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Photo Tour of
Usal Redwood Forest

Walking in Usal Redwood Forest
Walking in Usal Redwood Forest

In June 2007, the non-profit Redwood Forest Foundation Inc. (RFFI) bought a depleted but recovering redwood / Douglas fir forest - the Usal Redwood Forest - from the Hawthorne Timber Company. A "green loan" from Bank of America for $65 million made this possible.

Usal: View of the Pacific Ocean through the trees
View of the Pacific Ocean through the trees




The approximately 50,000 acres in Mendocino County, California, stretch from the Pacific Ocean in the west to the Eel River along Highway 101 in the east.

Usal: Eel River at Wayside Park #5
Eel River at Wayside Park #5




The property includes most of the Usal Creek watershed as well as many creeks that flow into the Eel River.

Alders near the mouth of Usal Creek provide shade for guests in summer
Alders near the mouth of Usal Creek




Alders near the mouth of Usal Creek provide shade for guests in summer. This site borders the Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, where California's Lost Coast hiking trail begins.

Trees of Mystery
Trees of Mystery

Trees of Mystery
Usal's "Enchanted Forest" is filled with Trees of Mystery. Legend has it that nine woodsmen disappeared here and bizzarely shaped redwoods captured their souls.
Trees of Mystery

Usal: Ceanothus bush in full bloom
Ceanothus
Usal: Iris purdyi
Iris purdyi
Usal: Thistle (cirsium occidentale)
Thistle (cirsium occidentale)

In early summer the forest puts on quite a display.




Usal: Bear wallow
Bear wallow








Evidence of animal life is everywhere, like this churned up wallow where bears come to cool off.

Usal: Bear claw marks on dead tanoak
Bear claw marks on dead tanoak






These distinctive claw marks remind us again that this is black bear country.

Usal: redwood and Douglas fir
Redwood and Douglas fir




In this working forest, redwood and Douglas fir are the main tree species harvested.

Usal: redwood groves along road
Redwood groves along road





Signs of logging practices are everywhere. This grove has grown up around the huge stump of its parent.

Usal: Young redwood growing out of cut stump
Redwood growing out of cut stump




It is usual for young redwoods to grow out of the root stock of their cut parents.

Usal: Piercy Creek clearcut
Piercy Creek clearcut



Past clearcutting, however, allowed the faster growing tanoak trees, which are not valued for their lumber, to thrive and shade out the slower growing redwoods and Douglas fir.

Usal: Tanoak crowding redwood and fir
Tanoak crowding redwood and fir



Currently there is an over-abundance of tanoak trees on the Usal property. They account for about 45% of the total volume.
[see chart]

Usal: R. Ballard explaining to group
R. Ballard explaining to group




On tours of the land, foresters discuss their strategies for managing the stands.

Usal: Redwood seedling growing in brush clearcut
Redwood seedling growing in brush clearcut






In the past herbicides were used to keep down unwanted plants and to allow redwood seedlings to grow. This practice, described below, is no longer used in the Usal Redwood Forest, although it is commonly used in California’s coniferous forests.

Usal: R. Ballard pointing
R. Ballard pointing




One type of application that was used in the past applied a limited amount of herbicide is called 'hack & squirt.'

Usal: 'hack & squirt'
'hack & squirt'



In the past, the bark was hacked and a small amount of toxic chemicals squirted into the tree, which killed it over time.

Usal: Young redwood growing among dead tanoak
Young redwood growing among dead tanoak



When the tanoak canopy is gone, redwoods and Douglas fir get sunlight and have the chance to grow.

Usal: 'hack & squirt' versus none
'hack & squirt' versus none

On the left side of this picture, you can see the dead trees that had been treated with 'hack and squirt.' On the right, there is an abundance of tanoak (lighter green foliage). RFFI has declared a moratorium on the use of herbicides as a means of controlling competing tanoak and unwanted brush.


RFFI's Usal Redwood Forest Company is experimenting with alternative non-herbicidal methods of removing competing vegetation. These approaches are much more costly.



Usal: Piercy Creek old growth redwood
Piercy Creek old growth redwood






This old growth redwood tree (center of photo) was left standing during past logging. It provides ideal nesting habitat for osprey.

Usal: Golden chinquapin
Golden chinquapin







The magnificent golden chinquapin is another species that is native to Usal Redwood Forest.

Usal: Humboldt milk-vetch (listed species)
Humboldt milk-vetch (listed species)



On the disturbed surface of a landing, we found a patch of Humboldt milk-vetch, a listed endangered species.

Usal: Rattlesnake Creek
Rattlesnake Creek





In late summer, Rattlesnake Creek still had water.

Usal Redwood Forest

RFFI now owns a well-stocked forest that it will manage sustainably for biological diversity and the future of the residents of Mendocino county.




See also: 2008 Usal Forest Restoration Projects



For more information about the Usal area
  • Usal Valley - historical photo Mendocino County Post Cards
    collected by Ron Parker of the Mendocino County Historical Society. Towards the bottom of the page there are several links to photos of Usal.



  • Usal Valley - historical photo Usal 1942 - 1985
    Historical photographs and family story of a long-time resident.



    Sinkyone: Lost and Found
    The inside story of the decade-long battle for the future of a Lost Coast wilderness, told candidly and personally, by Neal Fishman; in California Coast & Ocean magazine (Autumn 1996).




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