Timbered Crater – Lassen National Forest

Original Publication DATE: 8/13/2013

Timbered Crater has been on my list to visit for some time now. Exploring the Medicine Lake Highlands at the end of a week of field work searching for whitebark pine (more coming soon on this one), I found myself close enough to justify a stop here on my return to HWY 299 and ultimately the coast. It is a difficult place to find in many ways, since signs are all but non-existent, but the extent of the Baker cypress groves (7,000+ acres!) make the trees easy enough to find with a small amount of adventure.

Timbered Crater is the type-locality for Baker cypress, an exotic location for relict vernal pools, and ultimately a crossroads for Cascade and Great Basin species. Read more by Todd Keeler-Wolf  in his Research Natural Area report. It is also recommended as a wilderness study area–probably because of the lava flows make penetrating road-building nearly impossible. Hopefully wilderness designation will come to fruition, especially since there aren’t too many topographically flat wilderness areas–anywhere.

What follows are a few pictures, tinged by drifting smoke from the Salmon River and Oregon fires.
2

Two Baker cypress recolonizing a recent (<20 years) burn area in the Timbered Crater.

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Looking across the patchwork of vegetation types sculpted by frequent fire return intervals.

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COMMENT:
AUTHOR: Joyce Mary Mary
DATE: 8/13/2013 4:12:43 PM
Michael,
These pictures are great. You have chosen to live such an interesting life. You mother must be very proud of you!
With love and admiration, Mom
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COMMENT:
AUTHOR: Michael E. Kauffmann
DATE: 8/14/2013 2:18:41 PM
Aw, geez, thanks Mom.

Siskiyou cypress and yellow-cedar in the Klamath Mountains

Original Publication DATE: 10/24/2010

With the threat of our second significant storm of the season looming, I packed the truck and headed into a mysterious and isolated region of the Siskiyou Mountains to find two rare groves of trees and enjoy the transition toward winter. The roads are long and lonely leading south from Oregon’s Applegate Valley into the high peaks of extreme southern Oregon and northern California. This region drains the headwaters of the Applegate River where nebulous state borders are crisscrossed by wild mountains, rivers, and the occasional road. This is surely the quintessential ancient meeting ground where rare plants have hidden out for millenia–optimal environmental conditions are fostered with a unique balance of sun, soil, and water. In addition to the rare conifers under discussion one might also encounter Pacific silver-fir, subalpine fir , Brewer spruce, and Port Orford-cedar close by–not to mention the other more common species.

ayc-bc-nwcal-overlap
This map shows the only region in the world where the northern-most native cypress (C. bakeri) overlaps with Alaska yellow-cedar (C. nootkatensis) in its southern range extension.

One quick side note with respect to the genera I present here (without getting overly detailed)–several classification schemes currently exist for these species. Alaska-cedars have been placed in one of five genera by various sources: Cupressus, Chamaecyparis, Xanthocyparis, Hesperocyparis, and Callitropsis. Needless to say, things are a bit up in the air. While these names have yet to be worked out what has transpired, for now, is one of three scenerios: Continue reading