Current Property Conditions
Most of the Ranch is densely forested with commercial conifers and hardwoods (see “Vegetation Types” map and “Forest Management Unit Information”).
A forest “type” is a somewhat uniform grouping of trees based on the mix of species, size of trees, and density of crown closure. But note the qualifier “somewhat”. Natural forests are generally quite variable, so small, unrepresentative stands must sometimes be included within a dominant type to prevent an unwieldy proliferation of types for data collection and processing. This should be kept in mind whenever interpreting the data in this plan, which in all cases is derived from a representative sample (average) of each type. Individual groupings of vegetation may not fit the data. Management practices in general may be guided by the data, but on the ground application should be site specific.
Vegetation was classified according to the California Wildlife Habitat Relationships coding system, which can be accessed at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/biogeodata/cwhr/. The type codes are in three parts. The first letter code designates the dominant species, the number code designates the size class of that species, and the last letter code designates the percent crown closure of that species. The species codes for this property are DFR – Douglas-fir, MHC – Montane Hardwood-Conifer, MHW – Montane Hardwood, WO – White Oak, GRS – grassland, and MRI – Montane Riparian. In addition, there is a non-WHR code of NC, representing non-commercial forest. The size class codes for the forest types found on the Ranch are 3 – pole trees (6-11″ DBH, diameter breast height, at 4 1/2 feet above the ground) and 4 – small saw timber trees (11-24″ DBH). The density codes are D – 60-100% canopy closure and P – 25-39%. The size class code for the grass type is 1 – short grass and forbs less than 12” tall and the density code is D – 60-100% canopy closure. Detailed information on most of the vegetation types found on the Ranch, from Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS) runs of inventory data, is appended to this plan.
About 68 acres are DFR4D, site I-III (Dunning; California Forest & Range Experiment Station Note 28), on flat to 50% slopes. The DFR4D type is found in two topographically separate stands, varying from westerly to southwesterly and northerly to northwesterly, with somewhat different characteristics in the species mix, size, and volume of the conifers found in them.
About 74% of the basal area stocking is conifers, primarily Douglas fir (DF), with a small component of ponderosa pine (PP) and sugar pine (SP). Conifer tree diameters range from 1-38″ DBH. Conifer regeneration is almost solely scattered DF. The most abundant seedlings and saplings are generally found growing under gaps in the overstory canopy.
About 26% of the basal area stocking is hardwoods, primarily canyon live oak, California black oak, and Oregon white oak, with some Pacific madrone and tanoak. Hardwood diameters range from 1-40” DBH. Hardwood regeneration is primarily California black oak, with a small amount of canyon live oak, tanoak, and Pacific madrone.
Shrub and grass cover is sparse. The most abundant shrub species are California hazel, greenleaf manzanita, buckbrush, and snowberry.
About 51 acres are MHC3D, site I-III (Dunning; Ca. For & Rng. Exp. Sta. Note 28), on flat to 60% slopes, on primarily southeasterly to southwesterly aspects. About 49% (87 ft²/acre, 295 tpa) of the basal area stocking is conifers, primarily Douglas fir, with minor ponderosa pine and sugar pine. Conifer tree diameters range from 1-26″ DBH. Conifer regeneration is primarily scattered DF with minor sugar pine. The most abundant seedlings and saplings are generally found growing under gaps in the overstory canopy.
About 51% (89 ft²/acre, 187 tpa) of the basal area stocking is hardwoods, primarily California black oak, Pacific madrone, and Oregon white oak, with some canyon live oak and tanoak. Hardwood diameters range from 1-32” DBH. Hardwood regeneration is almost exclusively canyon live oak, with some Pacific madrone and California black oak.
Shrub and grass cover is sparse. Shrubs are primarily greenleaf manzanita.
About 7 acres are MHW3D, site IV-VI (Dunning; Ca. For & Rng. Exp. Sta. Note 28), on 60% slopes. The MHW3D type is found on the upper slope west of the main ridge west of Buckhorn Creek. About 13% (21 ft²/acre, 190 tpa) of the basal area stocking is conifers, primarily Douglas fir, with scattered sugar pine. Conifer tree diameters range from 1-12″ DBH. Conifer regeneration is primarily DF, with scattered planted PP.
About 87% (145 ft²/acre, 525 tpa) of the basal area stocking is hardwoods, primarily canyon live oak, with some Pacific madrone and California black oak and minor Oregon white oak and tanoak. Hardwood diameters range from 1-50” DBH. Hardwood regeneration is primarily canyon live oak, with scattered Pacific madrone, California black oak, and tanoak.
Shrub and grass cover is sparse. The most abundant shrubs are deerbrush and greenleaf manzanita.
About 13 acres are MHW4D, site I-III (Dunning; Ca. For & Rng. Exp. Sta. Note 28), on 30-70% slopes. The MHW4D type is found in the northwest corner of the APZ parcel. About 29% (58 ft²/acre, 65 tpa) of the basal area stocking is conifers, primarily Douglas fir, with scattered sugar pine and incense cedar. Conifer tree diameters range from 1-22″ DBH. Conifer regeneration is primarily very scattered DF with a few incense cedars.
About 71% (151 ft²/acre, 480 tpa) of the basal area stocking is hardwoods, primarily Pacific madrone and canyon live oak, with scattered Oregon white oak and tanoak. Hardwood diameters range from 1-32” DBH. Hardwood regeneration is primarily canyon live oak, with scattered tanoak and Pacific madrone.
Shrub and grass cover is sparse. There is scattered California hazel and poison oak.
About 19 acres are WO4P, site I-III on flat to 40% slopes. The WO4P type is found on the west leg of the TPZ parcel. About 16% (11 ft²/acre, 90 tpa) of the basal area stocking is conifers, primarily Douglas fir, with very scattered ponderosa pine. Conifer tree diameters range from 1-20″ DBH. Conifer regeneration is primarily DF seen on only one of six inventory plots.
About 84% (57 ft²/acre, 350 tpa) of the basal area stocking is hardwoods, primarily Pacific madrone and canyon live oak, with scattered Oregon white oak and tanoak. Hardwood diameters range from 1-34” DBH. Hardwood regeneration is primarily Oregon white oak, with some California black oak and occasional canyon live oak.
Shrub and grass cover is abundant, with one or the other dominant in any particular area. Greenleaf and whiteleaf manzanita, deerbrush, gooseberry, blackcap, California hazel, and thistle are dense in some areas and sparse in others, as is annual grass.
About 25 acres are WO3P, site I-III on 10-40% slopes. The WO3P type is found in five topographically separate stands, varying from southwesterly to southerly, to easterly to northerly, with distinctly different characteristics in the mix of hardwood tree sizes and volumes. About 16% (11 ft²/acre, 90 tpa) of the basal area stocking is conifers, primarily Douglas fir, with very scattered ponderosa pine. Conifer tree diameters range from 1-20″ DBH. Conifer regeneration is primarily DF, seen on only one of six inventory plots.
About 84% (57 ft²/acre, 350 tpa) of the basal area stocking is hardwoods, primarily Oregon white oak, with a much smaller component of California black oak and a minor component of canyon live oak. Hardwood diameters range from 1-34” DBH. Hardwood regeneration is primarily Oregon white oak, with some California black oak and occasional canyon live oak.
Ground cover is primarily annual grass with interspersed forbs. There are very few shrubs.
About 1 acre is MRI3D, riparian vegetation along Buckhorn Creek. The primary tree species in this type are white alder, Oregon bigleaf maple, and Douglas-fir.
About 3 acres are WTM1D, wet meadow, which includes various native and non-native grasses and forbs, including rushes and sedges in the wetter areas. This type is found in a small area surrounding the seasonal pond on the west edge of the west leg of the TPZ parcel. It is grassland rather than forest, most likely because of a high water table
About 129 acres are NC, non-commercial forest, site IV-VI on steep slopes bordering Buckhorn Creek. This type corresponds to a WHR type of MHW4D, but for purposes of this management plan is classified as non-commercial due to a variety of reasons, including the lack of and impractability of access for management purposes, low site quality, rocky soil surface, and dominance by non-commercial canyon live oak. Although no inventory plots were established in this type, canyon live oak from 4-24” DBH predominates, with small, scattered groups and pockets of pole and/or small sawtimber-size Douglas-fir, sugar pine, and/or Pacific madrone. One 6-foot diameter DF stump was aged at 435 years and a 3-foot diameter stump was aged at 270 years. There are scattered patches of greenleaf manzanita and rock outcrops.
About 4.5 acres are classified as Powerline, which is the power line right-of-way. This type is considered non-commercial due to restrictions on management. Portions of this right-of-way are densely covered with greenleaf and whiteleaf manzanita.
There appears to be minor damage to trees from insects and diseases. Sporophores (conks) of conk rot (Phellinus pini), also known as red ring rot or white speck, were observed on some Douglas-firs, primarily in the DFR4D type. Conk rot infects the heartwood of most conifers, but is mainly a disease of Douglas-firs. It favors cooler, moister environments, such as stream zones and northern aspects. It is spread by airborne spores produced by sporophores on infected trees and enters trees through dead branch stubs or open wounds. It can seriously degrade the structural integrity and/or merchantability of a tree over its natural lifetime, especially if the tree is infected when young. But it generally causes relatively little stem damage during the time period before most landowners harvest their trees. The only practical treatments for this problem are to remove infected trees from the stand to reduce spore production, maintain stand conditions that enhance tree health and vigor, and maintain a mixed-species stand.
Old sporophores of velvet top fungus (Phaeolus schweinitzii), also known as cow pie fungus or red-brown butt rot, were observed near the stumps of some large Douglas-firs. Velvet top fungus infects the roots and the heartwood in the first log of most conifers, including ponderosa and sugar pines, but is mainly a disease of Douglas-firs. It is spread by airborne spores produced by sporophores growing at the base of infected trees or on the ground near the base of trees and enters trees through roots or basal trunk wounds. It can also spread through direct contact between roots of infected trees and roots of healthy trees. The rot generally has minimal effects on younger trees (less than 150 years of age) but can seriously degrade the structural integrity and/or merchantability of older trees, as it often causes extensive decay in the roots and the butt log. The only practical treatments for this problem are to remove infected trees from the stand to reduce spore production, maintain stand conditions that enhance tree health and vigor, and maintain a mixed-species stand.
The only other rots seen on the Ranch is a butt and trunk rot in Oregon white oak, California black oak, canyon live oak, and Pacific madrone. These rots are usually found in larger specimens of these species. These trees will act as a source of spores to infect other trees through open wounds and poorly healed branch stubs resulting from natural pruning. These trees could be harvested to reduce spore production, but they provide prime nesting habitat for cavity nesting birds and they generally produce large acorn or berry crops, which contribute significantly to the diet of many species as well as providing a seed source for regeneration. An alternative to harvesting these large trees is to make an effort during forest management activities to minimize wounding of young trees.
As rots can enter sprouts through the parent stump, it is safest to regenerate hardwood stands from seedlings or seedling sprouts, or from sprouts arising from a low point on small diameter (up to 6 inches) stumps. Sprouts from larger stumps may be used provided they heal over the stump in about 30 years. Clumps of sprouts should be thinned before they are 20 years old to minimize decay. Twin sprouts over three inches in diameter, with the union well above ground line, should both be cut or both be left. Twin sprouts with the union near the ground line may be cut or left individually.
A few conifers (DF, PP, and SP) have been killed by bark beetles (Dendroctonus pseudotsugae). These beetles are highly destructive when populations build up and trees are stressed due to drought or other causes. They have one generation in a year. The only control method generally in use, other than spraying an insecticide on the trunk of infested trees or injecting it under the bark, is to fall trees at the first sign of discoloration in the crown, peel the bark, and burn it to destroy pupating beetles. Alternatively, if the trees are large enough, they can be bucked into logs and hauled to a mill for processing. But these methods of beetle control are largely ineffective if there are beetle populations on adjoining properties, which there almost always are.
No dwarf mistletoe (Arceuthobium sp.) was seen in conifers. There is some Christmas mistletoe (Phoradendron sp.) in oaks, especially California black oaks.
The six main internal roads that are graveled total 1.68 miles in length. These include the main east-west road, which connects at both ends with USFS Road, the road to Bear Creek Studio, the road to the main house, and a portion of the road accessing the south end of the meadow at the west edge of the TPZ parcel.
All the other roads, totaling 2.09 miles in length, have a native dirt surface. ATV and 4-wheel drive roads total 0.49 miles in length.
Watercourse crossings consist of a bridge over Buckhorn Creek on the internal access road, two culverts under USFS Road at Class II and III watercourses and one ford, and a culvert under the main internal road at a Class III watercourse.
There are a number of old skid roads, totaling 1.35 miles, that access portions of the TPZ parcel and areas that were probably harvested in the 1950s. These skid roads are generally in good condition, although generally overgrown with shrubs and sapling trees. There are some cut-slope failures where skid trails cross steep slopes west of Buckhorn Creek, but soil has rarely moved further down slope than the skid trail.
The forest manager uses a backhoe to maintain road surfaces and ditches to control erosion and ensure drivability. No road-related erosion problems were noted during the inventory of the Ranch, other than at the outfall of two shotgun culverts, one on USFS Road 4N09 at a Class III watercourse crossing and one under the power line at the outfall of a ditch relief culvert on the road to Bear Creek Studio (see “Vegetation Types” map).
A few of the dirt-surfaced internal roads are seasonal only due to excessive erosion when wet. If all-year use of the cabins in the western portion of the Ranch is anticipated, some sections of the access roads will require gravelling.
Access and Security
Property corners were established in 1986 and 1988 by a BLM cadastral survey. Brass caps on steel pipe were placed at all corners. These were surrounded with rock cairns painted red at all but APs 5, 6, and 8 in Tract 44 (TPZ parcels) and APs 1-4, 8, and 12 in Tract 53 (APZ parcel). Waypoints were taken on all property corners and used to verify and map property boundaries on maps included in this forest management plan. All external boundaries adjacent to USFS lands are marked with USFS property boundary tags on steel posts and blazes (painted red) on trees. Trespass does not appear to be a problem.
Current management of the Ranch harmonizes with the land management priorities of the adjacent Trinity National Forest. The Shasta-Trinity National Forests Land and Resource Management Plan designated the area surrounding the Ranch as Adaptive Management Area. The area north and west of the Ranch is designated as a “Bear Management Area.” Most of the area immediately surrounding the Ranch is moderately to highly suitable for timber production.
As stated in the Shasta-Trinity National Forests Land and Resource Management Plan (pg. 4-69), “The primary technical objectives of the Adaptive Management Areas are development, demonstration, implementation, and evaluation of monitoring programs and innovative management practices that integrate ecological and economic values.” Priority is given to the development, demonstration, and testing of techniques for:
“Creation and maintenance of a variety of forest structural conditions including late-successional forest conditions and desired riparian habitat conditions. Integration of timber production with maintenance and restoration of fisheries habitat and water quality. Restoration of structural complexity and biological diversity in forests and streams that have been degraded by past management activities and natural events. Integration of the habitat needs of wildlife (particularly of sensitive and threatened species) with timber management. Development of logging and transportation systems with low impact on soil stability and water quality. Design and testing of effects of forest management activities at the landscape level. Restoration and maintenance of forest health using controlled fire and silvicultural approaches.”
The landowners and their guests will use this property for hunting, hiking, camping, observing wildlife, and relaxing. Hiking access will primarily be over existing roads and trails. There are opportunities to improve access over existing trails and skid trails and to construct new trails.
There are a number of cabins in various stages of completion. Due to the remoteness of the Ranch and the labor intensive agriculture and forest management practices that are anticipated, these cabins could be finished and used as temporary shelters for workers. In the off season, cabins can be used for retreat housing, for guests, and for training workshops.
The forest adjacent to USFS Road 4N09 will be retained to screen the Ranch from the road. This screen will serve a threefold function, acting as a filter to muffle road noise, creating visual privacy for the landowner and wildlife, and discouraging illegal shooting of wildlife from the road.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture, Plant Health and Pest Prevention Services, maintains a list of plants considered noxious weeds because they are “troublesome, aggressive, intrusive, detrimental, or destructive to agriculture, silviculture, or important native species, and difficult to control or eradicate”. Plants on this list are rated to “reflect CDFA’s view of the statewide importance of the pest, the likelihood that eradication or control efforts would be successful, and the present distribution of the pest within the state. The ratings are not laws, but are policy guidelines that indicate the most appropriate action to take against a pest under general circumstances. Local conditions may dictate more stringent actions at the discretion of the CAC [County Agricultural Commissioner], and the rating may change as circumstances change.” (from CDFA’s Encycloweedia: Weed Ratings)
The only noxious weeds found on the Ranch are “C list” weeds, defined as “A pest of known economic or environmental detriment and, if present in California, it is usually widespread. C-rated organisms are eligible to enter the state as long as the commodities with which they are associated conform to pest cleanliness standards when found in nursery stock shipments. If found in the state, they are subject to regulations designed to retard spread or to suppress at the discretion of the individual county agricultural commissioner. There is no state enforced action other than providing for pest cleanliness.”
Small populations of yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis) are found in some grassy areas of the Ranch. It is an Old World plant that probably arrived in California in the mid-1800′s, as a contaminant in alfalfa seed. It is now found in every county in California because it threatens both rangelands and native plant communities.
Yellow starthistle is a non-palatable, aggressive weed with allelopathic properties. One plant can produce many seeds, which can remain viable in the soil for ten or more years. It establishes readily on disturbed soils and thrives on light sandy and gravelly soils, such as found in riparian areas. Seed is disbursed by vehicles, animals, flowing water, rain, and wind.
St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), or Klamath weed, one population of which is in the WTM1D type, is considered by some people to be a useful medicinal plant. Other people consider it to be an invasive, noxious weed because it threatens both rangelands and native plant communities.
St. John’s wort is toxic to livestock when consumed in quantity. It is aggressively competitive and can spread rapidly by seed and rhizomes. Seed can remain viable for ~10 years or more in the soil and for at least 5 years submerged in fresh water. Plants typically produce an average of 15,000-33,000 seeds per plant. It establishes readily on disturbed sites and thrives in open areas and on slightly acidic to neutral soils. It does not tolerate saturated soils. Seed and capsules disperse with water and adhere to machinery, tires, shoes, clothing, and feet, fur, or feathers of animals.
The landowners are not currently attempting to eradicate these two invasive species as their populations are small and have not yet impinged on any major management objectives. But if St. John’s wort becomes a management problem the landowners will harvest it and extract essential oils for sale and home use to help reduce the costs of mitigating its spread.
The U.S. Forest Service soil survey (“Soil Survey of Shasta-Trinity Forest Area, California”, USDA-USFS, Soil Conservation Service, and U.C. Agricultural Experiment Station, 1983), shows that the Ranch lies within the Western Province of the Klamath Mountains. This province is geologically quite diverse, composed primarily of metasediment, limestone, ultramafic, meta-volcanic, basic intrusive, and granitic intrusive rocks. The TPZ portion of the Ranch (Tract 53) is underlain by residuum weathered from serpentine rock. The APZ portion of the Ranch (Tract 44) is primarily underlain by residuum weathered from metasedimentary and/or metavolcanic rocks. Portions of the APZ are underlain by residuum weathered from serpentine and ultramafic rock.
The only soil survey for this property is reported in the 1983 “Soil Survey of Shasta-Trinity Forest Area, California”. As the acting Forest Supervisor for the Shasta-Trinity National Forest cautioned in the ‘Foreword’ to this document, “This survey was intended to provide soils information for broad land management planning and is not intended for use in project level work. The purpose of the soil survey is to provide soil resource information suitable for general planning stages for land management for allocation of resources based upon land capability for large tracts of land in a short period of time.” With that caveat, the essential information for the four soil types found on the Ranch is as follows, with more detailed information in Appendix 3:
The Dunsmuir family of soils, 15-40% slopes (50), which comprise about 54% (172 acres) of the Ranch and most of the APZ parcel, is composed of 75% Dunsmuir family soils. Soils to a 7” depth are reddish brown gravelly light sandy clay loam, moderate fine granular and weak medium subangular blocky structure, 20-35% gravel, medium acid. From 7-53” they are reddish brown gravelly clay loam and gravelly clay to yellowish red very cobbly clay loam, moderate medium subangular blocky structure, 20-55% gravel and cobbles, medium acid. From 53-60” is found weathered ultramafic rock. The Forest Survey site class is 3-5 (Dunning’s site class I-III), with a site index at 100 years of age of 80-175 (feet) and a mean annual increment of 50-164 cubic feet per acre per year. The available water holding capacity (AWC), water that is held in a soil that is readily available to plant roots, is a measure of long term site productivity. The AWC in the first 24” of soil is 3.3-3.8” and for the entire soil profile is 6.5-10.0”, depending on the depth to bedrock. These soils have moderately low to moderately high runoff potential, moderate soil erodibility, high seedling survival potential (a function of the AWC in the upper 20” of soil), moderate to high plantability potential, and high potential for roadbed damage. The typical vegetation series found on these is Sierran-Cascade Mixed Conifer Forest. A moderate to low calcium to magnesium imbalance may limit the tree species that can survive and their growth rates.
The Deadwood Neuns family of soils, 40-60% slopes (35), which comprise about 46% (147 acres) of the Ranch and most of the TPZ parcel, is composed of 60% Deadwood family and 30% Neuns family soils. Deadwood family soils to a 3” depth are dark brown very gravelly sandy loam, weak fine granular structure, 55% gravel, and neutral. From 3-15” they are yellowish brown and light brown very gravelly loam and extremely cobbly heavy loam, weak fine and medium subangular blocky structure, 55-65% gravel and cobbles, and slightly to medium acid. From 15-17” is found moderately fractured, slightly weathered metamorphosed shale. The Forest Survey site class is 6-7 (Dunning’s site class of V-VI), with a site index at 100 years of age of 52 (feet) and a mean annual increment of <20-49 cubic feet per acre per year. These soils have moderately high runoff potential, low soil erodibility, very low to low seedling survival potential, low plantability potential, and low potential for roadbed damage. The typical vegetation series found on these soils are Open Mixed Conifer-Oak Forest, Canyon Oak Woodland, and Upper Montane Mixed Chaparral.
The Neuns family of soils to an 11” depth are brown to light brown very gravelly sandy loam, weak to moderate medium granular structure, 35-45% gravel, and slightly acid. From 11-23” they are light brown very gravelly sandy loam, moderate fine subangular blocky structure, 55% gravel and cobbles, and slightly acid. From 23-34” is found highly fractured, slightly weathered metamorphic rock. The Forest Survey site class is 5 (Dunning’s site class of IV), with a site index at 100 years of age of 67 (feet) and a mean annual increment of 50-84 cubic feet per acre per year. These soils have moderately low runoff potential, low soil erodibility, low to high seedling survival potential, moderate to high plantability potential, and moderate potential for roadbed damage. The typical vegetation series found on these soils is Douglas-fir-Pine Mixed Conifer Forest.
The three other soil types found on the Ranch comprise less than 1% (<2 acres) and are so insignificant that they are not described here other than to give their names and soil numbers: Goulding family-rock outcrop complex, 50-80% slopes (85), Holland family, deep soils, 20-40% slopes (116), and Typic xerorthents, 60-80% slopes (328).
Streams, Wetlands, and Ponds
Water is an increasingly precious commodity. An abundant supply of clean water is beneficial to all life. The best way to insure this supply is to maintain healthy watersheds. A healthy watershed is one which has a vegetative and plant litter cover which protects the soil from being dislodged by rainfall impact and eroded by surface runoff and allows for rapid infiltration and percolation of rainfall into and through the soil.
Buckhorn Creek, a perennial (Class I on the Ranch) tributary to Eltapom Creek, which flows into the South Fork of the Trinity River, flows in a southerly direction through the western portion of the TPZ parcel and the corner of the Ranch just east of the house. This creek is fed by rainfall, snowmelt, and springs and creeks that mainly originate on the Trinity National Forest. Due to the lack of human habitation and low human use in the watershed upstream from the Ranch, the water is of high quality. A Class II tributary to Buckhorn Creek flows in an easterly direction through the southern portion of the Ranch to join Buckhorn Creek east of the property boundary.
Buckeye Creek, a seasonal (Class II on the Ranch) tributary to the South Fork of the Trinity River, and two Class II and III tributaries to it flow through the western portion of the Ranch.
Water classes, from the California Forest Practice Rules, are as follow:
Water Class Characteristics or Key Indicator Beneficial Use
1) Domestic supplies, including springs, on site and/or within 100 feet downstream of the operations area and/or
2) Fish always or seasonally present onsite, includes habitat to sustain fish migration and spawning.
3) Fish always or seasonally present offsite within 1000 feet downstream and/or
4) Aquatic habitat for nonfish aquatic species.
5) Excludes Class III waters that are tributary to Class I waters.
No aquatic life present, watercourse showing evidence of being capable of sediment transport to Class I and II waters under normal high water flow conditions after completion of timber operations.
Man-made watercourses, usually downstream, established domestic, agricultural, hydroelectric supply or other beneficial use.
Water for domestic uses, two vegetable gardens, open areas for pasture and ecologically compatible wildlife, perennial food crops and for irrigation of an heirloom orchard and a young orchard on the Ranch is supplied from Buckhorn Creek via a hydraulic ram, which supplies 2300 – 4600 gallons of water per day. There is a backup gas-powered water pump that fills two 2500 gallon tanks in about 3 hours. Water is stored in five above ground plastic tanks. An 800 gallon per day spring has been located above a skid trail into the WO4P type (see “Vegetation Types” map) and is in the process of being developed.
The property owners are studying the feasibility of restoring the pond in the most westerly portion of the TPZ parcel, which is approximately 100 yards wide and 400 yards long, by removing deposits of silt/peat which have built up over years and have left the pond a seasonal marsh. This will enable the seasonal creek flowing from the pond for 8-9 months to become a year-round waterway. The property owners are researching the feasibility of combining the mostly organic sediment/peat in the marsh with wood waste from fuels removal and thinning to make soil and worm casting, which can be sold to cover at least some of the costs of restoring the forest and pond.
As stated on the Northcoast Regional Water Quality Control Board’s website, “Section 303(d) of the federal Clean Water Act and 40 CFR §130.7 require states to identify waterbodies that do not meet water quality standards and are not supporting their beneficial uses. These waters are placed on the Section 303(d) List of Water Quality Limited Segments (List), also known as the 303(d) List of Impaired Waterbodies. The List identifies the pollutant or stressor causing impairment and establishes a schedule for developing a control plan to address the impairment. Placement on this list generally triggers development of a pollution control plan called a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for each waterbody and associated pollutant/stressor on the list.” “Additional information about the 303(d) List and tables and maps showing the current 2010 303(d) List of Water Quality Limited Segments and the Status of TMDLs in the North Coast Region are available on the 303(d)/305(b) webpage: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/northcoast/water_issues/programs/tmdls/303d/.
The South Fork of the Trinity River is a Section 303(d) listed waterbody and TMDLs have been developed for sedimentation/siltation and temperature. These TMDLs apply to all tributaries that contribute to the environmental conditions in the South Fork of the Trinity River.
The landowners are not currently generating any woody debris that requires treatment by burning.
Fish & Aquatic Species
Buckhorn Creek is a Class I watercourse due to a non-anadromous fishery (rainbow trout) and domestic use. A 1975 survey by the USFS found that the early summer flow in the first mile of the creek (above the confluence with Eltapom Creek) was 7 cfs and that fish habitat was constrained by low flows. From where it crosses the property boundary Buckhorn Creek is approximately 7000 feet stream distance from Eltapom Creek, which has an identified anadromous fishery. Although a 1975 USFS report on Eltapom and Buckhorn Creeks identified a barrier (15-18’ waterfall) to anadromous fish migration ~1 mile upstream from the South Fork of the Trinity River, a 2007 winter steelhead spawning survey by the CA Department of Fish and Game (2008 Report, Trinity River Tributaries, Steelhead Spawning Survey Report) found that of nine creeks surveyed, Eltapom Creek had the highest redd density (12.31 redds/km). Winter steelhead spawning surveys done in Eltapom Creek in 1990-1995 and 2000-2007 had redd counts varying from 2 to 25 redds/km, with all but five years having counts over 11 redds/km.
Buckeye Creek and its tributaries were dry at the time of the forest inventory for this management plan (October 2012), so do not support a year-round fishery on the Ranch. The presence of a fishery downstream from the Ranch is unknown.
The fish habitat in Buckhorn Creek generally appears to be adequate. There are numerous pools where rainbow trout up to 5 inches in length were observed. The creek, which runs in a southerly direction between steep slopes, is well shaded by adjacent conifers (mostly Douglas-firs) and hardwoods (alders and canyon live oaks). There are small gravel bars adjacent to and within the creek and abundant large woody debris. The only potential barrier to fish migration is a small (5 foot) waterfall just north of the tributary near the north boundary of the property.
Sediment is being transported to Buckhorn Creek by the Class II watercourse running through the most southern portion of the APZ parcel. Sediment is being introduced into this channel through a number of Class III watercourses by bank and channel erosion, erosion from the power line right-of-way, and erosion from roads, including USFS Road and the dirt road that enters the most southern portion of the APZ parcel from the east, just south of USFS Road. The latter road may also be contributing sediment where it runs along the watercourse and at the old, washed out crossing.
There is considerable bank erosion occurring along some portions of the three Class III tributaries that converge into the main tributary to Buckeye Creek that is just north of USFS Road. Erosion on one tributary begins above the shotgun culvert under USFS Road and is severe along many sections of the watercourse. The tributary to the north of this one has severe bank erosion in its lower portion, as does the one north of it. This bank erosion is continuing to add sediment to Buckeye Creek, a tributary to the South Fork of the Trinity River.
There is severe slope instability below the road along the northwest portion of the MHW4D type. Land sliding appears to be the result of past timber harvesting on steep slopes. Portions of these slides have re-vegetated but other areas are still actively eroding. It appears that most of the sediment is being captured before it enters Buckeye Creek, but some is still entering the creek. These slides need to be stabilized.
In the event of future soil or vegetation-disturbing projects, buffers of undisturbed vegetation, leaf litter, and soil should to be maintained on either side of the creeks to act as sediment filter strips, to protect stream banks from erosion, and to shade the creeks. Care needs to be taken to prevent sediment and debris from entering the creeks and to minimize excessive water temperatures, especially during summer and fall. On Buckhorn Creek stream buffers should be 75 feet wide (slope distance) on slopes up to 30%, 100 feet wide on 30-50% slopes, and 150 feet wide on slopes greater than 50%. On Buckeye Creek and all Class II tributaries, buffers should be 30 feet wide on slopes up to 30%, 50 feet wide on 30-50% slopes, and 100 feet wide on slopes greater than 50%. On Class III tributaries, buffers should be 25 feet wide on slopes up to 30% and 50 feet wide on slopes greater than 30%. Runoff from roads and exposed soils needs to be routed in a manner which will allow it to pass through this filter strip before entering the creeks.
Species of animals, amphibians, reptiles, or birds that may live on or visit Skunk Ranch are listed in Appendix 3.
Wildlife habitat is quite varied, ranging from ridgetop evergreen hardwood forests to mid-slope mixed-conifer hardwood forests to lower slope conifer forests and deciduous hardwood forests interspersed with grasslands. Many mature conifers (mostly Douglas-fir but some pines) and hardwoods (mostly canyon live oak, Oregon white oak, and California black oak, but some Pacific madrone) provide an abundant food supply for a variety of species. This food supply is enhanced by shrubs, berries, and grasses.
There are numerous special habitat elements, such as tree cavities, snags, logs, and tree stumps of various species, sizes, and decay conditions, rock outcrops, talus slopes, slide areas, shrub fields, glades, marshes, seasonal pools/ponds, and creeks.
Threatened or Endangered Species – Animals and Plants
Information provided in THP 2-01-212-TRI (4) filed by SPI in 2001 noted the possibility of three T&E species visiting or existing on the Skunk Ranch, the northern spotted owl, the wolverine, and the southern torrent salamander. A summary follows of what was found regarding these species:
Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis) – Although portions of the forest provide suitable foraging habitat, no northern spotted owls (NSO) were observed. A NRCS (Weaverville, CA) search of the CA NDDB located NSO sightings within ½-mile to the west of the Skunk Ranch along Buckeye Creek, within 1 mile to the north along Buckhorn Creek, and within 2 miles southeast along USFS Road 4N24.
Southern Torrent Salamander (Rhyacotriton variegates) – Suitable habitat exists in Class I and II watercourses and/or springs, but no southern torrent salamanders were observed.
Information provided in THP 2-01-212-TRI (4) filed by SPI in 2001 found the following for seven of the eleven species of special concern listed in the Forest Practice Rules (14 CCR 895.1 Definitions) (Bald eagle, Golden eagle, Great blue heron, Great egret, Northern goshawk, Osprey, Peregrine falcon, California condor, Great gray owl, Northern spotted owl, and Marbled murrelet):
Great blue heron (Ardea herodias) – Although the marsh area is suitable for heron feeding, no great blue herons or rookeries were observed.
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) – There is no suitable osprey habitat and no ospreys or nests were observed. The current forest manager believes he saw an osprey near the main house in 2012.
Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) – Although the glades and grassy areas are suitable as foraging habitat, no golden eagles were observed.
Northern goshawk (Accipter gentilis) – Although the forest provides suitable foraging and nesting habitat, no northern goshawks were observed.
Great egret (Casmerodius albus) – The species range is outside of the Skunk Ranch.
Great gray owl (Strix nebulosa) – The species range is outside of the Skunk Ranch.
California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) – The species range is outside of the Skunk Ranch.
Information provided in THP 2-01-212-TRI (4) found the following for three species found by the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife to be of significant interest to the California public:
Pacific tailed frog (Ascaphus true) – Suitable habitat exists in Class I and II watercourses and/or springs, but no tailed frogs were observed. A NRCS search of the CA NDDB located a Pacific tailed frog within 2 miles northwest of the property in Underwood Creek.
Pacific fisher (Martes pennanti pacifica) – Although the forest provides suitable foraging and denning habitat, no Pacific fishers were observed. A NRCS search of the CA NDDB located a Pacific fisher centered within 1½ miles north of the Ranch on Underwood Mountain. A neighbor reports to have seen a fisher along USFS Road in 2012.
Pine marten (Martes americana) – Although the forest provides suitable foraging and denning habitat, no pine martens were observed.
The Ranch is within the range of two plant species of special concern, Erythronium citrinum var. roderickii and Penstemon filiformis. During the botanical survey for THP 2-01-212-TRI (4), a small population of Erythronium californicum (13 plants) was discovered on the edge between a meadow and a mixed conifer-oak stand northwest of the gate at the west end of the main access road to the Ranch.
The results of the California Natural Diversity Database check done in 2012 by the NRCS in Weaverville, CA are included in Appendix 4.