My first week here in the Arcata, CA BLM office has been a great introduction to an ecosystem about which I know little. It is fun to experience mixing of unfamiliar excitement with familiar comforts. For example, this week I helped install tsunami warning signs on a BLM-managed trail to the ocean. A Minnesota native, I am used to being around water. But the possibility of a magnitude 9 earthquake leading to waves that could swallow most of a city is a new consideration. And while I’ll miss the blooming of springtime ephemerals in MN, in old growth redwood groves I have spotted western relatives of some of my favorites – trilliums and dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra formosa).
I am here as a forestry technician. A large part of my time will be spent on a Sudden Oak Death (due to a pathogen, Phytophthora ramorum) mitigation project. This project will involve cutting and piling tanoak (Notholithocarpus densiflorus) and California bay trees (Umbellularia californica) over 142 acres. The project will also reduce fuel loads and help restore the forest to historic densities.
Overall, I am happy to be in an unusually diverse region. Ecologically and geologically, there are so many different things happening in NW California! Tidepools, coastal marshes, endemic dune species, the largest redwoods, six significant rivers, sedimentary and volcanic mountain ranges, enough federally designated wilderness to fill a lifetime, and forest stands with 18 species of conifers are all easily accessible.
Happy exploring, wherever you are!