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

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.