Month: July 2014

Sleeping Owl

VAN 115

I am proud of this one. While conducting follow-up visits for Northern Spotted Owls, we often only find one of a mating pair, or none at all. In this instance I was able to get the male to respond and when I first came under the owl I heard a faint whistle call of the female, but did not see or hear her again. After feeding the male to find that that they had no nest or fledgling juveniles, I did one last faithful scan of the trees to try to spot a nest or the female. Looking where I thought I heard the sound I suddenly saw her! What luck. These owls are extremely camouflaged and if they are still and silent, virtually impossible see. The pic is a shot through my binoculars.

The Jungle

ER 070

What do the mountains behind Ferndale look like right now? Thick, impenetrable, thorny, brush hell holes? Well, thats what they look like to a human being who is trying walk through them in the summertime. Its absolutely remarkable how persistent and vibrant these forest types are. Diverse in every way: from species composition to forest structure, these forests have it all. Its just not very fun to walk through.

Shoe Tree

VAN 113

The Shoe Tree. This uncommon variety springs strings up from time to time in across the country side. This one is on Highway 36, and if you spend any time driving over McClellan Mountain you know this tree. There used to another one, just a few miles west of here. It was close to the house that has the big wagon wheel set into wall above the driveway. I picked up a kid hitch hiking once years ago who lived there. He told me his dad started it, but eventually decided to cut it down as it became too much of a “thing”. He told me the final straw was noticing some ice skates in the tree. Well, now the legend lives on, in a place were the falling fruit is less likely to hurt anyone…

VAN 114

Crazy Trees

Look at this crazy Douglas-fir. This tree is in the stand I wrote about last time. Judging by its appearance, Id sat that this gnarly bastard has been around for a while. It is likely one of the parent trees that ultimately led to the widespread encroachment of this previous woodland.

MR 621 MR 618

I also came across this oddity. Well, at least it is unique to this particular stand and is pushing the extreme western portion of its range. Like the Douglas-fir above this tree appears to be a veteran is quite old. Can you tell what it is?

MR 617

Significant Change

Here are more pictures from forest stands that have completely succumbed to conifer encroachment. Prior to fire exclusion, these stands were dominated by California Black Oak. Now, all that is left are a few hold outs which are more or less walking dead in this forest. As you can see, many of the large oak stems left are in serious stages of decay and will likely be on the ground within the next 10 years.

MR 615

In Humboldt County, our true oak component is a relatively small portion of our vast forest resource (10-15%), however its value is much more than its spatial area. Most of these woodlands are old and support a diverse array of species such as big game, migrating tropical birds, and a host of small mammals and insects that all contribute to our forests food web.

MR 616

Much of the renaming oak woodlands are on a rapid trajectory to a similar fate as the stands pictured above. Sadly our forest regulation and policy is preventing widespread treatment of encroached woodlands. If I was to imagine something the Board of Forestry could do, it would be to create a special designation for oak woodlands in CA, allowing conditional permitting for management within woodlands. This means recognizing the private and public benefit of managing for forest resources that are not centered on forest products (MSP).

High Salt Ground

MR 606

This may look like a regular mountain meadow, but it has an interesting history. A local historian told me this story a few years back, hopefully Im remembering it right!

Apparently during the Indian Wars (1850s-1860s), the US carvery had captured a number of Nongatl Indians and were taking them to the Round Valley reservation in Covelo. By some luck, the Indians managed to escape. However their luck was not long lived, as they were attacked by Lassic Indians on their way home. When the survivors made it back to their territory with their tale, they set upon their revenge, with a little help from their neighbors.

It was at High Salt Ground where a coalition of tribes (Nongatls, Whilikuts, and Chilula) gathered before heading south to battle with the Lassic Tribe. This was in 1863.

This is a surprising story (to me) considering the amount of pressure all of the aboriginal people were facing from the US Calvary – who had been fighting with all of the tribes for over a decade. Chief Lassic had many incursions with the foreign invaders himself, being captured and escaping many times. Was this the best time to battle other Indians when they all were being attacked by the whites? Obviously these were people of principle, and when war was need, they were not making any exceptions.

Pilot Rock

MR 602

Approximately 40 – 50 miles east of Eureka, Pilot Rock was named by sheep herders who used the landmark to guide them from the coast to inland areas. In the late 1800s there was significant traffic along the major ridges in Humboldt and Trinity County, way more than there is now. Here are some pics I took a little closer to the rock a while back.

If you are interested in this area, check this out: Historic Trails of Pilot Ridge Country by Thomas Keter.

An Overview. Thomas Keter, the author of the paper I linked above, shows this picture in his paper. This is really cool, because you can really see the big picture. Im would be standing right below what is labeled High Salt Ground.  Check it out.

An Overview. Thomas Keter, the author of the paper I linked above, shows this picture in his paper. This is really cool, because you can really see the big picture. When I took the picture of Pilot, I was near what is labeled “High Salt Ground”.