Posts Tagged ‘environment’

WolfDance Sanctuary

 

I’m a lucky guy to have 2 gardens to be involved with. These pictures are of my 40 acre Homestead that I purchased with my friend Cedar 30 years ago this year. We lived there for several years, building cabins and trying to make a home on a piece of land where no one had ever lived before. It’s completely off the grid, with no electricity, running water, or phone, and we have a great outhouse too. It’s 1.75 miles just to drive up the driveway from the main county road and the last 1/2 mile is 4 wheel drive only because it’s so steep.

It’s a huge amount of land and I had great visions of creating my botanical garden there when we moved there in 1984. Unfortunately the pond we thought would give us water for years went down to a mud puddle by September and the work I did was so hard on me that my back eventually went into a bad spasm and I had to move back to the city in the fall of 1989. That 5 1/2 year period living there was quite wonderful and so exciting, but also so very hard on my body and spirit as I realized that I could never create the homestead and garden I’d envisioned there and had to give up those dreams in favor of just keeping the land as a retreat for ourselves and our friends.

I feel very grateful to “own” this land, tho our plan all along has been to entrust it to a Land Conservation Trust at some point when we can no longer manage to make it there and take care of the place. It’s a 7 hour drive from Seattle so we don’t go often but when we do we try to do the maintenance work that has to occur to keep it from being overtaken by the wild nature of the land. We have black bear, cougar, coyote, mule deer, pheasant, grouse, bobcat, lynx, eagles and hawks, and so many birds you can’t even keep track. The forest covers 1/2 of the land with a mix of Douglas Fir and Ponderosa Pine with some Quaking Aspen thrown in here and there for their beauty. The rest is Sagebrush and Bitterbrush Chaparral, or High Desert Plateau.

We tried planting some things there but only a few survived due to lack of regular water. One is the Bristlecone Pine in one picture we planted as part of a ceremony in 1987. It’s grown some with no water, but the native trees on the land have grown immensely in the 30 years we’ve had the land and it’s a Sanctuary for the plants and animals that live there. We plan to put restrictions in the Conservation Easement when we sell it so that it can never be logged or mined so this small 40 acre parcel will always be that Sanctuary in a very real sense. The land is wild and surrounded by other wild land, so it’s isolated at the end of the road and no one ever comes there but us.

It’s a safe haven for the animals except during deer season when hunters cross our No Trespassing signs and come to shoot our deer. Not much we can do but when we’re there we discourage it and I’ve had some run ins with hunters that were pretty scary to me, who doesn’t own a gun and never has and I confronted guys with rifles on occasion to get rid of them and not let them hunt there. It’s a challenge at times, but it’s been a hunting ground for some of the locals for years and they consider it their right to hunt there. It’s an attitude that we can’t change but can try to discourage, and we do.

The pictures are somewhat self explanatory with the labels I put on them, I hope. When I say we’re looking down into the Bowl, that’s the part in the center of the land that is surrounded on all sides by larger hills and is where the pond and all our cabins are located. It’s a 5 acre area that is about all the area we’ve done work on , and we’ve kept that to a minimum. We cleared out lots of the old wood that had been left by the loggers who cut some trees in 1980 before we got there and we used the timber to build our first cabin, mostly out of poles and scavenged wood and windows from friends and neighbors.

The whole first cabin only cost us around $200 in nails and roofing and it’s still standing and we use it for storage now because the rats have taken over there. It’s awful but we hate to kill them so we’re trying to remove all the places they can nest and get rid of them that way if we can. We were just there last week and did a bunch of work to clean up the old cabin and make it safer for humans again, tho we’ll never use it for sleeping or food prep. again. It’s just too gross. Sad but true. Rats are awful!

We started building our first cabin in the Fall of 1984, after living in a tent for awhile and then a Tipi for a few more months. It was really cool to live in the Tipi and we had our woodstove in it to keep it warm but it was all pretty intense. It was a good experience in living close to the earth and being in tune with the land as much as we could be. We finished the cabin on December 15th and moved in for the winter, only to discover the road was too steep and snowy to drive in and so we had to rent a small house in town to work each year, except for when I lived on the land one winter all alone. It was a real challenge since my back was hurt badly and my partner Cedar could only come up now and then on weekends. It was a rough winter for me.

By then I was living in my own cabin which I show in some of the pictures. You can see how small it is at only 12 x 10 feet with an addition I put on a few years ago of 8 x 8 for a bedroom area. All this was done on a shoestring budget so it’s pretty rustic to say the least. My cabin is made from Slab Wood from a Chain saw mill our neighbor gave us after he logged some of the land he bought nearby. Cedar’s cabin is made of dimensional wood and framed correctly and will stand for years and years. I dunno about the main cabin or mine but the shed is also very strong and will stand for a long time. As I said there were no buildings on the land when we got there so we built all of them ourselves and it was a Lot of work. Just living in that environment was hard work, having to haul our water, except for when we had a water system from the pond for a couple of years until it was too hard to maintain so we had to give it up.

I tried to include views of many parts of the land itself as well as views of what it looks like when you look out from the land. It’s at 3300′ elevation and at the top of a range of hills that means we have about a 330 degree view  from the top where I took some of these pictures. You can see down into the main part of the land to where the pond is located and also the area where we have all the cabins and the shed. We try to keep the road mowed each year but this year our mower died so it’s still all grassy and hard to navigate thru. Hopefully  we’ll fix our old mower here in town and take it back there to mow some later in the year or else next year. It doesn’t require much maintenance anymore except for cleaning out the old cabin, but it’s still work to mow the road and we only do it once a year.

I ended the tour with a few shot of the animal presences we have at the land. You can see both bear and cougar scat as well as a small ants nest (yes I said Small – they get twice this size!) just to prove there are such creatures living there I guess. It’s hard to get pictures of the animals themselves and we didn’t see any deer this trip but did see signs of them as well as the others.

We really try to keep this land safe and are intent on putting it into a Trust someday to keep it safe forever. I hope we can do that as we love the place and it’s a treasure to have it. We adapted to the legal fiction that we own it, tho our attitude  is the land owns US and we have to adapt to its needs and the way it is there and not do too much to change its natural state. We manged to not impact most of the land for which I’m grateful. It’s a beautiful place. I’m sorry I can’t live there anymore but I’m just too banged up these days to pull it off. But I still enjoy going over there and spending time with it.

It’s peaceful and you can see a million stars since it’s so isolated. It’s located in the Okanogan Highlands and is in North Central Washington State, just about 20 miles as the crow flies from Canada which I show in one picture at least. It’s wild and natural and we hope we can still go to it until other folks live there some day, which I hope can happen. It’s a hard land to live on tho and hard to homestead there because of all the rock and lack of water, but it can be done, as we showed. I could write books about our experiences living there and trying to make it work. It eventually beat us up too much to live there but just being able to visit is truly wonderful and we’re so grateful to be the caretakers of this land for now at least. We hope it stays safe as a Sanctuary for a long time after we’re gone….

Now it’s back to the City…

Steve

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Trees of the Rain Forest

The Quinalt River valley and rain forest is home to some of the world’s largest trees. Some of them are the biggest trees outside of California where the Coast and Giant Sequoias grow. In this one valley are 6 of the largest trees, either in Washington State or in the whole world for some species. These include the Western Red Cedar, the Sitka Spruce, the Yellow Cedar, the Mountain and Western Hemlocks and the Douglas Fir.

In the first picture here you can see the world’s largest spruce tree. It’s a Sitka Spruce, or Picea sitchensis, as the sign tells and is absolutely huge. I tried to get as much of it in the picture as possible but it’s just too tall. It’s located just a short walk from the Ranger Station and the Quinalt Lodge in the heart of the river valley so it’s an easy one to get to and marvel at.

The next picture is of the world’s largest Western Red Cedar, Thuja plicata. We didn’t even try to shoot the top of this because the forest was too dense to see it but you can tell it’s a giant from the size of this trunk. It’s so ancient feeling. I’m not sure how old it is but it’s 174 feet tall and has a circumference of 63 feet. It’s on the north side of the lake and took some hard hiking to get to, as it was very wet when we took this shot last year. But it was worth the climb… The shot after that shows a large cedar from the top down. It’s not a record breaker but it’s still large and gives you an idea of how they grow.

The next shot is an unusual one and one we never thought we’d see. It’s in a subdivision near the ocean and is a Dougls Fir trunk that is estimated to have been 1000 years old when it was cut down at the turn of the last century. That’s the 20th century btw… so it was cut in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. They plan to hollow it out and cover over the inside to make it a tree house and a history lesson for the people who see it. It should be amazing to see when it’s done.

If you look closely at the left side you can see notches cut into the trunk. This is how they cut down these giants. They cut chunks out and hammered in planks which they stood on to saw thru the trunk many feet in the air as the bole of the tree was too wide to cut otherwise and was useless lumber. There are huge stands of these stumps all over the West in forests that have been logged. It’s am ingenious way to cut them down, tho personally I can’t understand the mind of a person who would dare to cut down an ancient being like this tree was. As I said in my last post I’m against logging old growth forests wherever they are. It’s too late for this one but there are many others that need protection.

Next is the trunk of a large Douglas Fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii. Not a record breaker, still the largest one in the world is located in the park near where we hiked. It was too far to make it to it so here are its stats. It’s 302 feet tall and 40 feet around. Huge isn’t the word for it I guess. It’s massive. It’s a tie with one somewhere else I don’t know where, but it may be in British Columbia which also has some huge trees. I took a picture of the trunk close up and then looking up into this tree. The next shot is of the Fir gracing the lawn at the edge of the lake near the Lodge. It shows how a Fir can grow when it’s not surrounded by other trees. Pretty nice, eh?

Next is a Western Hemlock. The largest one of this in the US is here in the Park too. It’s pretty isolated so we couldn’t see it but I wanted to give an idea of how they grow. The biggest one is 172 feet tall and 27 feet around. Not as big as the firs but still large. The Mountain Hemlock isn’t pictured here, but the largest in the world is in a far away part of the park also. It’s some 152 feet tall and only 6 feet in diameter. They stay skinny, which is why I can grow one in my garden…

The final Big Tree in the famous 6 is a Yellow Cedar, which is neither particularly yellow nor a cedar but that’s what they call it. It’s a Chamaecyparis nootkatnensis and is on the north side of the lake. Too far to hike to. It’s “only” 129 feet tall and 37 feet in circumference. It grows from Oregon up into Alaska and is often called Alaska Cedar tho it’s a False Cypress by botanical name. I understand it’s name is in confusion now tho and may have a new genera name soon. We’ll see…

Here are a few of these trees all growing together in one place. In one you can see 4 of these big trees and in the other who can tell? I sure can’t from the picture tho I could at the site. I should have written it down I guess. These show how dense the forest is in the rain forest. Remember that this area gets around 12 Feet of rain a year on average, which means some years they get more! Amazing….

Here’s a large Red Alder, Alnus rubra. Not a giant at all but still quite nice. These cover huge tracts of land in the West and also fix nitrogen in the soil so they improve the soil where they often are one of the first things to come in after a clear cut or fire. Next is a Vine Maple, Acer circinatum, a large one at the base of a large cedar. These are also all over the rain forest and grow sorta like a Japanese maple. I have one I just planted in my garden too. The next is a simple shot of a Shore pine, Pinus contorta, which covers vast areas of the coastline all along the way from Oregon up to Washington and further north to BC. This is in someone’s garden in Moclips but it was a nice specimen I wanted to show you as its covers so much of the forest.

The last 4 shots are of trees that some human planted back in the day when the Lodge was first built in 1937 or so. I’m not sure just when they planted these there after that but I assume it was soon so figure these are only 75 years old or so and they are huge trees already. The first is of trunks of a few Coast Redwood that are probably 8 feet across and 0ver 100 feet tall, right out front of the Lodge. There are many more in back.

The next shot is of the Cryptomeria japonica that I have many cultivars of in my garden. This is the species and must be 80 feet tall or more. I’m not great at judging heights…  These have large trunks also and this is a clump of 5 trees you’re seeing here. I was surprised to be able to see this particular tree in the park. I didn’t know it was used so long ago in cultivation in such a place, but that just makes it more interesting to me…

The next is a large specimen of a Cryptomeria japonica elegans, which I also have in my yard. I’ve never seen one this big and was amazed that it actually gets this tall and wide. All the books say so but seeing is believing and it’s different in person. This is in someone’s front yard and I was thrilled to see it as we drove by and made Louie turn around so I could get a shot of it. I’m glad I did as it reminds me of mine as it grows.

Finally is something I’m assuming is an Atlas Cedar. A true cedar, Cedrus atlantica, not the Western cedar which is actually an arborvitae, or Thuja. This tree must have been planted here too and it’s probably 80 or 90 feet tall. I’m not 100% certain of my identification but I’m pretty sure that’s what it is. It’s native to the Atlas mountains in N. Africa and elsewhere in the mid east. Related to the Deodar and Lebanese Cedars, all Cedrus species.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of the Big Trees of the Rain Forest. I’m so amazed that in this one little valley there could be all these huge trees. Obviously the rainfall is something they all love and the deep rich soil of the Olympic mountains feeds them well so they can reach record proportions. I feel lucky to have seen the ones I saw and hope that maybe we’ll hike in to see some of the others some time, tho as I get older that seems less likely. Hiking is hard work… 😉

Lovin’ the Big Trees,

Steve

A Week At the Ocean

Louie and I continued our third year of tradition by going to the Ocean for a week last week. We got to a little town called Moclips on the Olympic Peninsula near the Quinalt Indian Reservation land. In fact we wandered on the edge of the Res. in our hikes around the territory. It was a peaceful and wonderful week at the Sea, just being with the tides and the woods and the sun, which amazingly shown the whole time we were there. Wow!

We left Seattle on Monday with plans to stay thru Friday and saw a bit of rain on the way but it wasn’t bad, and by the time we arrived it was sunny and bright out. I immediately took the first picture here from the porch outside our window. This is the view we had the whole time we were there on the ocean. It was magnificent and so close it felt you could just touch it.

You can see how old this motel is, and how funky. It’s about a 1/2 a star rating I have to say but we like it OK and it’s so close to the beach you can’t beat it for the price and ease of access. And being so close to the Res. is wonderful all by itself. We spent a whole day on the Res. at the Quinalt Lake and I’ll post a couple posts on that later on. This is about our time at the sea.

You can just make out the bald eagle in the shot here. It’s right in the middle of the picture, which I blew up so it’d seem closer to us. This was the first day we were there and it’s a real treat to see it dancing in the wind. We have them in Seattle too of course but there’s something that’s really cool about seeing one in the wild like this. Such a magnificent bird.

There’s a lot of trails into the rain forest and I’ve tried to capture a feel of what it’s like to walk along the beach and into all the forest itself. The wind does a really cool job of sculpting the plants and trees at the waters edge. It gets pretty high sometimes but when we were there we had a big beach to wander on. But in winter’s high tide time it gets pretty high and all the beach is under water. I’d not want to be there then I think…

We just wandered all over in the rainforest. The area gets over 100 inches of rain a year and it shows with all the mossy growth on the trees. I shot a picture with a huckleberry and a salal just growing in the top of an old piling. This is called a nurse tree and I’ll show more in another post. Many plants start out on rotting timber. It’s a handy spot to be in I guess.

Many of the rest of these shots show what it’s like to be inside the forest, and some of the cool things we found in it, like the treefort some kids probably put together to hang out in. It’s perfect for that and only a short walk from town, tho it feels miles away. I can just imagine the parties they hold there in the summer… 😉

It’s almost eerie inside the forest, it’s so green with the sunlight filtering down thru the plants. The trees are mostly Sitka Spruce which usually get huge but here they’re almost dwarf but still large in the trunk. They make the forest so interesting and the ways they’ve found to grow is just amazing.

We wandered along the edge of the Res. every day we were there, taking pictures and just being amazed at the scenery. There’s something very magical about being in a rain forest with all its colors and the constant dampness and rot. It’s very primeval seeing it in its growth and decay.  It makes you feel like you’re all alone in the world and no one can touch you. An amazing feeling to have.

I’ll write more on visiting the Quinalt Reservation later on and show you some big trees we saw. I’ll do that in a few days or so. We’re still recovering from all the walking we did on the trip. I’m not used to so much and it got me pretty good, but it’s OK because it was so healthy to do and made us feel so good to be there. We’re lucky to have been able to take this trip and I hope we can make it a 4 year tradition next year.

From Moclips on the Sea,

Steve

Plant Amnesty Says: Stop Topping Trees

PlantAmnesty bumpersticker

This is a blatant promotion of a non-profit organization here in Seattle that I think more people should be aware of. I’ve been a member for a few years and have deep respect for their work. They’ve literally changed the way people see Trees and plants in this area and show statistics of some of those changes here in this Info. kit I’ve copied from their website, (with permission I might add). The words are theirs, but they could just as well be mine. Please think about what they are saying and consider contacting them about joining them or starting a similar group in your area. The world needs its Trees and needs them to be healthy and well pruned. It’s all about pruning to Plant Amnesty and they deserve a lot of support. I’m just trying to do my share here.

A Stand for Trees.

“We promise that when we take what we want from Nature, that we will do so selectively and with respect. Always we will preserve the health and integrity of the whole, be it a plant, a rainforest, or a planet.” Cass Turnbull, Founder, PlantAmnesty.

PlantAmnesty Mission Statement
To end the senseless torture and mutilation of trees and shrubs caused by mal-pruning (and other common forms of plant mis-management).

Most people take it for granted that trees and plants are being maintained properly, or that it’s not really a major issue. But think of the green infrastructure of our city — improper pruning and tree topping add up to an expensive waste of resources, and many trees and plants pay for these mistakes with their lives.

PlantAmnesty was founded in 1987 to “stop the senseless torture and mutilation of trees and shrubs.” The nonprofit group uses a unique blend of humor and controversy to raise public awareness of “Crimes Against Nature” committed in our own backyards. PlantAmnesty vows to end Crimes Against Nature. After alerting the public to this problem, our volunteers provide readily accessible and accurate information, materials and services.

PlantAmnesty’s solutions to plant abuse and neglect include garden renovation workshops, classes, videos, a referral service and volunteer pruning and tree projects throughout the community. Several grants have allowed our group to produce and distribute thousands of Pruning Guides, Saving Trees and Views pamphlets, tree biology quizzes for local students, tree planting guides and locally-produced public service announcements.

A serious “Crime Against Nature” is the misguided practice of topping trees. One of PlantAmnesty’s major efforts over the past two decades has been to stop this “torture and mutilation.” Why doesn’t topping work? Topping actually increases a tree’s growth rate rather than slowing it, and this makes it an expensive choice. It’s also ugly. But mostly it’s dangerous because it rots, starves and weakens a tree. Topping trees can also decrease property values for a homeowner and the entire neighborhood.

PlantAmnesty’s media campaign works. In the Seattle 1990 edition of the yellow pages, 17 of the 28 businesses with display ads advertised topping as a service. That’s 61%. In 1998 that number was 10/22 or 45%. In 2001 it was 8/34 or 23%. In 2003 only 3 in 36 advertised topping – a mere 8%!

Heritage Tree Program: Since there is little legal protection for trees in Seattle, PlantAmnesty decided to identify and celebrate the City’s special trees.
Funding for the Seattle Heritage Tree program was originally supplied by a grant from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and the USDA Forest Service. Additional support has been provided from time to time by various departments of the City of Seattle. In-kind volunteer services are provided by PlantAmnesty arborists and members of the Heritage Tree Committee. In 1999 the City of Seattle became an official partner of the program, providing staff support and the Heritage Tree web site at: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/heritagetree.htm.

Goals:
Raise Awareness of the Problem.
Provide Solutions (referral service, education, volunteer pruning and care).
Engender Respect for Plants.
We Affirm:
That our organization is inclusive, tolerant and based on grassroots collective action.
That our educational materials are clear, current and technically accurate.
That we will maintain a sense of humor and good-will being outspoken on the issues.

PlantAmnesty has more than 1000 members in 31 states and four countries. We are part of a growing movement to lead society out of the dark ages of landscape care.
PlantAmnesty members share a common bond of caring about green things, and they know that an immense amount of damage is done to our landscapes as a simple result of widespread ignorance.

PlantAmnesty provides these valuable services to the community:
• Alerting the public to Crimes Against Nature with a media campaign that employs humor, education and controversy to raise public awareness. We average one million readers – viewers – listeners per year.
• Educational materials and literature including “how-to” guides, videos, pruning topics, articles, essays and slide shows. We average 300 free DVDs and videos, 6,000 free pruning guides and $3,000 worth of literature are distributed annually.
• Pruning classes, lectures, and hands-on lessons, workshops and demonstrations. Average 50 classes and 2,000 people taught annually.
• Professional arborist and gardener donated work days.
• Web Site: http://www.plantamnesty.org.
Password Library available to members.
• Seattle Heritage Tree Program.
• Master Pruner Program.
• Nasty Letter Writer.
• Thousands of calls and requests for information answered by our office staff and volunteers.
• Educational display booths and speakers bureau.
• Gardener and Arborist referrals made through our free Referral Service.

PlantAmensty engenders respect for our urban ecology by speaking out on behalf of the urban forest. We have fun while we try to change the world, because we take our mission, but not ourselves, seriously.

Volunteers are the heart of most any non-profit organization, PlantAmnesty included. Our members spend countless hours providing much-needed services and education to the public. Volunteers participate in events such as the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, PlantAmnesty’s Fall FUN(d)raiser, Master Gardener’s Plant Sale and the International Society of Arboriculture’s annual conference. PlantAmnesty always needs people to speak on behalf of trees, and serve on our committees. PlantAmnesty staffs educational booths with volunteers, always pairing up a veteran with a newcomer. We also encourage members to come to Volunteer Yard Renovations. These group projects allow professional gardeners the opportunity to share tricks of the trade, tool information, and to get to know others of their kind. Novices get the opportunity to learn how to weed and prune from more experienced members. And besides, everybody feels great after saving a needy and deserving landscape from years of neglect.
Volunteers are invited to serve on these PlantAmnesty committees:
• Heritage Tree
• Education & Advocacy
• Tree Programs
• Financial Development
• Events (Fall Plant Sale)

Awards: Seattle’s Friend of the Trees Award, International Society of Arboriculture’s Gold Leaf Award, National Arbor Day Foundation’s Education Award.
PlantAmnesty is a federally approved 501 C-3 non-profit organization. As such, donations are tax deductible. Our Federal EIN Number is 91-1393557

PlantAmnesty
P.O. Box 15377
Seattle, WA 98115-0377
Tel: 206-783-9813
Fax: 206-529-8023
Email: info@plantamnesty.org
http://www.plantamnesty.org

Back to me again. I hope this has been a fun read for you. It always is for me and I get inspired just reading about their work as well as doing it in my own ways of educating people about how to prune correctly or choose the right plants to put in our yards and gardens. It’s a mission for some of us and has been for me my whole life as a gardener and landscaper, since I was in my teens even. I never did like topped trees and now I understand a lot more about why I didn’t and don’t. Please think about your choices when you prune your trees and shrubs. It can make or break your garden and leave horrid scars that last for years and may never be overcome. I’ve seen too much of it and if I seem a bit over zealous, well, it’s because I am 😉

Happy and Safe Pruning to you all,

Steve

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