Get up close with 'unique' plant life

Tours of Pine Hill Preserve begin in April
By: Brad Smith, Telegraph Correspondent
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Thanks to a program from the Bureau of Land Management, El Dorado Hills residents and others from the area will be able to learn about plant life that’s unique to the region. “For the last few years, the BLM has been sponsoring tours in the Pine Hill Preserve,” said BLM public affairs representative David Christy. “The western region of El Dorado county is unique in that eight rare plant species are growing in the reserve. Nearly half of those plants are native only to the Pine Hill area. That’s why the preserve was established in 2001.” Julie Wynia, a BLM intern who works at the reserve, said that the preserve is centered around Green Valley Road and stretches from Folsom Lake in the north to Highway 50 in the south. Pine Hill Preserve contains a total of more than 4,746 acres with a high diversity of native plants. The preserve is divided into five areas: Cameron Park Unit; Pine Hill Unit; Penny Lane Unit; Martel Creek Unit; and Salmon Falls Unit. Wynia said that the preserve’s unique soil composition enables the plant life to thrive. “The soil is iron-rich and has other vital properties in it,” Wynia said. “Many of the unique plant species native only to this region, such as the Pine Hill flannelbush or the El Dorado mule-ear, are doing well due to this equally unique soil composition. I believe that’s what makes this area interesting to nature lovers and scientists alike.” People do want to know more about Pine Hill’s unique, diverse biosphere. “That’s why we have these free tours,” she said. Wynia said the guided field tours will take place on Saturdays, starting in late April. “All of the tours will start at 9 a.m. and end around 1 p.m.,” she said. The tour dates are: Saturday, April 30 — Cameron Park unit Saturday, May 7 — Pine Hill unit Saturday, May 21 — Pine Hill unit Saturday, June 4 — Kanaka Valley/Salmon Falls unit Wynia said that those going on the field tours should bring a lunch or snacks, water, sturdy shoes, hats, sunscreen and insect repellent. “We’ve had a strong response from both the public and schools about the field tours,” Wynia said. “I hope many people will take advantage of the field tours. You can turn on the TV and watch a program on unique ecosystems. But, here you have one in our own area. It’s a great recreational and educational opportunity.” Space is limited. Wynia said each field tour group is limited to 25 people. For more information, please contact the BLM’s Mother Lode Field Office at 5152 Hillsdale Circle, El Dorado Hills, or call (916) 941-3101 or (916) 941-3134.