About Us

We started as a loosely formed, grass-roots group of neighbors interested in keeping the public woods as natural, trash-free, and accessible, as possible.  With help from the BLM, we cooperated in some major clean-ups in 2017, including the removal of over a dozen junked cars, and the picking up and disposal of over 40 cubic yards of miscellaneous trash over a dozen sites, small and large.  Now, the woods needs our attention again! There is ever more trash, and the longer it sits, the more that gets added to it. When we pick it up, the woods gets a reset, and stops looking like a dumping ground, and so spots attracting so much additional dumping! Plus, more people in the woods, as groups, families, volunteers, tourists, hikers, riders, means more friendly eyes on the areas. There are currently more than a dozen junked cars in the woods. There are half a dozen major trash dumping sites, and at least a hundred tires. It takes funds, and many hands, to dispose of all of this. If you’d like to join in, please contact us! If you haven’t joined us at a cleanup event before, take our word for it: it is always fun and rewarding to remove the trash and give a natural area the reset it needs!

ECO-JoCo 2021! Campaign

End Clearcutting in Oregon – Josephine County – 2021! (ECO-JoCo 2021!) We used to just work on trash cleanup and care of the public woods. But, there are even bigger problems in the woods, and Sasquatch Woods People is turning an eye to the tragic clearcuts that have been tearing up the hills around our valley. Many of these are on private lands (largely owned by timber barons such as the John Hancock Company). These ecosystems are not going to grow back, ever, and it is simply unbelievable that it continues to be legal to strip the entire community of life off the side of a mountain, right down to the bare mineral soil. More information about this campaign can be found here. Also, please do contact us if you have ideas to share!

We should point out that most of the woods in the Holland area, that need attention, are public lands. Most of this is BLM, transitioning to National Forest well to the south. All of our cleanups on BLM land will be managed through a partnership with the BLM. However, the BLM has an enormous overall amount of woods to manage, and if we want attention on the quality of our woods, we need to lead with our own energy, locally, as the people who care about these woods the most.

Why Take the Time to Clean up the Woods?

The vast amount of public woodlands that surround our communities is our common inheritance and responsibility.  All woods support pure water, clean air and diverse ecosystems, but the proximity of those woods and hills that are near us makes them a special part of our community. They are accessible for use and enjoyment on a regular basis.  They can be part of our daily life in the form of firewood, hunting, and the gathering of a diversity of other non-timber products.  Even more importantly, they provide a beautiful place to find peace in nature, with hiking, picnicking, or simple solitude by a creek. 

Unfortunately, all too often, the public lands that are nearest to the community are the hardest hit by human use.  In the public woods surrounding the Illinois Valley, this begins with trash along the BLM roads and toxic dump piles just off the roads.  Day-users (or night-users) often come to the woods to party (you can tell by the trash left behind), go mudding, shoot guns at TVs and trees, or stash stolen vehicles.  Some even come just to drive as fast as they can on a curvy gravel road, and then drive right back, their interaction with the woods only a blur.  All of these activities show no appreciation for the woods itself, except as cover to keep the activity out of sight. 

So how can we change this?  First, we must all have respect and reverence for our woods and an appreciation for what they give us.  Second, we need to take responsibility for stewardship.  The woods cannot survive alone, and everyone who relies on them (which IS everyone) must participate.  Even if you don’t physically interact with the woods, you might interact by purchasing firewood, buying lumber, using paper products, or breathing air.  You can participate consciously by knowing how these products come to you and supporting those woods-workers who most carefully steward the woods.  When in the woods yourself, use care to avoid damaging trees and the forest floor, clean up after yourself, and be cognizant of your noise and its impact on the quiet, open space.  These individual actions are a starting point: forming a bond between self and woods.

Organized community efforts are equally necessary for enabling us to effectively protect the woods.  Community woodland stewardship groups might be formed to tackle discrete tasks like the clean-up of trash piles in favorite recreational areas, or development/improvement of a picnic area in an inviting location.  The immediate goal will be a community woods that is more inviting for recreation and for enjoyable, responsible use.  The presence and interest of more people in the woods will make it a much less comfortable place for irresponsible uses. 

The next level of organization for a community group would go deeper, seeking a new paradigm for managing the woods.  Extractive logging that takes resources without giving in return is unsustainable by any definition, and must be changed.  But this is a much larger topic and beyond the scope of this article.   

Some of us in the Holland Loop area have been forming a plan for beginning the community woodland process, in the foothills just above the Holland Store.  If you would like to get involved, contact us because we would love to hear from you!  Our hope is that the old roads, homestead areas, ponds, and woods, can be re-wakened with the sounds, past and present, of humans happily enjoying and being nourished by the woods.  This is what we believe the woods wants and will embrace.  Please contact us if you would like to help with the clean-up or if you would like to discuss ideas about a community stewardship group.