50 years of the James Reserve: Activities honoring the reserve planned throughout summer

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Dr. Jen Gee, director of the James Reserve, speaking about the geology of Idyllwild and the history of the reserve Saturday evening. Photo by  John Drake

Dr. Jen Gee, director of the James Reserve, speaking about the geology of Idyllwild and the history of the reserve Saturday evening.
Photo by
John Drake

The James Reserve is celebrating its 50th anniversary on Sunday, June 5. But the reserve has not limited its celebration and activities to that single day, according to reserve Director Dr. Jennifer Gee.

On June 5, there will be presentations on its history of research, teaching, outreach and music. While this is by invitation only, many other events during the summer involve the whole Hill community.

These special events will be spaced throughout the summer. A photo contest of 50 years at the James will be held and exhibited at the Middle Ridge Gallery. Both the Art Alliance of Idyllwild and the Town Crier will help with the contest. Four of the photos will be published in the Town Crier’s calendar for 2017.

In partnership with the Idyllwild Nature Center, the reserve staff will develop a Junior Ranger Program. This program honors the reserve’s Trailfinders who were founded by Harry and Grace James, the donors of the reserve. The school was very successful. For more than 40 years, participants exceeded 40,000 boys.

“The basic idea is to develop a week-long program that will include daytime instruction in natural history and ecology, along with evening sessions devoted to the history of the area,” according to Gee.

On June 25, the reserve and the AAI will partner to create a youth art workshop that aims to marry science and art. Artists will work with kids to use art to explain and demonstrate the science. Jack Farley Art Supplies is a co-sponsor of the event.

Hill residents between ages 12 and 18 are invited to participate, but there is room for only 36. This will be an all-day workshop about science and art.

In the morning, the students will rotate through six different science stations. Fratello’s, another Idyllwild establishment, will supply pizza for lunch. In the afternoon, the six groups of six students will be paired with an AAI artist where they will create a piece of artwork inspired by the science projects from the morning.

In 1941, the Jameses acquired property, which is now the reserve, to be used as a campsite for the Trailfinders. In 1950, they completed Lolomi Lodge, now a private residence. They moved the Trailfinders’ base from Altadena to the Hill. In 1966, the Jameses sold their land to the University of California as a natural reserve. More history of the reserve can be found on its website, www.james.ucnrs.org/.

As part of the University of California’s Natural Reserve System, the reserve is officially designated the James San Jacinto Mountains Reserve. As one of the more than 30 natural reserves, the James and three others are administered by the biology department of the university’s Riverside campus.

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