On January 18th, Friends of the Inyo, in cooperation with the Inyo National Forest, celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with a volunteer cleanup at the Buttermilk Boulders in Bishop, CA. Despite a snowy, overcast start to the day, 17 hardy volunteers picked up trash and delineated parking areas contributing more than 51 hours of service valued at $1,150 to the popular climbing area. Between November and March the Buttermilk sees peak usage by rock climbers from all over the world, and this high use is especially hard on the vegetation in the Buttermilk, which is fragile and can take years to grow in the harsh, arid climate. Damage to vegetation from parking, walking or camping outside of established areas causes significant erosion and negatively impacts on both the slope and the watershed. Projects like the MLK Day clean up can go a long way toward protecting this environment.
Assisting Friends of the Inyo staff, volunteers picked up 150 lbs. of trash including broken glass, barbed wire, broken pallets, plastics, and other items from between boulders and at a few nearby campsites. They also delineated the parking lot by lining the perimeter with boulders and rocks gathered from outlying areas and dispersed three fire rings from undeveloped, inappropriate campsites. Volunteers protected islands of vegetation by lining them with rocks and removing short cut paths between them. Katie Rodriguez, an AmeriCorps member with Friends of the Inyo, is thankful for the help. “In total, volunteers cleaned up and helped restore about 40 acres of the Buttermilk. It’s great to see locals and visiting climbers give back to an area they love so much.”
Rodriguez would also like to thank Great Basin Bakery and the Access Fund as well as fellow AmeriCorps members Catherine Tao and Marty Purdy for supporting the event. As the season progresses, Friends of the Inyo and the Inyo National Forest will welcome volunteers to two more Buttermilk Clean Ups. The next project is scheduled for Saturday, February 27th.