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Suggested Purchase Areas

Emauel Fritz, University of California

Without an adequate purchase plan the acquisition of lands for future state forests is likely to become haphazard, the administration and management uneconomical, and the principal objective--growing timber for harvesting--may not be possible of accomplishment. Consequently, it is desirable to set up purchase areas within which the first state forests should be located. The areas suggested hereinafter are based solely on their suitability for growing timber economically, in good volume and of good quality. It is believed these areas present the best possibilities as investments and as timber-growing units for the State; it is believed further that their cost can be recovered from the sale of the products they can and should yield when placed under management. Some of them are capable of producing returns very early--easily within the first tan years of their control by the State.

No purchases should be made outside these areas unless a tract should become available at a low price; if this tract is on good enough soil to produce a good crop of quality timber in a reasonable time; if it is large enough to administer economically; and if there is a clear-cut need for such a small state forest outside the larger purchase areas as a local demonstration forest or for solving some important local forest problem.

An order of priority of purchase as to desirability and suitability should be set up to make the expenditure of the first moneys appropriated most effective toward the desired ends.

At the present time no purchase area is set up for southern California. Although there are no extensive cutover lands and a very limited commercial forest area in this part of the State, there are local problems affecting timber-growing possibilities by afforestation which the State should investigate. There has been insufficient time to make a thorough canvas of this section to select desirable areas. Such a survey should be instituted at an early date.

Purchase Areas in the Redwood Region

Fortunately there are in the redwood region large solidly-blocked areas of cutover land. Their highest permanent use seems to be forest production. The region is one of extraordinarily good timber-growing possibilities. The combination of soil, precipitation, general climate and natural tree species create conditions for very high timber yields. For unemployment camps the region offers year-long work. The fire danger is low. The lands included in the purchase areas are largely cutover except as indicated in the text describing each area. The lands can be bought cheaply now, but there is a movement toward selling off the lands for stock grazing. For this use the lands are suited only temporarily and during periods of good prices for sheep and cattle. Once prepared by burning and seeding, good grazing may be expected for a few years when burning and seeding must be repeated to control the intrusion of brush species. Each such treatment is followed by lessened productivity and ultimately the lands are no longer profitable for stock raising and they quickly revert to brushfields of no value. It were far more profitable for the welfare of the State and local communities if these lands are kept in tree growth, their highest use. Those which have not yet been grazed too long or burned repeatedly are capable of reforestation at reasonable cost. At the prices such lands have been selling for, their purchase and regeneration should be good investments for State ownership and management.

Five Purchase Areas are proposed by the writer for the consideration of the State Board of Forestry when a state forest acquisition has been approved. These were based on the prevalence of cutover land in need of help to make it produce better, and on the importance of future crops upon the stability of local communities. Since each one still contains some uncut virgin timber, an effort should be made by the State's foresters to get the owners to enter into pre-cutting agreements under which the logging will be conducted on a selective logging basis and the land then acquired by the State at a previously established price fully compensating the owner for what he leaves.

The Van Duzen River redwood belt is not included in the recommended set of Purchase Areas, under the assumption that the large percent of uncut timber would make purchases by the State impractical at present. Nevertheless, should cutovers become available in this region at favorable prices they should be bought and held for the time this section can be developed in its entirety as a State-managed unit. Because cut through by an important state highway, this section has values additional to timber growing. It is a favorite retreat for coastal residents.

REDWOOD PURCHASE AREA NO. 1 (Northern Humboldt)

 LOCATION: East of Trinidad and Arcata. Includes the watersheds feeding into Big Lagoon (Maple Creek, Pitcher Creek, etc.), Little River, upper Lindsay Creek, and parts of Mad River. Big Lagoon itself should be regarded as an integral part of the unit. It contains about 2,000 acres of water surface and flat land; has high recreational values; has importance for future mill sites, and has existing state parks (Dry Lagoon State Park and Patricks Point State Park, Humboldt County), just to the north and south respectively.

GENERAL CHARACTER: Rolling to mountainous country originally bearing very heavy stands of redwood, averaging more than 100 M per acre. The first shipments of redwood lumber from Humboldt County came from this area--Trinidad. Most of it was logged in the steam logging days. Part is still being so logged. The older lands bear good crops of second growth; several thousand acres have been planted. Grazing has been carried on on a large part of the area after the main slash burn, but is gradually being given up. The Mad River portion is still being grazed between the sprout clumps.

Maple Creek and Little River, owned by a single company, have potential water storage possibilities for industrial and domestic uses. The city of Eureka now obtains its water supply from the southern portion of the Area, i.e., along Mad River. This part, therefore, has immediate watershed protection values.

A State Game Refuge of about 2,500 acres has been established in Little River basin. Elk now abound, as well as deer.

The entire unit, except a narrow strip near Korbel, is well protected by natural topography against trespass. Good sites for large labor camps are available.

Logging is still in progress in the north fork of Maple Creek (Hammond Lumber Company) and in the north fork of Mad River (Northern Redwood Company).

AREA: The Purchase Area contains approximately 130,000 acres. About 73,000 acres of cutover land are immediately available.

TAXES: Taxes on cutover land alone in paid up to date and totals approximately $l0,000 annually.

PRINCIPAL OWNERS: Hammond Lumber Company, 37,160 acres; Dolbeer and Carson Lumber Company, 7,863 acres; and Northern Redwood Company, 24,670 acres. Other owners are California Barrel Company, M. A. Burns Manufacturing Company, etc.

SUITABILITY AND DESIRABILITY: Complete watersheds of large area are available intact, without foreign interior holdings. Agricultural pursuits--mainly grazing--fringe the area. Heavy yields are possible. Regeneration on most of the block should be feasible. Several thousand acres of redwood, Douglas-fir and Port Orford cedar plantations, set out in the 1920's occur in the Lindsay Creek and Little River basins. Game animals abound. Little River has been stocked with elk and beaver. Excellent second growth on Little River, Luffenholtz Creek, Mad River, and Lindsay Creek.


LOCATION: East of a line between Eureka and Fortuna, Humboldt County. California Division of Forestry headquarters are under two miles from southern end.

GENERAL CHARACTER: Mountain terrain, with long slopes, suitable in the main for tractor logging. About 75% cutover. Once supported heavy stands. Much of it logged in bull-team days. Cloney, McCready and Graham Gulches, lower Salmon and Elk Rivers, part of Ryan Slough, and Strongs Creek (Newburg) are heavily covered with 50 to 70-year-old second growth. Logging still in progress on Elk River (Dolbeer and Carson Lumber Company on north fork and Elk River Mill and Lumber Company on south fork) and on Salmon Creek (Salmon Creek Redwood Company and Holmes Eureka Lumber Company). Some blocks of small ownerships of virgin timber within the area will eventually be purchased by the present operators. Elk River was source of water supply for Eureka until about 1939. In Freshwater Creek are remnants of virgin forest. The University of California owns about 4,500 acres of virgin timber in the area. If this Purchase Area is approved steps should be taken to acquire this area to be managed along with the rest of the unit. An isolated quarter section, the NE1/4, Sec. 18, T 4 N, R 1 E, would make an excellent experimental area to establish cutting practices to be followed on the main University of California tract and for yielding invaluable information for dissemination to other owners to promote better cutting practices.

AREA: The Area embraces approximately 61,000 acres held by six principal owners--The Pacific Lumber Company, 16,,382 acres; McKay and Company, 8,000 acres; Dolbeer and Carson Lumber Company, and Elk River Mill and Lumber Company, together about 15,000 acres; Mitchell, Dorr Realty Company, about 7,500 acres; E. J. Dodge and Company., 5,000 acres. About 29,000 acres of cutover land immediately available.

TAXES: Approximately $3,600 per year on the cutover land available for immediate purchase. All paid up to date.

PRINCIPAL OWNERS: As stated under Area, plus University of California, Press Estate, Odd Fellows, and others. These holdings are virgin timber.

SUITABILITY AND DESIRABILITY: As in Purchase Area No. 1, large unbroken blocks are available, controlling complete the watersheds of Ryans Creek, Freshwater Creek, and Strongs Creek. The basins of Elk River and Salmon Creek should become available when logged. Precutting agreements, I believe, can be worked out with the owners. This is absolute forest soil, heavy growths are possible as demonstrated by the young growth already past 50 years old. Area in well watered and old railroad grades abound for future protection and utilization roads. Area is close to large population centers--Eureka and Fortuna--but ingress of users is easily controlled. Early utilization is possible in the older second-growth stands. This Area can be extended eastward along the Van Duzen watershed as the land becomes available.

REDWOOD PURCHASE AREA NO. 3 (Central Mendocino)

LOCATION: Eastward from Mendocino City. Includes all of the watersheds of Big River, Caspar, Jughandle, Mitchell and Hare creeks. (See terminal note on text regarding this area.)

GENERAL CHARACTER: Very large cutover, with some blocks of excellent virgin timber in the headwater creeks of Big River. The best and oldest second growth of the entire redwood region occurs on lower Big River. Some of the earliest research work of the forestry staff of the University of California was conducted in these second-growth stands. Some were found to exceed at 65 years, in 1923, l00,000 board feet per acre. In the same year the writer cut 3/4 acre of a similar stand and the Mendocino Lumber Company milled the logs (College of Agriculture Project 688). Hare, Mitchell, Jughandle and Caspar Creeks also bear very heavy stands of second growth. Some of the most successful forest plantations, made in the 1920's, occur in the area. Logging is still in progress in some parts--Caspar Lumber Company on Chamberlain Creek, and Sage Land and Improvement Company on Two Rock Creek. A block of timber on the main Big River, owned by The Mendocino Lumber Company is available for logging. Every kind of logging, except perhaps slackline yarding, was practiced in the area, logging having commenced in about 1851. The area is well blocked, with three principal owners, and full control of the watershed is possible. County roads traverse the north and south bounding ridges and a cross road was built by the State Division of Forestry in the 1930's with CCC labor for protection purposes. Two lookout stations, Two Rock Peak and Mathison Peak, command full views over the area. The easternmost portion is largely open grazing land, and is a favorite deer-hunting ground. Bear, wildcats and deer abound. There are about 50-60 miles of fishing streams. Two state parks--Russian Gulch and Little River--adjoin the area which has high prospective recreation values as the Coast Highway is improved. The federal government has acquired a large area in lower Big River which it has developed and operates as a sample recreation demonstration area. It contains 5,525 acres and is known as Mendocino Woodlands.

AREA: This Purchase Area embraces about 133,000 acres of which about 115,000 acres lie in Big River basin. Including the smaller creeks not in the Big River basin there are approximately 15,000 acres of excellent second growth in the Purchase Area, from which early returns are quite possible.

TAXES: Taxes on the cutover land total about $3,000 all paid up as far as is known at present.

PRINCIPAL OWNERS: These are The Mendocino Lumber Company (36,886 acres including 24,585); Caspar Lumber Company, and the Sage Land and Improvement Company. The area owned by these in not known to the writer. Smaller owners possess small blocks of virgin timber which the operating companies have been buying as their operations have approached them.

SUITABILITY AND DESIRABILITY: In the opinion of the writer the best area for the first state forest in California. As early as 1922, it was considered in part as a possible school forest for the University of California forestry school. It has been well protected for many years, there is much excellent second growth capable of bringing in early returns, there are excellent blocks of virgin timber left on which selective logging is practised. There are some clear-cut areas, now brush covered, which have been heavy reproduction requiring release from the brush competition. The area is particularly well adapted to a large variety of work suited to relief camp needs, work which would increase the productivity in quality and quantity in such amounts as to make the relief labor costs self-liquidating. The writer anticipates no difficulty in arranging precutting agreements with the owners of the remaining virgin timber.

A special report bearing on Big River Basin was prepared in the summer of 1942 by the writer, copy of which is on file with the State Forester.

NOTE: It is probable that the Albion Lumber Company would consider divorcing its property in Albion River from its main body, to be added to this Purchase Area. Its forest conditions are similar to those of Big River, and the added area would total about 18,000 acres, practically all of it cutover.

REDWOOD PURCHASE AREA NO. 4 (Southern Mendocino)

LOCATION: In the southwest corner of Mendocino County and the northwest corner of Sonoma County. It includes the Garcia and Gualala River drainages.

GENERAL CHARACTER: An area little known to travelers except sport fisherman who find the two rivers offering fine steelhead and salmon fishing. The area is well timbered and is unique in that in some parts sugar pine occurs intermingled with redwood. Logging of the past is spotty, having been confined mainly to the Garcia and lower Gualala River. Because of the relatively lighter stands and the past inaccessibility, logging has not been active. With the improvement of the Shoreline Highway the area becomes more accessible. In Garcia River and the lower Gualala are some fine stands of second growth and partially out old growth. Some of the second growth was studied in 1923 for yield table data by the University of California.

A very small amount of logging is being conducted in the area at present.

This is one of the few redwood areas in which there is a considerable area of tax delinquent virgin timberland, the status of which is such that it becomes available for state forest purposes.

AREA: This Purchase Area embraces roughly l68,320 acres.

TAXES: As indicated above taxes on some of the virgin timber is delinquent. Amount of taxes on the cutover portions is unknown to the writer but probably is less than $1,000 per year.

PRINCIPAL OWNERS: The former Wheeler Estate and the American Redwood Company (Long heirs).

SUITABILITY AND DESIRABILITY: Principal factors to be considered here are the following: large area of virgin timber tax delinquent; area of cutover land largely reforested naturally; proximity to Bay region and Santa Rosa valley markets when the Shoreline Highway is completed; and the low costs likely involved in purchases.

REDWOOD PURCHASE AREA No. 5 (Santa Cruz Mountains)

GENERAL NOTE: This area as mapped includes what has been previously offered to the State as the Loma Prieta State Forest. It is listed here because of past activities to create from it state forest. However, the writer believes before this area is acted upon by the State Board of Forestry further investigations in the Santa Cruz Mountain region should be made. The Loma Prieta area as formerly proposed (a brochure by the owners, published in about 1937, is on file in the State Forester's office) is in large part a chaparral area, important mainly for recreation and for watershed protection. The California Forest Experiment Station in its report on the Vegetation Types and Forest Conditions in the Santa Cruz Mountains by E. A. Jensen (Forest Survey Release No. 1, 1939) includes some data on the area, and timber of this unit, and this publication should be consulted. Included in the Loma Prieta area is Mt. Madonna County Park lying over the crest of the ridge between Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Of its area of about 94,500 acres, about 22,000 acres was once timbered. The productive capacity of the area is not high except along the lower slopes.

It is recommended that a more thorough survey be made of the Santa Cruz Mountain region for the purpose of ascertaining which cutover area meets the stated state forest proposes most adequately. Included in the survey party should be Mr. Robert E. Burton of the Santa Cruz High School, and who knows the region thoroughly. Timber production for future harvesting rather than for park purposes is the principal objective of state forests. In this region, recreation is a large and growing factor. It is not improbable that on the former redwood areas, the highest use will be found to be recreation, summer home and week-end camp sites, public park and camp areas rather than commercial timber growing. The region is already famous because of its Big Basin State Redwood Park, Islam Shrine Park, and Santa Cruz Big Trees Park, all still in a virgin condition. Efforts are still being made to create the Butano Creek redwoods into a state park.


Emanuel Fritz

December 13, 1942



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