From sea level to the skyline, a group of volunteers spent a week in July working hard to restore wilderness character to a section of the King Range Wilderness. The target area was Big Flat, about nine miles north of Black Sands Beach. This “Big Flat Blitz,” was the first joint operation with Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Northcoast Environmental Center, and the Big Flat Trust.
The objectives were to remove invasive plant species and invasive marine debris. Non-native Monterey pines have begun to sprout up all over the hillside adjacent to Big Flat and are a concern as they could take over Douglas fir habitat. The crew gallantly battled through heaps of poison oak and used hand saws to weed out the trees.
Big Flat is also a Marine Protected Area. The crew held a beach cleanup along the three-mile stretch of beach that parallels the protected waters. Given the remoteness, the amount of marine debris collected was rather unnerving. All items appeared to have been at sea for a long time and were not left behind by hikers. The most common items were plastic water bottles, followed by pieces of hard plastic, rope, fishing gear, and a few odd flip flops. Much of the debris had Japanese characters on it. The material could be from the 2011 Japan Tsunami, or could be stray fishing gear. The BLM rangers reported that they see an abundance of marine debris like this daily, which suggests it could be collecting due to offshore currents.