Black Butte Wild & Scenic River – Interpretive Hike, Monitoring and Beach Area Cleanup
On Sunday October 23rd, in celebration of the Tenth Anniversary of the North Coast Wilderness Bill, a group of volunteers gathered at the Covelo Eel River Campground and hiked into the Black Butte Wild and Scenic River to clean up beach debris from the summer’s visitors and explore the river. A geographically diverse group of participants came from Covelo, the South Fork Eel, the Mendocino Coast, Alaska and the south of France. After cleaning up clothing, diapers, plastic trash and a large number of discarded beverage containers at the well-used public beach, the group hiked further up the canyon into the much less traveled and wilder parts of the river. Rains had raised the river level so everyone’s shoes got wet. Although neither returning salmon nor steelhead fingerlings were encountered, a significant number of cyprinid minnows that were not previously familiar to any of the hikers were found in shallow pools.
Perhaps because the dispersed low light of a hazy day made the colors stand out, rocks became the focus of exploration, curiosity and conversation. Beautiful multicolored cherts in green, yellow, red or even intense grays, with inclusions in a variety of colors as unusual as purple caught hikers’ eyes. Rocks too big to carry were left in place or on top of rock pedestals. A few small souvenirs were pocketed to be admired and displayed at home.