public accesses. Each year more than 10,000 people hike and enjoy these amazing geographical features.
Today's episode of As It Was was written by Alice Mullaly, the program engineer is Raymond Scully. I'm Shirley Patton. As It was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. To Share stories or learn more about the series visit asitwas - dot- org
Medford Mail Tribune, Hamilton, Eva, "Group Organizes to Seek Preservation of Table Rocks, Kelly Slough", Nov. 30, 1973; "Opinions on Preserving Kelly Slough Area Discussed", Jan. 20, 1974; "Table Rock Preservation Group Mulls Alternatives", March 17, 1974; Hamilton, Eva, "Table Rocks Group Hears from Nature Conservancy", May 1, 1974; Watson, Sue, "Two Local Areas to Be Preserved", Dec. 6, 1978. Unpublished diaries of Arliene Thompson for 1973, 1974 in the author's collection. Nature Conservancy website, http://nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/oregon/preserves/art6805.html
; Medford District BLM website about the Table Rocks http://www.or.blm.gov/medford/environmental_ed/table_rocks/program/program.html#Registration