Wild Wednesday … Mystery Wildflower!


lavender, wildflower, Sierra, Indian Valley


A lavender wildflower. Does anyone recognize this flower? I took the picture in the Indian Valley of the Northern Sierra.

My forester/botanist office neighbor, Tom, knew it right away. So did Lisa, a FB friend. It is Spiraea douglasii or it’s common names are Douglas’ spiraea, hardhack steeplebush, steeplebush and rose spiraea. It’s a native of the western US and Canada and is commonly used a landscape plant. Who knew?

Forestry Friday … Mountain Thunderstorms


Looking across Indian Valley at a mountain thunderstorm. We’ve had many storms, already this year. Fortunately, they’ve been moisture laden. Dry lightening is a huge concern in the Sierra Nevada, especially in a dry year like this.  Our long term weather prediction is for high thunderstorm activity in July and August. Hopefully, a healthy dose of rain goes with it.

Lake Almanor

A downpour coming across Lake Almanor.

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Unfortunately, thunderstorms are so spotty when it comes to rain. As of yesterday “sleepers” started popping up all over Northern California. The sleepers are the smoldering lightning strikes that flare into a full blown fires when the temperatures rise and humidity falls.

Rain1

Most of the lightning fires have already been extinguished by the fire services, but there are always a few that get away. Today we are suppose to reach 103 F in the valley and 108 F tomorrow. Despite the rain, it’s fire season in Northern California.

Forestry Friday … Spotted Pine Sawyer


Pine Sawyer Beetle, pen and ink, pen, drawing

The Spotted Pine Sawyer in pen and ink.

PineSawyer3

The spotted pine sawyer beetle is in the longhorn beetle genus. If you hang out around enough log landings you’re bound to see them. This one flew into my truck.

PineSawyer2

Be careful how you pick them up. They have strong mandibles and are happy to bite you.

They reproduce in dead and dying trees. Their larvae will bore into the log, thus reducing its value.

Pine Sawyer Grub, larva, larval

The larval form is a borer that damages the wood.

PineSawyer1

A log deck in the wood is a natural attractant for the beetles. If the logs sit in the woods too long the beetles will get into them.

PineSawyer4

Spotted Pine Sawyer, Monochamus galloprovicialis.

Forestry Friday … First Trip to the Woods


Bliss is a forester’s dog and this was her first day at work.

golden retriever, retriever,forester, puupy

It’s her job to go to the woods. There’s no time like the present to start training her.

On her first day she got to play in numerous rivers and visit the redwoods. Not bad for a day one. I documented her day in the gallery below.

Forestry Friday … Millions of Dead Trees


This story appeared in the May 2015, California Forest Pest Council newsletter. The effects of the drought are manifesting in Southern California forests through massive tree die-off.

Early Aerial Surveys Find Millions of Dead Trees 

TehachapiBugKill

2015 Pine Mortality Near Tehachapi. By J. Moore, USFS.

The US Forest Service, Forest Health Protection conducted special early season aerial surveys of Southern California and the Southern Sierras in April to get a preliminary assessment of forest conditions in some of the most severely drought-impacted areas of the state. The Southern California survey covered more than 4.2 million acres and identified approximately 2 million dead trees over 164,000 acres. It included most of the Cleveland, San Bernardino, Angeles, and Los Padres National Forests as well as Pinnacles National Monument and nearby private lands. Noteworthy finds included a substantial increase in pine mortality on the Descanso Ranger District of the Cleveland National Forest as well as a large area of scattered live oak mortality south of the Palomar Ranger District. Increased pine mortality was also observed on the San Jacinto District, and large areas of live oak mortality were observed along the southern extent of the Angeles National Forest. In Los Padres National Forest, expanded severe Jeffrey and pinyon pine mortality was observed, and private lands north of Pinnacles National Monument had extensive areas of Coulter and gray pine mortality, as well as live oak mortality, for a third year in a row.

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Hardwood Mortality in the Sierra Foothills. By Z. Heath, USFS.

The Southern Sierra survey included more than 4.1 million acres and identified nearly 10½ million dead trees over 835,000 acres. It covered western portions of Stanislaus, Sierra, and Sequoia National Forests and Yosemite and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks as well as the Tehachapi Range and nearby private lands. Mortality in the Southern Sierras was quite severe in many pine species, especially ponderosa and pinyon at lower elevations and to the south, and foothill mortality was often widespread and severe, especially in ponderosa and gray pine. Mortality on the Stanislaus roughly doubled since July 2014 in the areas resurveyed this spring, with severe pockets of ponderosa and other pine mortality seen in the low areas to the south. On the Sierra and Sequoia National Forests, western pine beetle-associated pine mortality was common and severe at lower elevations, with an estimated 5 million trees killed, compared to about 300,000 trees last year in the same area. Southeastern portions of the Sequoia National Forest and wilderness areas further east also had intense pinyon mortality, and on the Tehachapi Range and private lands along the Sierra foothills, extensive areas of pine mortality were common.