The Arcata Community Redwood Forest

The Arcata Community Redwood Forest
Life in Northern California is impacted by the beauty of the majestic Coastal Redwood and its Ecosystem

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Jedidiah Smith State Park

Jedediah Smith 

Redwoods State Park

Jedidiah Smith Redwood State Park is named after Jedediah Strong Smith who explored the northern California interior in the early 1800s.  He explored and trapped the area starting in 1826 and pioneered a trail from Great Salt Lake through the Mojave Desert and into the San Bernardino Mountains in California.  In the mid-1800's, the California gold rush helped bring a rush of exploration of the area promoting supply routes to remote mining camps.  The exploration also helped populate the counties of Humboldt and Del Norte in northern California.

Jedidiah Strong Smith
What can you expect to find in Jedidiah? Besides redwoods, the park contains a diversity of conifers, such as the both the Douglas and Grand fir, Sitka spruce and western hemlock.  The madrone, California bay, Tanoak, beeches, both Big Leaf and Vine Maple and Red Alder are also found here.

The beauty of a redwood forest is made up of diverse both flora and fauna.  Not only are the trees majestic and magnificent, but the overall understory of sorrel ground cover, sword ferns, moss, lichens, red and evergreen huckleberry, thimble berry, blackberry and salmon berry bushes adds color and invites black bears, deer, mountain lions, skunks, raccoons, squirrels, beavers, foxes, chipmunks and birds, such as the pileated woodpecker, marbled murrelets, bald eagles and spotted owls  and other animals to feast on these food sources.

Yet, the most color and beauty comes from the pink and purple flowers of the California rhododendron and other azaleas during the spring.  The soil is rich and the matted ground cover is thick and spongy with needles and is the home to salamanders, mollusks, worms and banana slugs, as well as snakes.  Both the Smith River and Mill Creek contain both the king salmon and steelhead trout. The overall redwood ecosystem is rich in diversity.

Where To Go To See The Some Of The Oldest Redwoods
To see some of the oldest redwoods you will need to hike to Stout Grove.  It has one of the most abundant stands of old growth redwoods.  It is also very scenic for photographers looking for a good picture of a stand of magnificent redwoods without a lot of understory thus allowing defined photos of the tree.  The stand isn't very large and doesn't contain the biggest trees.  But Stout Grove is a must for visitors to Jedidiah Smith Redwood State Park who are looking for a serene place to gaze upon the wonder of the redwoods.  Stout Park is located at the junction of the Smith River and Mill Creek. Camping and fishing .
Smith River

Stout Grove
Stout Grove

For more information:

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bark of the Coast Redwood

The Bark of the Coast Redwood

The relatively thick bark of the Coast Redwood is considered a soft wood (compared to the hard wood of maple, oak and walnut trees) reddish-brown in color and resistant to rot.  The thick bark is one factor in containing any disease that should this species of Redwood as it is normally over 1 foot thick on mature tress.  In addition, insects are discouraged by the high tannin of the Redwood.

Even though the Redwood can usually withstand insects, disease and fire (due to the low amount of resin in the bark), the tree can often be felled  by highs winds and flooding. The combination of high winds and wet soil is what causes the most destructive damage in a windfall.  Treetop levels respond to harsher wind conditions by producing pale green, awl-shaped needles near the top of the tree; whereas, needles nearer the ground are darker green and more lush.  The tree lacks a taproot, but it has a shallow root system that seldom goes beyond 12 feet underground. These lateral roots are very large and have a wide range of about 60-80 feet that intertwine with other trees. Trees older than 20 years old have thicker bark with deep vertical grooves that help it withstand fire and various diseases including fungi.  Younger trees and seedlings are more at risk for disease and fire due to their lack of thick bark.

The Effects Of Fire In A Redwood Forest

Fire ecology in a redwood forest proves to be very beneficial.  It aids the nutrient recycling, clears the understory, controls forest insects and diseases and prepares the soil for seeds. Vulnerability is created in redwoods to disease and catastrophic large fires when natural fires are suppressed.

For more information:

Friday, May 6, 2011

Save The Redwood League

As I am unable to permanently add this wonderful organization to my blog, I have decided to just create a post for them.

Save the Redwoods League protects and restores redwood forests and connects people with their peace and beauty so these wonders of the natural world flourish.

Since 1918, Save the Redwoods League has saved ancient redwood forests and redwood ecosystems to ensure that current and future generations can feel the awe and peace that these precious natural wonders inspire. They also save redwoods because they are rare — their natural range is only in central and northern California and southern Oregon — and because they are Earth’s tallest and some of the oldest and most massive living things.

The coast redwood reaches higher than a 30-story building and can live more than 2,000 years. The coast redwood’s relative, the giant sequoia, can live more than 3,000 years and is Earth’s largest tree by volume, with trunks as wide as 30 feet (about as long as a large school bus). Also known as the Sierra redwood, the giant sequoia’s natural range is only in 75 groves on California’s Sierra Nevada.

After 150 years of logging and real-estate development, approximately 5% of the original 2 million acre coast redwood forest remains.

Even though they have survived for millennia, these giants still can be cut down for lumber or to make room for poorly planned residential and commercial real estate development.

Since Save The Redwood League's establishment more than 90 years ago, with their members' and partners' support, they have protected more than 189,000 acres and helped develop 63 redwood parks and reserves for everybody to enjoy.

They help to save the redwoods by:

Protecting redwoods by purchasing forests and the landscapes that support them at fair-market value from willing sellers. They donate or sell this land to California State Parks and other government agencies, which protect the forests as parks and reserves for everybody to enjoy. Save the Redwoods also protects redwoods by making land preservation agreements. These contracts between landowners and the League limit uses of property to protect qualities such as ancient trees, habitat for threatened species and recreation.

They restore logged forests to their majestic state by, among other efforts, removing roads, creating wildlife habitat and removing small trees that were planted too close together in post-logging reforestation efforts. This tree removal promotes faster growth of larger trees and other old-forest characteristics such as a dense canopy, clear-running, fish-filled streams, and abundant animal species that rely on old forests.

They inspire current and future generations to save redwoods by awarding education grants to organizations that help thousands of children and adults better understand and appreciate these trees.

Through their science and planning work, they learn what redwoods need to survive and then award research grants, and develop science-based plans to save redwoods throughout their natural range.

For more information on Save The Redwoods League, visit

Rare Dawn Redwood In Healdsburg, CA

The Coast Redwood and Giant Redwood has a relative named Dawn Redwood. The fast-growing Dawn Redwood is the shortest and a deciduous redwood.  Considered a ornamental tree, it is native to China.

There is a rare redwood in Healdsburg, CA.  It is the Dawn Redwood and it is the only redwood that looses its needles in the winter.

The rare Dawn Redwood in the background center
 The Dawn Redwood is almost a tree of legend, a mythical ancestor of the California redwoods long thought to be extinct.

The species thrived as one of the pioneer conifers from about 80 million years ago. Metasequoia glyptostroboides is the only deciduous conifer in the world that loses its needles every winter -- and only one of three trees known as redwoods. The others are the Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and the Giant Redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum) of the Sierra Nevada, more familiar forest friends by far.
It was first discovered as a Mesozoic fossil in 1941, and was therefore presumed extinct – the Mesozoic ended 70 million years ago. But in 1943 a small grove was discovered in Moudao, Hubei, China, and other forest discoveries proved it still vital, though rare enough to be considered endangered. Still, from extinct to endangered sounds like a success story.

Dawn Redwood with needles in summer
Same Dawn Redwood in winter without needles

The tree was planted in the Healdsburg Square in 1953 after being gifted to the city as a potted plant. Dawn Redwoods became something of a fad after World War II, and ambitious horticulturalists planted groves of the ornamental tree worldwide.
There’s even the Crescent Ridge Dawn Redwoods Preserve in North Carolina, founded in 1995 as a place to see this tree in a natural state in numbers up to 5,000 trees. As Redwoods grow very slowly, except for the Dawn Redwood, the park is not scheduled to open until 2035.

Below is a video about the Dawn Redwood tree that was acquired by a nursery.

 For more information about the Dawn Redwood Preserve, visit

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Humboldt State University

Humboldt State University Campus at night

While living in Northern California, I had the most wonderful time attending Humboldt State University.  As I mentioned before, I double majored in Marine Biology/Zoology with a minor in Wildlife Management.  The University is located in one of the most beautiful parts of California amongst Redwoods several miles from the Pacific.  It is not uncommon to hear of visits from wildlife to the campus.  Such animals spotted on campus have been cougars, raccoons, opossums and I believe I heard at one time a black bear.  For those individuals who want to attend a top notch university, especially majoring in the majors I studied, I would highly recommend this university.  It has exceptional faculty and challenging curriculum that teaches undergraduate research that is important to add on your curriculum vitae.  Below is some information I pulled off the HSU website regarding those departments that I was most affiliated with.

My friend and wildlife major, Stacy Gustin, holding a baby goose.
Arcata is home to Humboldt State University (HSU). I had the opportunity to attend this outstanding university.  It's biology and wildlife departments are outstanding.  As far as student performance, Wildlife students compete annually in the national quiz bowl against large research universities and have won six national championships during the last eight years. The undergraduate program is nationally recognized, as evidenced by the outstanding record of  the conclave team, which has won 21 out of the 33 years it has competed in a regional competition with schools from other western universities.  This competition is against those research universities throughout the United States. The Wildlife faculty is comprised of ornithologists and mammalogists with expertise in population ecology, animal behavior, wildlife-habitat relationships, disease, environmental ethics, animal energetics and community ecology. HSU’s Wildlife graduates do well as: wildlife biologists, wildlife refuge mangers, biological consultants, park rangers, conservation scientists, fish and game wardens, forestry technicians, range conservationists, and agricultural planners.

Daughter Jennifer spending time at the marine lab

Within the biology department, those who are interested in majoring in Marine Biology, the University has made the commitment to provide for state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories.  It has its own Marine Lab and its own Research Vessel, the Coral Sea.

Research Vessel - The Coral Sea
The Coral Sea is the only fully equipped marine lab and a true oceanic research vessel (the 90-foot RV Coral Sea) dedicated solely to undergraduate research and ocean-going vessel in America dedicated to undergraduate research.  I had the opportunity to spend many hours on this vessel doing field studies in both marine biology and marine ornithology. Humboldt State offers the only undergraduate oceanography program in California.

HSU's unique setting, just minutes away from ocean, estuary and lagoon habitat, provides students with unlimited research opportunities. Programs in geology, fisheries, mariculture, biology and related sciences involve undergraduates in the kind of research that many universities reserve for master's and Ph.D. students.
Because students learn best by doing, Humboldt State's dedication to hands-on learning gives the students the skills and real-world experiences they need to succeed in life after college.

HSU is situated within a pristine natural environment has all the important ingredients for exceptional student achievement that makes graduates highly sought after for positions in governmental agencies, graduate schools and in the private sector. In addition, there are facilities, such as fish hatcheries, botanical conservatories, greenhouse and more.

Finally, HSU has faculty mentoring with an emphasis on undergraduate research. HSU ranks first among all public masters universities in the western US in the proportion of our undergraduates who go on to successfully complete PhD. degrees in the sciences, mathematics and engineering.

HSU teaches what stewardship is all about.

FYI: The Aleutian Goose Festival Reinvents Itself

The Aleutian Goose Festival has been reinvented with a new name and date: the "California Redwoods Bird & Nature Festival" premieres May 6,7,8, 2011.

Every March from 1999 to 2008, the Aleutian Goose Festival celebrated the return of these endangered birds. Thousands of small Aleutian geese flocked to Castle Rock National Wildlife Refuge and the verdant fields of Del Norte County as a stopover on their spring migration route. Festival participants who joined the pre-dawn "goose fly off" witnessed firsthand the growing population of Aleutian geese each year and celebrated their recovery from near extinction. Today the Aleutian goose is a fully recovered species with a population surpassing 100,000. Sadly, the majority of geese that once visited our Crescent City shores each spring have moved on to "greener pastures" and now find nourishment in the rich bottom lands of Humboldt County.

The California Redwoods Bird & Nature Festival promises a better festival in many ways, notably because the festival shifts from wet March to warmer May. More birds will be migrating, courting, singing, and nesting. Alan Barron, Del Norte County's premier birder, reports that a single 'Big Day' foray one recent May observed 160 bird species. The new May date coincides with, and highlights, International Migratory Bird Day, celebrated every year on the second Saturday in May throughout the Americas. In addition, wildflower shows in Crescent City and Humboldt County occur on the adjacent weekends, assuring prime botanizing for native plant enthusiasts.

Rhododendrons will be glowing in the redwood forests and wildflowers everywhere will be showing off their blossoms. The high country of the Smith River watershed will be more accessible. The Klamath and Smith rivers will still be full of water for drift trips. Last, but not least, the weather will definitely be better-dry and warm (Organizers and participants remember only two sunny Goose Festivals in 10 years. This is no small thing as the horizontal rain cancelled ocean, lagoon and river boat trips).

Like its predecessor, California Redwoods Bird & Nature Festival will continue to focus on the outstanding natural features and cultural treasures of Del Norte County while offering many new programs and field trips. Keynote presenter Mike Fay, National Geographic's Explorer-in- Residence, will share discoveries from his recently completed yearlong 700-mile hike - Transecting the Redwood Forest. The weekend fare includes bird watching, nature excursions, plant walks, and local native heritage workshops. Much-loved community daytime and evening events from the Aleutian Goose Festival era will continue to delight attendees, such as the Wine & Food Tasting Gala, Wings & Whales Vendors Fair, Kid's & Goslings Corner, and Wild Birds of Prey on display.

So mark your calendars for this coming May 6-8, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Summary Of Our Old Growth Redwoods

An interesting video on the Summary Of Our Old Growth Redwoods.

This video is supposedly from the 1930s.  It gives a lot of interesting information about the Redwoods and how the California Redwood State Park came into existence.  It was the first state park as a monument to the Redwoods and the video touches on the California Conservation Corps and their help in both preserving and conserving the Redwoods. However, the video also talks about the San Jacinto Mountains in Southern California near Palm Springs.

Coast Redwood Germination and Growth

Three Redwood Relatives

The Coast Redwood has only two close relatives, the Giant Sequoia and Dawn Redwood. Although the Coast Redwood has been cultivated elsewhere, this tree naturally achieves its majestic heights and lush groves only in one place in the world -- a 450-mile strip along the Pacific Coast of North America. The trees prosper in this mild climate zone, where winter rains and summer fog provide an even temperature and a high level of year-round moisture.  

Redwoods are a hydrostatic marvel. They can siphon water upward to great heights, fighting gravity and friction every inch of the way. And during the dry summers in California, the coast redwoods actually create their own "rain" by condensing heavy fog into drenching showers that provide welcome moisture to the roots below.

In addition, scientists believe that redwoods take in much of their water directly from the air, through their needles and through canopy roots which the trees sprout on their branches. Lofty "soil mats" formed by trapped dust, needles, seeds and other materials act like sponges to capture the water that nurtures these canopy roots. Moisture from fog is thought to provide 30% to 40% of a redwood's water supply. 

Young redwoods use sunlight so efficiently (3-4 times more than pines) that they can grow even in deep shade. But with full sunlight and moist soil, a redwood sapling can grow more than 6 feet in a single growing season!

The coast redwoods are the tallest living species on Earth. Often they can reach heights of 300-350 feet and diameters of 16-18 feet. More than a dozen trees exceeding 360 feet in height are now growing along the California coast.

The redwood's thick bark, with deep furrows running the length of the trees, is a rich reddish brown. It is this bark that gives the redwoods their excellent fire-resistant quality. 

Coast Redwood Needles
The dark green leaves are needle-like and grow flat off the branches. Small cones, usually about an inch long, hang from the branch tips.

Redwood Seeds
Redwood cones release tiny brown seeds when mature. (They're so small that it takes about 125,000 to make a pound!) A single tree may produce six million seeds in a year. Of these seeds, less than 5% germinate, and of these, very few actually grow into seedlings. Redwoods are also capable of sprouting from the roots of parent trees, from dormant buds in the burls at the base of a tree, or from fallen trees. As well, if a tree is cut or burned, a family circle of trees ("fairy ring") may sprout up from the stump. These sprouts, because of already established root systems, grow more vigorously than seedlings and so are the more common form of reproduction. In fact, successive generations of sprouts are really "clone trees". Thus the genetic information of an individual redwood may be thousands of years old, dating back to the first parent. Will grow in USDA zones 7-10.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Banana Slug In The Redwood Forest


Banana slugs are detritivorous, eating dead and decomposing plant and animal matter. They also eat living plant material and have a special fondness for mushrooms. Since banana slugs are prone to desiccation in hot, arid environments, they are typically nocturnal, and come out during the day only when the weather is acceptable. During particularly dry periods of time, banana slugs can estivate by burying themselves in debris, secreting an especially thick coat of protective mucous, and going dormant until the conditions become more hospitable.
Banana slugs have been shown to have a mutually symbiotic relationship with the redwood tree, Sequoia sempervirens. The slugs do not eat the seedlings of the redwood tree, preferring even cardboard over redwood trees. Instead, they eat plant species that compete with redwoods for light, water, and nutrients. In exchange for this, the redwoods provide the slugs with the cool, moist habitat that they need.
Banana slugs are hermaphroditic, possessing both male and female genitalia. Though they are capable of self-fertilization, cross mating is more typical slug behavior. When a slug is ready to mate, it will release pheromones into its slime as a signal to other slugs. The slugs release sperm into each other and fertilize the eggs. After mating, the slugs will gnaw off each others male genitalia to disengage. Sperm collected in this fashion can be stored internally for several months, to allow immature eggs to fully develop before fertilization.

Many animals are predators of the banana slug, including birds, raccoons, snakes, and salamanders. However, due to the mucous secreted by the slug, most such predators will roll the slug around in the dirt to remove the slime before eating the slug.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Importance of the Summer Fog on Coastal Redwoods

According to Steve Norman of the United States Forest Service, climate change in coast redwood forests do affect its growth and ecosystem. He points out that despite being buffered by a cool humid coastal climate, future changes in climate may affect the coast redwood forest in direct and indirect ways. So, one of the most important climate-related factors that influences fire risk and the floral and faunal character of the coast redwoods is the incidence of summer fog. For those of us who have had the pleasure of
living in Northern California and along the coast, the summer fog is a common occurrence. Some sites receive a great influx of moisture during the otherwise dry summer from fog drip, but the cooler temperatures and reduced evapotranspiration along the overcast coast are probably a more widespread and influence on fire regimes.

The interesting
relationship between fog-stratus and regional temperature is known to those who have lived on the redwood coast for any length of time. Any occurrence of summer fog and cooler temperatures indicate to those who live to the east of the Trinities (such as in Redding) that the summer heat will be at your doorstep. Along the coast, cool water up-wells offshore as the California current flows southward. Warmer air moving over this humid surface is chilled and condenses. When interior temperatures rise, this marine layer of air is pulled inland and gets forced against the coastal mountains and is vertically contained under an inversion associated regional high pressure. Given this persistance of this pattern during most year's fire season, the local occurrence probability of fog-stratus helps define the fire hazard as well as the vegetation that is found there.

The incide
nce of coastal fog-stratus varies over time. Less fog was recorded during the fire seasons during the 1920s and 1930s and 1950s, while fog was common during the 1890s, 1910s, 1940s and 1970s. It is common to observe the strongest fire activity in the interior Klamath mountains on days when this coastal fog-stratus pattern is best developed. Variation in fog-stratus over centuries can alter the fire occurrence probabilities which affect the importance of seeding trees, such as Douglas fir and patterns of biodiversity.

Ongoing research models the incidence of fog-stratus in relation to historical fire activity and vegetation. This knowledge will help managers understand the specific climatic mechanisms that create patterns of fire hazards and how fire-related risks might change over time. The 2008 fire season was extraordinary in northern California. From space, the ancient relationship between coastal fog that ameliorates the fire hazard, and interior burning, indicated here by grey smoke, is well illustrated (below; The top of the image is near the Oregon-California border, Lake Tahoe is in the right center and Monterey is at bottom center). Note the pattern of where coastal fog usually occurs. The incidence of fog in northwestern California (upper left) is more interior than along the Mendocino coast (center). These mid-day images under-represent the influence of early morning fog, which also contributes to higher fuel moistures and vegetation pattern.