Mount Linn Revisited

Northern California’s Coast Range

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A view from Mount Linn toward the Pacific Ocean and the distant King Range.

Mount Linn–also called South Yolla Bolly Mountain–is the highest point in the Coast Range of northern California. It is located to the west of Corning but the area might as well be a world away from the population centers of the state; it is rarely noticed by travelers as they drive Interstate 5. Once off the interstate, scenic forest service roads still take nearly 2 hours to wind to the trailhead. I revisited this fine mountain in July of 2016 to set up a photo-monitoring plot along the Bigfoot Trail and took the time to also map the vegetation on the mountain–particularly the grove of foxtail pines near the summit. This is one of the smallest (12 acres) and most isolated groves for the entire species and one that I am very much concerned about due to climate change. Shasta firs are encroaching upon the trees as snowpack declines and temperatures warm. I was happy to see the trees doing well and many young foxtails sprouting up–just not as many as there are young firs.

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Foster and Lion Lake – Trinity Alps Wilderness

Original Publication DATE: 1/19/2014

Part two of whitebark pine negative reports in the Trinity Alps Wilderness

As mentioned in my last post, part of last summer’s whitebark pine conservation assessment and mapping project involved predicting location where the species might occur but was not yet documented. While I found success with some predictions, others turned into negative reports with “ground-truthing.” One negative report was in the Trinity Alps Wilderness around Stonewall Pass, another was in the Foster and Lion lakes region where I based my prediction on the significant landmass above 7,500′.

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Foxtail pine on granite, high above Coffee Creek in a summer thunderstorm.

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Stonewall Pass – the Red Alps

Original Publication DATE: 1/2/2014

Part of last summer’s whitebark pine conservation assessment and mapping project involved predicting location where the species might occur but had not yet been documented. While I found success with some predictions, others turned into negative reports with “ground-truthing.” One of these areas was in the Trinity Alps Wilderness around Stonewall Pass where I predicted WBP would occur because there is significant landmass above 7,500′.

The geology of the Stonewall Pass region is built from a majority of mafic and ultramafic rocks. Granite and Gibson peaks are themselves granite, but the remainder of the landscape is composed of serpentine, which makes survival difficult for many species. Interestingly, whitebark pine are found on the serpentine of the Scott-Trinity Mountains around China Peak and Mount Eddy, but it turns out they are absent from the Stonewall Pass serpentines. Whitebark’s absence on the granite of Gibson and Granite peak is most likely due to the size of the inhabitable area offered by the small granite plutons here as well as the increased competition from granite-loving species like mountain hemlock and Shasta fir.

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Foxtail pine on Middle Peak looking southeast toward Granite Peak.

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Ecological Amplitude: A story of climax

Original Publication DATE: 7/15/2011

Box Camp Mountain | Marble Mountain Wilderness

Ecological amplitude is the range of habitats, often dependent on and defined by elevation, within which a certain species has the ability to survive. In the Klamath Mountains there are two species of pines that define the highest elevations–growing at or near the summits of peaks from ~7500′ to 9000′ (The Klamath Mountains get no higher). Foxtail pine (Pinus balfouriana) and whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) inhabit our sky islands where they are the crowning jewels of this coniferous wonderland.

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Jeffrey Kane ponders the approach to Box Camp Mountain from the Pacific Crest Trail.

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Sequoia National Park & Monument

Sequoia National Park & Monument • Original Publication DATE: 6/10/2011

Sequoia National Monument – In search of giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron gigantium)

A slow return north from Mexico found me revisiting old stomping grounds in the southern Sierra Nevada. I first drove from Kernville to Springville to fully enjoy the Giant Sequoia National Monument. When I first ventured out on my own after college I lived near Springville and taught environmental education at SCICON. On weekends I would often attend church in the Freeman Creek grove, disappearing for hours on end in one of the largest stands of sequoias outside the national parks. I returned to this grove to re-explore 15 years after my first visits–I think the trees have gotten bigger.

Freeman Creek Grove

Freeman Creek Grove

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Video: Foxtail pines across the Klamath Mountain Sky Islands

I have been preparing for a presentation at the Northern California Symposium of Botanists in January. The title of the talk is “Climate Change and the High Elevation Conifers of the Klamath Mountains” which is based on a literature review I wrote last year.

As I was digging through old pictures preparing for the talk and I came across video I shot this summer but had forgotten about–so I processed it. What follows is a 10 minute exploration of three foxtail pine groves in the Klamath Mountains.

Foxtail Pines across the Klamath Mountains | July 2010 from Michael Kauffmann on Vimeo.

Changing climates have perpetuated shifts in the biogeographic distribution of flora and fauna across landscapes for millennia. It is therefore important to consider how future environmental changes may affect the survival of species—both globally and regionally. The conifers of the Klamath Mountains are harbingers of change. Botanical diversity has been fostered in this ancient meeting ground as climatic conditions have shifted throughout the Cenozoic. The video explores several rare, spatially restricted, high elevation microsites of the Klamath Mountains where relict foxtail pine (Pinus balfouriana) and whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) still survive today.

Foxtail Pines of Mount Linn

Original Publication DATE: 8/10/2009

Mount Linn–also called South Yolla Bolly Mountain–is the highest point in the Coast Range of northern California. It is located to the west of Corning but the area might as well be a world away from the population centers of the state; it is rarely noticed by travelers as they drive Interstate 5. Once off the interstate, scenic forest service roads still take nearly 2 hours to wind to the trailhead. Although this place has always been on my list of places to visit–the impetus for this visit was to collect some samples of the rare Sierra juniper (Juniperus grandis) for Robert Adams of Baylor University so that, through DNA testing, he might find out if these trees truly are what we think they are (see previous blog). After a 25 mile sojourn deep into the wilderness to collect those specimens it was time to search for the southern most stand of foxtail pine in northwest California–on Mount Linn.

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The distinct cones and “bottle-brush tassle” branches help to identify Pinus Balfouriana.

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