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As It Was: Illinois Valley Garden Club Helps Protect Precious Botanicals

Eight Illinois Valley women organized the Friday Afternoon Garden Club in 1927, changing the name later to the Illinois Valley Garden Club.

They took their mission seriously “to conserve and enhance our natural beauty.” They collected books on native plants and wildflowers and after a few years’ study discovered one of Oregon’s most unique botanical areas right in their own backyard.  It was an arid desert landscape created by accumulated river rock surrounded by a forest environment along Highway 199 west of Cave Junction. 

Many rare plants and wildflowers grew around Rough and Ready Creek.  When commercial interests began hauling off truckloads of precious botanicals, club members paid for and erected “no picking or digging” signs and lobbied Oregon State Parks Superintendent Sam Boardman to make it official.  In 1938, the Bureau of Land Management set aside 90 acres as the Rough and Ready Creek Forest Wayside. 

The wayside became part of Oregon’s state park system in 1962.  Public access is allowed, but the Garden Club’s “no picking” rules still apply.

Sources: Illinois Valley Garden Club: A women's club establishes Rough & Ready Forest State Park, Illinois Valley Network. highway199.org. Accessed 21 Feb. 2018. Path: http://www.highway199.org/history/garden-club/; file:///C:\Users\Raymond\AppData\Local\Temp\msohtmlclip1\01\clip_image001.gifPfefferle, Ruth. "Just My Cup of Tea." Illinois Valley News, 1 Sept. 1983, p. 4. (Accessed in Josephine County Historical Society archives).

Lynda Demsher has been editor of a small-town weekly newspaper, a radio reporter, a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for the Redding Record Searchlight, Redding California. She is a former teacher and contributed to various non-profit organizations in Redding in the realm of public relations, ads, marketing, grant writing and photography.