It pains us deeply to have to make this post but to leave what we found today unremarked would be a crime in its own right.
The Table Rocks – both Lower and Upper – have been favorite year-round short hike destinations for us ever since we moved south. One of the many pleasures of these hikes is to observe the seasonal round of the vernal pools that are unique to these locations. These pools are a rare habitat that supports a Federally-listed threatened species of fairy shrimp and a state-threatened plant called the dwarf wooly meadowfoam, a flowering plant currently, and historically, only known to exist around the edges of these pools. The existence of these rare species and their habitat is what caused the Table Rocks to be designated as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
During a hike today on Lower Table Rock, the LovedOne and I noticed what looked like posts off to the left of the trail about halfway to the South Viewpoint. On closer inspection, these proved to be rocks stacked into spires or cairns between a foot and four feet tall and placed all over what used to be one of the largest vernal pools. There were also stacks and rock walls built in the remains of the smaller vernal pool to the south.
Constructed rock cairns desecrating rare vernal pool habitat
Construction of the cairns trampled the vernal pool habitat
Close-up of the rock cairns and the trampled habitat
Whoever made these abominations had dug the rocks out of the pools and, in the process, had destroyed the pool bottoms, which the plants and animals, found nowhere else but here, need to survive during the dry summer months. Aside from selfishness and stupidity, we have no idea what motivated the cretinous vandals who unleashed this destruction nor do we care, as there is simply no justification, whatsoever, for this wanton desecration of these rare and unique natural features.
We’ve reached out to both the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and The Nature Conservancy – as they manage different parts of the Table Rocks – about this situation and we hope that they will follow-up on the federal and state crimes committed here. Whether restoration is an option, or whether the destruction has just been too great, remains to be seen.
In the end, to have come upon something like this in a place we’ve come to cherish, is sad and disheartening almost beyond imagining.
OTHERS HAVE SPOKEN OUT AGAINST SUCH BEHAVIOR