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As It Was: Eight Dollar Mountain Provides Biological Diversity

In 2008, The Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department joined federal agencies and the Nature Conservancy in managing the Eight Dollar Mountain Botanical Area, recognized since the 1880s for its rare plants that grow in rocky serpentine soil.

The nearly 3,000-acre botanical area ranges between 1,200 and 1,400 feet elevation on the cone-shaped mountain, near the small town of Selma on the Illinois River Corridor.

The Oregon Register of Natural Heritage lists eight plant species first discovered on the mountain.  The U.S. Forest Service treats the west half of the mountain as a protected botanical area, while the Bureau of Land Management has developed an interpretive site and wheelchair-accessible boardwalk.  The Nature Conservancy maintains a 45-acre preserve on the east side of the mountain. 

One of the rare plants is the Darlingtonia californica, a carnivorous plant known commonly as the cobra lily, pitcher plant, or tube plant.

There are at least two theories how the mountain got its name, either the discovery of a gold nugget worth $8 or that a man wore out an eight-dollar pair of shoes walking around it.

Sources: Walter, Greg. "Eight Dollar Mountain." The Oregon Encyclopedia, Portland State University and the Oregon Historical Society, 17 Mar. 2018, oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/eight_dollar_mountain/#.XLomHehKiUl. Accessed 19 Apr. 2019; "Eight Dollar Mountain Botanical Area/Wild and Scenic Illinois River Corridor." USDA Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/regions/Pacific_Northwest/EightDollar/index.shtml. Accessed 19 Apr. 2019.

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.