Mendocino National Forest

Last updated
Mendocino National Forest
Rattlesnake creek.jpg
Rattlesnake Creek
Usa edcp relief location map.png
Red pog.svg
Map of the United States
Nearest city Willows, California and Covelo, California
Coordinates 39°33′45″N122°48′45″W / 39.56250°N 122.81250°W / 39.56250; -122.81250 Coordinates: 39°33′45″N122°48′45″W / 39.56250°N 122.81250°W / 39.56250; -122.81250
Area913,306 acres (3,696.02 km2)
Established1907
Governing body U.S. Forest Service / Department of Agriculture
Website Mendocino National Forest

The Mendocino National Forest is located in the Coastal Mountain Range in northwestern California and comprises 913,306  acres (3,696 km2). It is the only national forest in the state of California without a major paved road entering it. There are a variety of recreational opportunities — camping, hiking, mountain biking, paragliding, backpacking, boating, fishing, hunting, nature study, photography, and off-highway vehicle travel.

Contents

The forest lies in parts of six counties. In descending order of forestland area they are Lake, Glenn, Mendocino, Tehama, Trinity, and Colusa counties. [1] Forest headquarters are located in Willows, California. There are local ranger district offices in Covelo, Upper Lake, and Stonyford. [2]

Alder Springs Road in Mendocino National Forest looking east Alder Springs Road.jpg
Alder Springs Road in Mendocino National Forest looking east

Wilderness areas

The forest includes four wilderness areas:

The Sanhedrin and Yuki wildernesses were signed into law on October 17, 2006. This legislation, entitled "Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act", added areas to both the Yolla Bolly - Middle Eel Wilderness and Snow Mountain Wilderness, and established the two new wilderness areas in the Mendocino National Forest.

Rivers, lakes, and hot springs

Mendocino National Forest overview map.jpg
Rice Fork Eel River at Crabtree Hot Springs CrabTreeHotSprings32.jpg
Rice Fork Eel River at Crabtree Hot Springs

Rivers include: Eel River, Rice Fork Eel River, Middle Fork Eel River, Black Butte River, and Stony Creek (Sacramento River).

Lake Pillsbury is the largest recreational lake in the forest at 2,280 acres (9.2 km2) and offers boat ramps, camping and resorts.

Letts Lake, southeast of Lake Pillsbury is 35 acres (140,000 m2) in size and has hiking trails, campgrounds and is close to trailheads into Snow Mountain Wilderness.

Other lakes include Plaskett Lakes in the middle of the forest, Howard, Hammerhorn, Square and Long Lakes near Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness in the northern portion.

History

In 1905 the first surveys of public domain lands were conducted by Professor Lachie of the University of California, Berkeley, working under the direction of Gifford Pinchot, Chief of the United States Forest Service, to determine what land should be included in a forest reserve. In 1905 the U.S. Congress moved the reserves from the General Land Office in the Department of the Interior to the new Division of Forestry in the Department of Agriculture. The Division of Forestry became the U.S. Forest Service.

President Theodore Roosevelt set aside the reserve (as authorized by the Forest Reserve Act of 1891) [3] on February 6, 1907 as the Stony Creek Forest Reserve and one month later, the reserve was added to the national forest system as the Stony Creek National Forest. [4]

Because of the difficulty of managing such a large tract of land, the northern portion was reassigned to Trinity National Forest, then the final boundaries of the new Stony Creek forest were drawn and was signed into law by executive order of the president on July 2, 1908 and renamed the California National Forest. [5]

Yet another name

Sanhedrin Mountains of Mendocino National Forest Sanhedrin.jpg
Sanhedrin Mountains of Mendocino National Forest
#71 Dry Creek Fire District truck at Lake Pillsbury. DryCreekFireDistrict71.jpg
#71 Dry Creek Fire District truck at Lake Pillsbury.

"In order to avoid the confusion growing out of the state and a national forest therein having the same name" President Herbert Hoover signed executive order 5885 renaming California National Forest to Mendocino National Forest on July 12, 1932. [6]

The development of the forest increased to 81 offices, lookouts and guard stations until improvements in transportation and communications allowed some offices to be closed. Today there are three ranger districts, with some of the former guard stations now being utilized as "work centers" that are primarily staffed by fire crews. Two areas managed by the Mendocino National Forest are outside the contiguous boundaries and they are the Genetic Research Center in Chico, California, and the Lake Red Bluff Recreation Area in central California. [7]

Genetic Research Center

Acquired by the Forest Service in 1974, it was originally a plant breeding research and plant introduction facility that was started in 1904 on a 209-acre (0.85 km2) site under the Agriculture Research Service. The center's research gradually changed to developing and producing genetically improved plant material for the reforestation program of the Pacific Southwest Region. Major work is done in the areas of biological, chemical, and clinical research on anti-cancer drugs derived

Wildfires

The infamous Rattlesnake Fire occurred here in 1953. One Forest Service employee and 14 volunteer firefighters perished. The circumstances of the tragedy resulted in major changes in firefighting strategy and training. [8] The firefighters are memorialized at the Rattlesnake Fire Memorial overlooking Rattlesnake Canyon. Access to it can be found off of Forest Highway 7 on County Road 307/Alder Springs Road.

The Trough Fire burned almost 25,000 acres (100 km2) of the Mendocino National Forest in 2001 including land in the Snow Mountain Wilderness.

Between late July and early September 2018, the Mendocino Complex Fire burned approximately 284,000 acres (1,150 km2) in the southern portion of the forest, or around one-third of the forest's total area. [9] One firefighter was killed by falling debris near Lake Pillsbury on August 13. [10] The burned area included the entire Snow Mountain Wilderness. [11]

Originating as 38 separate fires started by lighting on August 16 and 17, 2020, the August Complex Fire became the largest wildfire in California history. The fire was primarily burning through the Mendocino National Forest, and grew to over 1,026,000 acres.

Wildlife

Tule elk herd at Lake Pillsbury TuleElkPillsbury1.jpg
Tule elk herd at Lake Pillsbury

The tule elk is one of the largest land mammals native to California, with cows weighing up to 350 pounds, and the largest bulls weighing roughly 500 pounds. Hunted to near extinction during the state's gold rush era, the animals were reintroduced to the Lake Pillsbury Basin in the late 1970s by the California Department of Fish and Game, and the herd has steadily grown, numbering around 80 in 2007.

The elk live on the north shore of the lake at the bottom of Hull Mountain, and enjoy wild clovers and grasses, along with the green summer and fall foliage around Lake Pillsbury's edges. Mendocino National Forest and Los Padres National Forest are the only two national forests in California to have tule elk. There is a 10-day hunting season beginning on the second Wednesday in September each year.

Vegetation

An estimated 60,000 acres (240 km2) of old growth occur here, including forests of Coast Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii), Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa), White Fir (Abies concolor), Tanoak (Lithocarpus densiflorus), and Pacific madrone (Arbutus menziesii). [12]

Footnotes

  1. Table of acreage by state
  2. USFS Ranger Districts by State
  3. Section 24 authorized the President to set aside timber reserves, along with the national parks and monuments already in existence, a shift in public land policy from disposal to retention. The natural resources found on public lands were to be "managed for the people" in the future. After heated discussion of its implications for homesteaders and presidential power, the bill was accepted and later signed by President Benjamin Harrison on March 3, 1891.
    www.fs.fed.us/global/wsnew/fs_history/issue12.doc
  4. Davis, Richard C. (September 29, 2005), National Forests of the United States (PDF), The Forest History Society, archived from the original (PDF) on October 28, 2012
  5. Superintendent of Documents Government Printing Office (1912). Catalogue of the Public Documents of the Sixtieth Congress and of All Departments of the Government of the United States for the Period from July 1, 1907 to June 30, 1909 (No. 9 of the "Comprehensive Index" provided for by the act of January 12, 1895). Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office. pp. 211, 1365. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  6. Proclamations and Executive Orders, Herbert Hoover, March 4, 1929 to Marcy 4, 1933, Vol 2. Washington: US GPO. 1974. p. 1274. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  7. United States Forest Service fact sheet titled Mendocino National Forest-the first 100 years.
  8. Cermak, Robert W. (1 Jul 2005), Fire in the Forest: A History of Forest Fire Control on the National Forests in California 1898-1956, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region, pp. 318–323, ISBN   1-59351-429-8
  9. Larson, Ruby (9 Oct 2018), "Team completes assessment of burned areas in Mendocino National Forest following fires", Appeal-Democrat
  10. Thompson, Don (20 Aug 2018), "Investigators: Utah firefighter Matt Burchett died after retardant drop on California fire", Associated Press
  11. Mendocino National Forest Ranch Fire Closure Order No. 08-18-15, Exhibit A, 11 Sep 2018
  12. Warbington, Ralph; Beardsley, Debby (2002), 2002 Estimates of Old Growth Forests on the 18 National Forests of the Pacific Southwest Region, United States Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region

Related Research Articles

Klamath Mountains

The Klamath Mountains are a rugged and lightly populated mountain range in northwestern California and southwestern Oregon in the western United States. As a mountain system within both the greater Pacific Coast Ranges and the California Coast Ranges, the Klamath Mountains have a varied geology, with substantial areas of serpentinite and marble, and a climate characterized by moderately cold winters with very heavy snowfall and warm, very dry summers with limited rainfall, especially in the south. As a consequence of the geology and soil types, the mountains harbor several endemic or near-endemic trees, forming one of the largest collections of conifers in the world. The mountains are also home to a diverse array of fish and animal species, including black bears, large cats, owls, eagles, and several species of Pacific salmon. Millions of acres in the mountains are managed by the United States Forest Service. The northernmost and largest sub-range of the Klamath Mountains are the Siskiyou Mountains.

Angeles National Forest

The Angeles National Forest (ANF) of the U.S. Forest Service is located in the San Gabriel Mountains and Sierra Pelona Mountains, primarily within Los Angeles County in southern California. The ANF manages a majority of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.

Trinity Alps

The Trinity Alps are a mountain range in Siskiyou County and Trinity County, in Northern California. They are a subrange of the Klamath Mountains and located to the north of Weaverville.

Sequoia National Forest

Sequoia National Forest is located in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains of California. The U.S. National Forest is named for the majestic Giant Sequoia trees which populate 38 distinct groves within the boundaries of the forest.

Los Padres National Forest

Los Padres National Forest is a United States national forest in southern and central California. Administered by the United States Forest Service, Los Padres includes most of the mountainous land along the California coast from Ventura to Monterey, extending inland. Elevations range from sea level to 8,847 feet (2,697 m).

Shasta–Trinity National Forest

The Shasta–Trinity National Forests are federally designated forests in northern California, United States. Combined, they are the largest National Forest in California and are managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The 2,210,485 acre combined-forest encompasses five wilderness areas, hundreds of mountain lakes and 6,278 miles (10,103 km) of streams and rivers. Major features include Shasta Lake, the largest man-made lake in California and Mount Shasta, elevation 14,179 feet (4,322 m).

Plumas National Forest National Forest in northern California, United States

Plumas National Forest is a 1,146,000-acre (4,638 km2) United States National Forest located at the northern terminus of the Sierra Nevada, in northern California. The Forest was named after its primary watershed, the Rio de las Plumas, or Feather River.

Six Rivers National Forest

Six Rivers National Forest is a U.S. National Forest located in the northwestern corner of California. It was established on June 3, 1947 by U.S. President Harry S. Truman from portions of Klamath, Siskiyou and Trinity National Forests. Its over one million acres (4,000 km2) of land contain a variety of ecosystems and 137,000 acres (550 km2) of old growth forest. It lies in parts of four counties; in descending order of forestland area they are Del Norte, Humboldt, Trinity, and Siskiyou counties. The forest is named after the Eel, Van Duzen, Klamath, Trinity, Mad, and Smith rivers, which pass through or near the forest's boundaries.

King Range (California)

The King Range is a mountain range of the Outer Northern California Coast Ranges System, located entirely within Humboldt County on the North Coast of California.

The Mendocino Range is one of several coastal mountain ranges which compose the Pacific Coast Range. This massive range of coastal mountains was formed during a period of coastal orogeny, millions of years ago. The Mendocino Range is a component of the California Coast Ranges of California. The Klamath Range is north of this region, and the Cascade Range runs to the northeast.

Umpqua National Forest

Umpqua National Forest, in southern Oregon's Cascade Range, covers an area of 983,129 acres (3,978.58 km2) in Douglas, Lane, and Jackson counties, and borders Crater Lake National Park. The four ranger districts for the forest are the Cottage Grove, Diamond Lake, North Umpqua, and Tiller ranger districts. The forest is managed by the United States Forest Service, headquartered in Roseburg.

Lake Pillsbury

Lake Pillsbury is a lake in the Mendocino National Forest of Lake County, California, created from the Eel River and Hull Mountain watershed by Scott Dam. Elevation is 1,818 ft (554 m) with 65 mi (105 km) of shoreline and covering 2,003 acres (811 ha). Activities in the Lake Pillsbury Recreation Area include powerboating, fishing, swimming, sailing, picnicking, hiking and hang gliding. There are two main access roads to the lake. At the north end of the lake is a small gravel airstrip. Over 400 homes including National Forest Recreational Residences ring this beautiful recreational lake.

Snow Mountain Wilderness

The Snow Mountain Wilderness is a 60,076-acre (243.12 km2) federally designated wilderness area located 65 miles (105 km) north of Santa Rosa, California, USA in the Mendocino National Forest. The U.S. Congress passed the California Wilderness Act of 1984 which created 23 new wilderness areas including Snow Mountain. It lies within the North Coast Range of mountains.

Yolla Bolly–Middle Eel Wilderness

The Yolla Bolly–Middle Eel Wilderness is a federally designated wilderness area in the Yolla Bolly Range of the southern Klamath Mountains and the Inner Northern California Coast Ranges, in Northern California.

Middle Fork Eel River

The Middle Fork Eel River is a major tributary of the Eel River of northwestern California in the United States. It drains a rugged and sparsely populated region of the Yolla Bolly Mountains, part of the California Coast Range, in Trinity and Mendocino Counties. Its watershed comprises roughly 745 square miles (1,930 km2) of land, or 20% of the entire Eel River basin. The river provides groundwater recharge and is used for recreation and for industrial, agricultural and municipal water supply by residents.

Rice Fork Place in California, United States

The Rice Fork is a 22.7-mile-long (36.5 km) tributary of the Eel River in Lake County, California. The Rice Fork begins on the upper northwest side of Goat Mountain, on the Colusa-Lake County line, at an elevation of over 6,000 feet (1,800 m). It quickly descends the steep western slope of the mountain, then bends northward, and flows northwesterly down a narrow winding steep walled canyon for about 18 miles (29 km), crossing two forest roads and adding many tributaries, ending its journey at the southern tip of Lake Pillsbury, at a varied elevation around 1,800 feet (550 m), depending on the lake level. Before the construction of Scott Dam in the 1920s, which formed Lake Pillsbury, the Rice Fork ran directly into the Eel River. It is one of Lake County's longest streams.

Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument Land preserve in the Coastal Ranges of California

Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument is a national monument of the United States comprising 330,780 acres (133,860 ha) of the California Coast Ranges in Napa, Yolo, Solano, Lake, Colusa, Glenn and Mendocino counties in northern California. Cache Creek Wilderness is located within the monument.

North Yolla Bolly Mountain

North Yolla Bolly Mountain is a 7,868-foot (2,398 m) peak in the Klamath Mountains of the Coast Ranges located in Trinity County, Northern California. The mountain is located in an isolated part of the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness, in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, about 50 miles (80 km) west of Red Bluff. It is situated about 13 miles (21 km) from Mount Linn, the highest point of the Coast Ranges south of the Trinity Alps.

Mendocino Complex Fire 2018 wildfire in California

The Mendocino Complex Fire was a large complex of wildfires that burned in northern California for more than three months in 2018. It consisted of two wildfires, the River Fire and Ranch Fire, which burned in Mendocino, Lake, Colusa, and Glenn Counties in the U.S. State of California, with the Ranch Fire being California's single-largest recorded wildfire at the time. The Ranch Fire burned eight miles northeast of Ukiah, and the River Fire burned six miles north of Hopland, to the south of the larger Ranch Fire. First reported on July 27, 2018, both fires burned a combined total of 459,123 acres (1,858 km2), before they were collectively 100% contained on September 18, though hotspots persisted until the complex was fully brought under control on January 4, 2019. The Ranch Fire alone burned 410,203 acres (1,660 km2), making it the largest wildfire in modern California history at the time. The Ranch Fire also surpassed the size of the 315,577-acre Rush Fire, which burned across California and Nevada, as well as the Santiago Canyon Fire of 1889, which was previously believed to have been California's all-time largest wildfire. It was surpassed by the August Complex in September 2020.

August Complex fire 2020 wildfire in California

The August Complex was a massive wildfire that burned in the Coast Range of Northern California, in Glenn, Lake, Mendocino, Tehama, Trinity, and Shasta Counties. The complex originated as 38 separate fires started by lightning strikes on August 16–17, 2020. Four of the largest fires, the Doe, Tatham, Glade, and Hull fires, had burned together by August 30. On September 9, the Doe Fire, the main fire of the August Complex, surpassed the 2018 Mendocino Complex to become both the single-largest wildfire and the largest fire complex in recorded California history. On September 10, the combined Doe Fire also merged with the Elkhorn Fire and the Hopkins Fire, growing substantially in size. By the time it was extinguished on November 12, the August Complex fire had burned a total of 1,032,648 acres (417,898 ha), or 1,614 square miles (4,180 km2), about 1% of California's 100 million acres of land, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island.