Chemise Mountain – Interesting Plants and a Great View

Posted in Flora, Hikes, Nature Articles

Written by Cheryl Lisin

 

IMG_3260-copyWhat a beautiful view – you can see snow on the Yolla Bollys from the top of Chemise Mountain! Located along the Lost Coast Trail in the King Range National Conservation Area, Chemise Mountain is easiest to get to by hiking up from Nadelos Campground on Chemise Mountain Road. At the campground, you cross the bridge over Bear Creek with its lush riparian plants, and head up, up, and up! It is 1.5 miles to the top of the mountain with a 778 foot elevation gain. The interesting plants along the way and the view at the top make all that huffing and puffing worth it.

 

As you climb the trail, you become level with and can look into the canopies of some magnificent trees – fir, madrone, tan oak and chinquapin. If you hike here in spring and early summer, you can see several species of mycho-heterotrophs blooming along the trail. These are non-photosynthesizing plants which get their food from parasitism upon fungi in the soil rather than from photosynthesis. There are red and white striped sugarsticks, yellow Indian pipes and low growing gnome plants of the heath family, and the delicate spotted coralroot from the orchid family.

 

After switching back and forth several times, the trail makes it up to the ridge, but there is still more uphill before you get to the Mountain top. Here the chinquapin trees are abundant and their spiny nut casings can be seen on the ground. The nut inside is like a miniature chestnut, but usually the squirrels beat the humans to them. If you are lucky, you may spot a rattlesnake plantain plant. Not a planintain at all, but an orchid, the foliage hugs the ground and is beautifully mottled in silver and green. The flowers are white and rise on a stalk in late spring. Farther along, just a few feet past the spur trail to the top, there is a rare occurance of knobcone pines. No other pines are native to this area and the knobcone is limited to just this small stretch. Here they are spindly and don’t acieve great heights, due to the nutrient poor rocky soil of the ridgetop. In more hospitable places, the trees can reach 80 feet, but here the tallest are about 20 feet. The cones are indeed knobby, staying on the tree for many years. Some cones stay so long they are engulfed in new wood as the tree grows around them. They are closed cones, needing fire to open them and release the seeds.

 

IMG_3280At the the peak (2958 feet), you are treated to the big view to the east, across the Mattole and Eel River watersheds to the Yolla Bolly mountain range and beyond. The view is kept clear thanks to BLM and Nick’s Interns. Once you head back down, it is surprising how fast you get to the campground after all that work it took to get up to the top.

 

Jack Rabbits and Cottontails

Posted in Mammals, Nature Articles

Jack Rabbits are crazy; why else would they run ahead of a car for ¾ mile without turning off the road? Maybe they just like a good run, and they are built for it, able to go as fast as 35 mph. They have very long hind legs and can bound 20 feet.

Lepus californicus ranges from Texas and Mexico to Oregon and California. We tend to associate them with arid regions, but they are present and happy here.

Here to, is the cottontail, aka brush rabbit, Sylvilagus bachmani. But while the hares (jack rabbits) like a moderately open situation with a mixture of grasses, forbs, and shrubs, the bunnies (cottontails) prefer dense brushy cover or thick grass ( in which they make runways) and rarely come out in the open. However, cottontails have been seen frolicking in a meadow in the moonlight. Perhaps they prefer fun to run.

Lepus is a nocturnal feeder, eating a varied diet of whatever is available at the time: grasses, forbs, twigs, and buds. Their range may be over ½ square mile in some places, but they do not migrate. Nor do they make nests, using shallow depressions beneath shrubs and small trees for cover, warmth, shade, and giving birth.

The hare breeding season runs from late January to August, producing 3 to 4 litters a year. After a gestation of 41 to 47 days, the 3 or 4 young are born fully furred with their eyes open, and are mobile soon after birth. A good thing that is, because they are nursed for only 2 to 3 days.

In contrast, cottontails can have up to 5 litters a year with 1 to 7 young per litter. The gestation time is 22 days, and the young are born hairless.

Both have light undersides but the jack rabbit is darker on top, with black-tipped ears and tail . It is also twice as large, with proportionately longer legs and ears.

Nor does the cottontail have as wide a range, S. bachmani being limited to Oregon and California. There are many other species and genera of hares and rabbits across the Northern Hemisphere. It is thought they evolved in Asia during the Paleocene from an ancestor common also to rodents and elephant shrews.

Hares and rabbits, and their kin the pica, (all lagomorphs) are not rodents. Their skulls can be easily distinguished from rodents by the dentition. While both have large ever-growing gnawing incisors, lagomorphs have 4, not 2, upper incisors. The second pair is smaller and found behind the front pair. Lagomorphs have more, and larger, cheek teeth, which are ever-growing. Rodent molars are small, and not ever-growing, probably because the rodent diet of seeds, grains and tubers is high-energy and need less chewing than the grasses that lagomorphs prefer. Grasses contain silica, which is highly abrasive. Also, rodents do not have milk teeth: lagomorphs do, although these are lost in utero or soon after birth.

Written by Eve Broughton. Eve lives in Whitethorn and was educated at UC Berkeley.

 

Adventures of a Lost Coast Ranger

Posted in Uncategorized

“Adventures of a Lost Coast Ranger ” a free talk on the natural resources of the King Range National Conservation Area, is the title of a free lecture to be presented Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m., at the Healy Senior Center, 456 Briceland Rd., Redway.

Paul Server, a wilderness ranger with the Bureau of Land Management, will present information on the environment and recreational developments within the King Range. He will provide information on low impact use of the area.

Server spends most of his time patrolling more than 80 miles of recreational trails in the national conservation area. A wilderness first responder and Leave No Trace master educator, Server studied natural resources planning and interpretation with an emphasis on recreation.

The talk is part of the annual winter lecture series offered by the BLM’s King Range National Conservation Area and the Lost Coast Interpretive Association.

The King Range National Conservation Area is part of the BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System. Additional information on the area’s natural resources and recreation opportunities is available at www.blm.gov/ca/arcata/kingrange.

 

 

Stories of Creatures and People Lecture

Posted in Uncategorized

‘Stories of Creatures and People of the North Coast’ is next in King Range Lecture Series

A presentation celebrating the beauty of the North Coast will be featured in “Stories of Creatures and People of the North Coast,” a free talk by local storyteller Ali Freedlund.

The lecture is Tuesday, Jan. 29, at 7 p.m., at the Healy Senior Center, 456 Briceland Rd., in Redway. It is part of the annual winter lecture series offered by the Bureau of Land Management’s King Range National Conservation Area and the Lost Coast Interpretive Association.

Freedlund has lived on the north coast for over 30 years. She joined the North Coast Storytellers about five years ago when she began writing her own stories celebrating the beauty of the North Coast and its creatures.

Through these stories, Freedland says she hopes to empower all ages to love and appreciate this place and each other.

She works for the Mattole Restoration Council but she loves to perform or share stories when she can. She has worked with Human Nature Theatre Productions of Petrolia, and recently worked with a collective of women for the show “Women of the Northwest.”

The King Range National Conservation Area is part of the BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System. Additional information on the area’s natural resources and recreation opportunities is available at www.blm.gov/ca/arcata/kingrange.

‘Stories of Creatures and People of the North Coast’ is next in King Range Lecture Series

A presentation celebrating the beauty of the North Coast will be featured in “Stories of Creatures and People of the North Coast,” a free talk by local storyteller Ali Freedlund.

The lecture is Tuesday, Jan. 29, at 7 p.m., at the Healy Senior Center, 456 Briceland Rd., in Redway. It is part of the annual winter lecture series offered by the Bureau of Land Management’s King Range National Conservation Area and the Lost Coast Interpretive Association.

Freedlund has lived on the north coast for over 30 years. She joined the North Coast Storytellers about five years ago when she began writing her own stories celebrating the beauty of the North Coast and its creatures.

Through these stories, Freedland says she hopes to empower all ages to love and appreciate this place and each other.

She works for the Mattole Restoration Council but she loves to perform or share stories when she can. She has worked with Human Nature Theatre Productions of Petrolia, and recently worked with a collective of women for the show “Women of the Northwest.”

The King Range National Conservation Area is part of the BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System. Additional information on the area’s natural resources and recreation opportunities is available at www.blm.gov/ca/arcata/kingrange.

 

Educational Quilts are Fun to Learn With and Make

Posted in Natural Science Lessons

 

Squirming with excitement, 15 kindergartners and 1st graders kneel around a quilt that depicts a river riparian scene replete with woody debris, rocks, a salmon redd, a small waterfall, and riffles. In a few minutes, each kid will get a stuffed ‘creature’ that lives in this special habitat–everything from a giant Pacific salamander to snakes to a lamprey to different aquatic insects. The kids’ challenge?!–Identify their special ‘creature,’ learn if it’s terrestrial or aquatic, and then place their creature in the appropriate habitat atop the quilt…..IMG_1073

The river / riparian zone quilt is one of several’teaching quilts’ now available for ecological education around Humboldt County. The others include Tidepool, Redwood Canopy, Soil and the latest addition–The Water Cycle. In classroom after classroom, these amazing quilts teach younger students ecological concepts in a fun, hands-on way. It’s always great to bring students into the field, but when the weather doesn’t cooperate or there’s a field trip coming up, these tactile, three-dimensional quilts are a terrific introductory teaching tool!

These quilts are created by volunteers of the Lost Coast Interpretive Association (LCIA).  IMG_2319  Working on the quilts is always  fun and exciting because all the creative stages — design, fabric choice, cutting an placing — are done as a group and the creative sparks fly.  Participants are Eve Broughton, Gail Clark, Lynda Gross, Susan Lawsky, Cheryl Lisin, Patty McGuire, Mary Shamel, Nancy Thompson, Janis Tillery, Linda Wolfard and Janet Young.

Our next quilt will be titled Metamorphoses.

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Winter Lecture Series

Posted in Lectures

“Conifer Country,” a look at the natural history of trees often referred to as “evergreens,” is the topic for the first in a series of six winter lectures hosted by the Bureau of Land Management’s King Range National Conservation Area and the Lost Coast Interpretive Association.

The free talk is Tuesday, Jan. 15, at 7 p.m. at the Healy Senior Center, 456 Briceland Rd. in Redway.

Teacher Michael Kauffman will share his knowledge of the Klamath Mountains and describe his explorations to “better understand the region’s ecology through the eyes of the conifers, one of the Earth’s oldest lineages of plants.”

Other lectures in the series include, “Stories of Creatures and People on the North Coast,” Jan 29; “Adventures of King Range Wilderness Ranger,” Feb. 12; Fascinating Lives of Marine Invertebrates,” Feb. 26; “The Evolution of Amphibians,” March 12; and “Hunter-Gatherer Skills Workshop,” March 26.

All lectures are at 7 p.m. at the Healy Center.

For more information, contact the BLM King Range National Conservation Area, (707) 986-5400, or request information by email at ca338@blm.gov. The King Range National Conservation area is part of the National Conservation Lands and is managed by the BLM.

 

Natural Life of the Lost Coast: Porcupines

Posted in Fauna, Mammals, Nature Articles, Uncategorized

”Wow! What’s that! Stop the car!” There, alongside the road in Rockefeller Forest, was a porcupine. I haven’t seen one since then, probably because porcupines are mainly nocturnal. During the day they hang out in the branches of trees. At night in the forest, those strange sounds you might hear, grunts, coughs, moans, wails, whines, shrieks and clicking teeth are not a werewolf, but a porcupine.

Living in mixed and coniferous forests, porcupines are found in Canada, Alaska, and the northern and western USA. There are also isolated groups in West Virginia and western Virginia, and in shrub lands and deserts south into northern Mexico.

Natural Life of the Lost Coast: The Sharp-Tailed Snake: the North Coast’s most elusive reptile

Posted in Amphibians and Reptiles, Fauna, Nature Articles

This summer on a warm August night in Salmon Creek, our daughter spotted what appeared to be a large earthworm crossing the road. Upon closer observation, she realized it was a very small snake unlike any she had seen before. She picked the snake up and carried it home, and to our surprise, it was the snake that was highest on our “life-list” priority for North Coast reptiles – the Sharp-Tailed Snake.

Sharp-Tailed Snakes (Contia tenuis) spend most of their lives in the darkness of a subterranean world hidden safely underground, beneath rocks, or deep plant litter, where it is cool and moist. Their secretive nature and unique habitat requirements make them one of the most rarely observed North Coast reptiles.

Natural life of the Lost Coast: Seal or Sea Lion?

Posted in Fauna, Mammals, Nature Articles

Sea Lion

By Eve Broughton

You are walking on the beach. There is a dark head poking out of the ocean watching you. What is it? Does it have external ears? If not, it is a seal. Sea lions, which tend to be less curious, do have external ears.

There is another large difference between seals and sea lions. While both have streamlined bodies adapted to aquatic life, the seal has gone further down this path. Its pelvis is greatly reduced and its thigh bone (femur) is gone. As a consequence, the seal is very clumsy on land; it has to pull its body along using the front flippers. In the water, they swim by undulating their bodies and using their rear flippers.

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