18th Conifer in the Miracle Mile!

Original Post DATE: 2/10/2013

The internet is an amazing thing. It opens up lines of communication that were unheard of in the past. Case in point–I got an email from Richard Moore who lives in Callahan, California. He knows the Salmon-Trinity Mountains well, as he has been exploring them since he was a young boy in the early 50’s. It turns out that in the early 1980’s he discovered a small stand of western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis) in the Russian Wilderness. He knew about the famous square mile wherein 17 conifers species had been found. He also figured the junipers he discovered were within–or at least very close to–that carefully shaped square mile. He had told John Sawyer in person about 2 years ago; but never relayed the location of the trees. John and I made the trek into Sugar Creek and I climbed to the ridge trying to predict where the juniper were – and missed them by a few hundred yards and a wall of granite. Now I was back to find the 18th Conifer in the Miracle Mile.

Sugar Creek

I was within 200 yards (just around this granitic corner) of finding the junipers on my last visit to the miracle mile.

Turns out, in the summer of 2012 his brother bought him a copy of Conifer Country and he was re-inspired to try to get the word out about his discovery. He borrowed his son’s camera (which he readily admits to have taken some poor photos), put together a PDF with the pictures and GPS coordinates with the help of his son, and also got that file in an email to me. What we now have is the evidence (minus a specimen) of the newest addition to the botanical legacy of the Klamath Mountains. I plan to meet Richard this summer and collect some specimens for the Humboldt State University Herbarium. Below is the link to the file with photos and GPS coordinates that Richard sent to me.

Richard Moore collecting a specimen of Juniperus occidentalis in the Miracle Mile - the18th conifer!

Richard Moore collecting a specimen of Juniperus occidentalis in the Miracle Mile – the 18th conifer!

A list of conifers within the Miracle Mile:

  1. foxtail pine
  2. whitebark pine
  3. western white pine
  4. Jeffrey pine
  5. ponderosa pine
  6. lodgepole pine
  7. sugar pine
  8. white fir
  9. Shasta fir
  10. subalpine fir
  11. Engelmann spruce
  12. Brewer spruce
  13. mountain hemlock
  14. Douglas-fir
  15. Pacific yew
  16. incense-cedar
  17. common juniper
  18. western juniper

Miracle Mile

Russian Wilderness, California

Original Publication DATE: 8/31/2011

In the late 1960’s, after arriving at Humboldt State University as a new professor, John O. Sawyer received a letter in the mail from G. Ledyard Stebbins. Stebbins, widely regarded as one of America’s leading evolutionary biologists but also a lover of rare plants, suggested to John that he needed to visit a remote place in the Klamath Mountains known as Blake’s Fork. Here, he said, John might help verify a report for one of California’s rarest conifers–the Engelmann spruce. Stebbins hoped John could record his findings in a new database called the Inventory of Rare and Endangered Vascular Plants of California organized by the California Native Plant Society. With conifers calling, John and his friend and co-worker Dale Thornburgh went on a journey that would change our understanding of conifer distributions, plant associations, and wilderness in California.

Russian Wilderness

The heart of the Russian Wilderness and the Miracle Mile, with Russian Peak to the far left. This spiney ridge separates Sugar Creek (left) from Duck Creek (right).

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