An Elementary Land Deal
Behind each piece of conserved land, there is a person - a farmer, a retiree, a carpenter - who took it upon himself to ensure that the land would be saved for future generations. In this case, it was an elementary school student named Brian Mulhollen who led the charge. Brian was an 11-year old student at Jacksonville Elementary School in 1994 when he asked the Medford City Council to give 9 acres of land, now known as the Quarry Property, to the City of Jacksonville to become part of the city’s natural park and trail system.
This beautiful wooded piece of land sits on the west end of California Street and includes a portion of the Jewish section of the Jacksonville cemetery and a rock quarry that was established in the early 1900’s. Gentner’s fritillary, a beautiful and endangered lily, grows abundantly on this land. In addition, the land provides a scenic backdrop to the western entrance of town.
“I spent a lot of time up there, riding bikes and just hanging out at the Cemetery,” says Brian. “I felt that it was important - even at 11 years old.”
The City of Medford couldn’t legally give the land away, but they did agree to sell it for the same amount they paid in 1914 for the property: $1,040 (though the land is actually worth over half a million dollars).
The City of Jacksonville contributed $540 to purchase the property. Brian and his schoolmates worked diligently to raise the rest of the funds needed.
This summer’s signing of a conservation agreement is the final step in a long process to ensure the permanent protection of the land. “We are grateful to the City Council for their vision to permanently conserve this land for the people of Jacksonville,” said Charley Wilson, president of the Jacksonville Woodlands Association, which helps manage over 320 acres of public land in the City.
The Southern Oregon Land Conservancy has conserved five additional parcels covering more than 100 acres in the town of Jacksonville over the past ten years. “We have made a commitment to the people of Jacksonville,” says Diane Garcia, the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy’s Executive Director, “to permently protect lands like the Quarry property. This iron-clad agreement ensures that the City’s commitment to keep this land open to the public will be upheld forever.”
The Jacksonville Woodlands Association plans to work with the City to conserve three additional properties. “Ensuring that the public lands in Jacksonville are protected through the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy is the best way to permanently preserve the wishes and investment of our community.” adds Wilson.
Today, Brian is a Fuels Management Specialist with the Bureau of Land Management. “I feel fortunate and blessed to have been part of preserving that land.” he says. “It kicked off my career.”
Photo at top of Brian Mulhollen next to the placard placed at the Quarry property in his honor
Photo in middle of Brian and his classmates visiting the Quarry Property in the early 1990’s
Photos courtesy of the Mulhollen family