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Hikers make their way along the rim of Upper Table Rock. BLM and The Nature Conservancy will celebrate 30 years of guided hikes on the Table Rocks with a Saturday event at Lower Table Rock. Mail Tribune file photo

Saturday bash celebrates 30 years of Table Rocks hikes

Two generations of Rogue Valley school kids have had the chance to get an up-close introduction to the Rogue Valley's signature mesas through guided hikes on field trips to the Table Rocks.

The Bureau of Land Management and The Nature Conservancy will celebrate their 30-year partnership in leading these hikes by holding a public birthday party for themselves and the community Saturday at Lower Table Rock.

Since this partnership was formed in 1986, 71,689 students have joined guides on Upper or Lower Table Rock, and another 7,826 people have taken part in the weekend hikes — all highlighting the flora, fauna and geological and historical aspects of the mesas.

"The exciting thing is that we've been able to touch the hearts of so many kids in the valley," says Molly Morrison, stewardship coordinator for The Nature Conservancy in Medford. "I hike with adults who still remember hiking up the Table Rocks with their school, and now they're doing it with their kids."

The free, family-oriented event will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Lower Table Rock along Wheeler Road off Table Rock Road in Sams Valley.

Activities will include hourly guided hikes on the half-mile interpretive loop trail, and kids will have an opportunity to earn a Junior Explorer Badge.

Takelma elder Agnes Baker-Pilgrim will share a blessing for the Table Rocks at 11 a.m.

Several organizations will be on hand to discuss some of their interactions and activities involving the Table Rocks and their management. Along with BLM and the Nature Conservancy, groups on hand will include the Ashland-based Klamath Bird Observatory, the Southern Oregon Historical Society, Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians, Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, Lomakatsi Restoration Project, Seven Basins Watershed Council and Southern Oregon Land Conservancy.

Limited parking is available at Lower Table Rocks, according to BLM's Molly Allen. Additional parking is available at the nearby Sams Valley Elementary School, 14235 Table Rock Road, and BLM has arranged for a shuttle to ferry people to and from the event, according to Allen.

People are encouraged to bring water and snacks. Restrooms are available on site.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

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