Jul 5, 2007

Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center

Posted by Picasa 

Posted July 5, 2007

The Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center and wilderness area is the largest contiguous area of low-elevation old growth forest left in Oregon. Its ancient rainforest is a remnant of the forests which once blanketed the Pacific Northwest. 

The Center maintains and stewards Jawbone Flats, a rejuvenated historic mining town in the heart of the 35,000 acre ancient forestwhich lies in the watershed of the Opal Creek Wilderness and Scenic Recreation Area. 

Located on the west slope of the Cascade Mountains, and about and hour and a half east of Salem, Oregon, it is a wonderful destination for hiking and exploring or spending a special day with friends or family.

The site, that is now Jawbone Flats, is believed to have been a summer camp for the Santiam Kalapuya Indians. The Whetstone Mt. Trail, which crosses the Opal Creek Valley, is believed to have been a frequent trade route for area tribes and the mountian,itself, may have been a sacred site for their sacred vision quests. It is an ancient and beautiful site.... filled with trees, plants, wildflowers, and wild life of all kinds.

Jawbone Flats was developed as a mining camp when gold was discovered after miners arrived in the area in 1859. The Jawbone Flats mining camp was built beginning in 1930. Remnants of the old mining equipment, vehicles, buildings, household equipment and supplies can still be viewed in natural settings scattered amongst the cabins which house both paid staff and volunteers, who oversee the area and help with general upkeep, teaching duties, and cabin and building rental by individuals or school and other educational groups.

Shown above: 
The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation Environmental Education and Learning Center still under construction 
by our family based business Bilyeu Homes). 

We were invited to become involved in the remodeling (using as much of the original materials as possible) and along with our family and many friends, worked for about a year and a half on these projects.
A labor of love as well as deep respect for the area and all of the many people who have lived as well as worked at Opal Creek/Jawbone Flats over many many decades.

We are in the process of creating their new Environmental Center...a science education classroom, commisary, and gathering place for students and staff, which we are conscientously restructuring with the use of FSC lumber and other environmentally sensitive building materials.

Larry and Blake Bilyeu are currently involved in the restoration of the original Commissary into this environmental science education center as well as building a storage and utilities building.

Since, the Fourth of July was a necessary work day for our family, we combined it with a family outing. While the guys worked on the interior of the building, my daughter, daughter-in-law and I, hauled river rocks by wheelbarrow from all over the Jawbone Flats area to the building site for placement on the woodstove's hearth area.

We took a wonderful break by having a lovely picnic down by the fresh cascading waters of Opal Pool. As you can see by several of the photos in this collage, I had great fun draping one of my Patriotic Heartstrings quilts on a log suspended over Opal Pool or hanging by tree limbs by our picnic spot. 

It not only connected me with heartstrings to the trees, water, air and earth...it connected me with that world to this one.

Michele Savikko Bilyeu


Anonymous said...

Hi, your blog has some great pictures, I love it :-)

Shelina said...

What a great job! You get to be in beautiful surroundings, and make the world a better place to be, and with all that physical labor, you are bound to stay in shape.