Video Courtesy of Peter Kleinhenz
The Yreka phlox (phlox hirsuta)dots the landscape of Yreka's hillsides and valley from March to June. The Yreka phlox is both a pride of Yreka and conservation concern. The recorded history of the Yreka phlox dates back to 1876 when Edward L. Greene described and collected specimens of the phlox hirsuta from the local area. However, the flower has since been placed on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and State endangered species list.
Efforts to conserve the Yreka phlox originally began in 1975 when, in a report to Congress, the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution included it on a list of endangered plants. In 1984, The Nature Conservancy dictated that China Hill and Soap Creek Ridge warranted protection as part of their Element Preservation Plan. The City then became involved alongside The Nature Conservancy in 1986. In 2000, phlox hirsuta was placed on the Federal endangered species list by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and an official Recovery Plan for Yreka phlox was released by the agency in 2006. Multiple organizations have come together to support recovery efforts, but the flower's biggest conservation proponent was the late city attorney Larry G. Bacon, who died in 2004.
For more information or to contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the Recovery Plan for Phlox hirsuta, please visit the Yreka Fish and Wildlife Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Yreka phlox ( phlox hirsuta) is only found in five locations in and around Yreka: China Hill in Yreka; on the north and south sides of Greenhorn Creek, west of the Yreka city limits; on the western edge of Yreka near Jackson Street; and in the vicinity of Soap Creek Ridge and Cracker Gulch, southwest of Yreka. Growing in serpentine soils (soils derived from igneous rock containing high concentrations of iron and magnesium) at elevations between 2,800 and 4,400 feet, the species is in association with Jeffery pine, incense cedar, and western juniper.
Producing bright-rose to white flowers from April to June, the Yreka phlox is a perennial in the phlox family, growing from two to almost six inches tall. While other phlox species occur in the county, the Yreka phlox can be easily identified by the presence of long, stiff hairs covering the plant and rounded, as opposed to notched, petal tips.
Public Conservation Efforts
The Yreka phlox Recovery Team has developed a few strategies for enhancing public awareness, understanding and participation in Phlox hirsuta recovery. The public can get involved in the conservation and recovery project through building informational displays for the local area, participating in the annual Siskiyou County Wildflower Show on Mother's Day, sponsor or aid in the development of a China Hill interpretive display, or help with long-monitoring of Phlox hirsuta populations.
Almost from the year he moved to Yreka in 1966, Larry Bacon worked for Yreka. Officially, Larry G. Bacon was the City Attorney from 1970 until 2002, spending the next two years as Deputy City Attorney. Unofficially, he was instrumental in numerous projects across Yreka and its local government from the Historic District to the Yreka Western Railroad and the Blue Goose Excursion Train to the conservation of the Yreka phlox on China Hill.
Bacon was a founding member of the Yreka phlox Recovery Team and was crucial in the City's initial conservation involvement on China Hill in 1986. On the Recovery Team, Bacon worked with members of the local community as well as individuals across the West Coast from state and national agencies, private companies and universities.
Following his sudden death from heart failure in 2004, the Recovery Plan for phlox hirsuta(Yreka phlox) was dedicated in his honor. The dedication reads: "This recovery plan is dedicated to the memory of Larry G. Bacon - whose vision for conservation of phlox hirsuta will continue to guide us all."
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