The forest here is diverse and magical. So far, we’ve identified 18 native tree species in our mixed deciduous and evergreen forests. The California Bay Laurel and Canyon Live Oak are some of the most ancient and awe-inspiring trees of this land, with guestimates of 400 – 800 years old for some of these old friends.
White settler contact significantly shaped the forests on the North Coast and at Polcum Springs. Tan Oaks were harvested for their tannin-rich bark for the fur industry of late 1800’s. Logging in the 1960s and ‘70s removed most of the large Douglas Fir, leaving behind a legacy of thick second growth fir stands that are choking the ancient Oaks, Madrone, and understory plants.
Using the eco-cultural forestry restoration model taught to us by Dennis Martinez, we are selectively thinning Douglas Fir and engaging in other restoration activities that:
- Support diversity in the forest
- Select for future “old growth” species, including Douglas Fir
- Reduce fuel-load
- Reduce the potential for bark beetle infestation
- Prepare for re-introduction of fire
- Reduce the likelihood of Sudden-Oak-Death Syndrome through re-alkalizing the soil, and
- Help bring the forests closer to “pre-contact” conditions so that natural succession can take it from there.
Our goal is to return the forest to a mixed-age forest with species diversity – including herbaceous plants – and an open forest structure that can withstand, and even benefit from, periodic low-intensity fires.
The by-product of our efforts is gorgeous small diameter roundwood poles that we use for building projects. Tree limbs are used for watershed restoration (see below). Pole scraps become firewood for domestic heating and cob oven use. Charcoal from the cob oven is returned to nature as bio-char in our gardens that sequesters carbon and provides housing for beneficial microbes. Forest diversity, individual heritage trees, humans, gardens, and our watershed benefit. Now this is stacking functions!