Volunteers Needed to Clean Up Virtue Flat

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By JAYSON JACOBY

Of the Baker City Herald

When you and your motorcycle are in mid-air, the line between fun and multiple fractures is thin enough without a slippery cheeseburger wrapper blowing in to botch your landing.

On Saturday you'll have a chance to prevent such pratfalls.

To celebrate National Public Lands Day, the BLM is organizing a clean-up at the agency's Virtue Flat off-highway vehicle riding area east of Baker City.

Volunteers will gather at 9 a.m., then spread out into the sagebrush to collect litter, install signs and repair fences, said Polly Gribskov, a recreation planner for BLM's Baker Resource Area.

To get there, drive on Highway 86 east of Baker City toward the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.

At the entrance to the center, turn right onto Ruckles Creek Road. Follow the gravel route about three miles east to the main parking area, on the right side of the road.

Volunteers should bring sturdy footwear, gloves, and a lunch Gribskov said.

BLM will supply drinks and snacks.

And don't forget a hat the sun's supposed to shine Saturday, with temperatures climbing into the 80s.

Gribskov hopes to finish several tasks Saturday, including:

o Installing signs along some of the main trails.

o Erecting a bulletin board at the parking area, giving BLM officials a place to post maps and other information.

o Repairing fences and the loading ramp at the parking area, and spreading gravel.

o Gathering litter around the parking area, and along the network of trails.

If there's enough time and sufficient volunteers, Gribskov also wants to install fences around dangerous mining shafts in the area.

BLM designated Virtue Flat as an off-highway vehicle riding area in the early 1980s, Gribskov said.

The agency removed the vault toilets from the parking area several years later due to rampant vandalims.

Gribskov said she would like to add toilets and other amenities, and she plans to apply for state grants to do the work.

More information about Virtue Flat, and about Saturday's event, is available by calling Gribskov at 523-1256.

13007707
The Baker City Herald
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