Middle Tennessee Cedar Glades

Map adapted from William J. Wolfe, “Hydrology and Tree-Distribution Patterns of Karst Wetlands at Arnold engineering Development Center,” USGS

Edaphic islands have long-fascinated me–especially having grown to understand the serpentine barrens of the Klamath Mountains. So when we found ourselves visiting the Central Basin Region of middle Tennessee I discovered, through the help of the Tennessee Native Plant Society, that this area is botanically special for its limestone prairies, often called glades. While numerous state designated natural areas were recommended, I chose to learn about the Middle Tennessee Cedar Glades at Flat Rock Glades and Barrens State Natural Area.

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Serpentines of the Salmon Creek-Mattole River Divide

Original Publication DATE: 1/19/2013

On the divide between the South Fork of the Eel River and Mattole River exists a place I had repeatedly mapped while creating the images for for Conifer Country. I knew there was a small patch of serpentine in this isolated location because of the occurrance of two tree species that are uncommmon on the North Coast outside of the Klamath Mountains proper. In the past I had asked regional ecologists about this location and the common response was “its is somewhere out near the Mattole River.” I knew that already, but how could I find the exact location?

The mystery was solved when Kyle and Dana Keegan, offered a “visit to the Salmon Creek watershed which is a tributary of the South Fork Eel. We have an especially unique diversity of plants and trees here due to a complex melange of geologic features with what we believe to be the largest, most westerly stand of Jeffrey Pine in the state, as well as vast stands of Incense Cedar. Kinda like an isolated westerly chunk of the Klamath Siskiyous–with it comes a whole host of serpentine endemics.”

Yes please…

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Kyle and Dana Keegan looking across the headwaters of the Mattole River.

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Frenzel Creek Research Natural Area

Original Publication DATE: 5/26/2011

The first journey of the summer has begun and as I make my way south to the Sierra San Pedro Martir botanically diverse destinations will craft the route I drive. The first stop was not too far from home, but a place I had not yet been. The serpentine soils along the Frenzel Creek Research Natural Area foster the sympatric overlap of two cypresses–along with many other unique serpentine plants. Enjoy the photo-blog, as I won’t have a lot of time to write with many miles to travel.

Frenzel Creek RNA

MacNab cypress grow in a shrubby form in the uplands growing with leather oak among other species.

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Rarities and Ramblings • Horse Mountain Botanical Area: Six Rivers National Forest

Original Publication DATE: 2/14/2010 3:14:00 PM

Venturing east on Highway 299 from Humboldt Bay, a stark transition–rarely noticed by travelers–occurs at Berry Summit (2900 ft). Leaving the Coast Range and entering the Klamath Mountains the landscape becomes defined by varied, complex rock types. One of these unusual rock types is known as ultramafic rock or more commonly as Serpentine. In North America, serpentine rock appears at the Earth’s surface most frequently in northwest California. The Horse Mountain Botanical Area (HMBA) is a celebration of the rock and climate that interact to create unique high elevation plant communities. In coastal northwest California, spring has arrived. Allison and I did not want winter to pass us by–we were ready for some snow play. Packing our snowshoes and lunch, we drove to the snow of the HMBA in the Klamath Mountains in less than an hour.

Above is an map of the location of the Horse Mountain Botanical Area in the Six Rivers National Forest.

Above is an map of the location of the Horse Mountain Botanical Area in the Six Rivers National Forest.

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Limestone Ridge ~ Trinity Alps Wilderness

Original Publication DATE: 10/12/2009 2:23:00 AM

Gaining an understanding of geology and fire ecology

I had often pondered a high and extensive ridgeline in the middle of the Trinity Alps Wilderness from other mountain top vantage points on which I stood–at one point or another–in my adventures in the Klamath Mountains. It took me several years to realize this jagged range had its own name and many years more to actually get to this isolated place. Finally, in October, I climbed my way into the high country known as Limestone Ridge. I had read this extensive ridgeline (over 3 miles long) was one of the best examples of Karst topography in western North America. This summer, the spectacular Marble Mountain was my first introduction to Karst limestone landscape in the Klamath so I assiduously pursued a chance to see more. With those distant images and arresting words burned on my brain I was finally climbing–up–up–up–from Hobo Gulch in the Trinity River Canyon.

Limestone Ridge

Climbing higher and higher, smoke lingers from this years fires while charred chaparral and montane forest remind the temporal visitor of previous year’s fires–leaving the gabbro pluton exposed, as if only just uplifted from the depths of the earth.

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