Help Protect Water Quality on National Forest Lands
About 60 percent of North Coast and Klamath River Basin land is designated as national forests. These public lands were created by Congress from the public domain in the early 1900s. At that time there was great fear of a “timber famine” and the national forests were seen as a hedge against private forest liquidation.
The national forests were also created to secure “favorable conditions of flow” in western rivers and streams. Back in the early 1900s Congress understood that preserving the forest “sponge” was the key to secure water supplies during the West’s annual summer drought.
Today our national forest must comply with several environmental laws including the Clean Water Act (CWA). In California, CWA compliance is the job of Regional Water Boards. The North Coast Water Board is currently working on a new Clean Water Act permit for national forests in the region, which includes the California portion of the Klamath River Basin.
The North Group is working to make sure the new regional CWA national forest permit adequately protects the clean and cool water which our national forests were created to protect. Unfortunately, national forest springs and streams are often fouled by poorly managed private livestock as soon as the water emerges from the earth. Salvage and green tree logging on landslide prone slopes and along streams also degrades water quality and damage the forests’ sponge-like water holding capacity.
If you want to get involved in making sure national forests in our region are managed in a manner that protects water quality and secures “favorable conditions of flow” contact North Group Water Chairperson Felice Pace via e-mail to Unofelice@gmail.com. Include a phone number and times when Felice can reach you by phone.
Help Protect Water Quality on National Forest Lands
For the ninth year, North Group sponsored an award at the annual Humboldt County Science Fair held in mid-March. The projects were so competitive in 2015 that a second prize of $25 was given.
The $50 first-place award went to “The Effect of the Amount of Precipitation in Klamath on the Temperature and pH of the Klamath River” by Allie Sanchez, a 7th-grader at Sunny Brae Middle School and member of the Yurok tribe. Allie’s project questioned whether drought was affecting the temperature and pH of the Klamath River. These two aspects of water quality are important for fish survival. She hypothesized that if decreased precipitation is related to water quality, then samples taken during drought years would have higher temperature and lower pH than those taken in non-drought years.
She collected samples in January at the boat ramp on three dates and compared the results to data from the U.S. Geological Survey on those same dates in non-drought years. She found that average temperature of the Klamath was 12 degrees celsius in 2015 vs. seven to eight degrees celsius in non-drought years, while pH in 2015 was 6.8 vs. 8.4 in non-drought years. Allie noted that because healthy river temperatures for fish are between four and 14 degrees celsius, the summer heat would make the water temperature rise and pH become more acidic—and harmful to salmon.
A $25 second-place prize was awarded to “Using Water Quality to Identify Pollution in Four North Coast Creeks” by Camden Nichols, a 6th-grader at Jacoby Creek School. Camden hypothesized that creeks or rivers close to a mill, factory, or pasture would have the most pollution. She took two rounds of samples during January in Jacoby Creek, Janes Creek, Widow White Creek, and Little River. After a rain, turbidity increased between two- and seven-fold in the water bodies. Temperature and pH did not vary significantly between the four streams.
The North Group offers the following hikes in September. All our hikes are open to the public. Contact hike leaders for more information:
Sunday, June 7—North Group Titlow Hill 5’n’10 Six Rivers National Forest Hike. From Forest Road 1 we will hike to Road 5N10 on an old logging spur, then counterclockwise across Enquist Creek back to Road 1. We can then hike south to Cold Spring and return. Experience a wide range of landscapes. Bring lunch, and protection from the sun or other mountain weather. Moderate difficulty, 6.5 miles, less than 1,000 feet elevation loss/gain. Carpools: meet 9 a.m. Ray’s market in Valley West. Leader Ned, firstname.lastname@example.org, 825-3652. Heavy rain cancels.
Sunday, July 12—North Group Lassics Botanical Area Six Rivers National Forest Hike. Join us for a scenic hike in this natural wonderland off Highway 36. See vernal pools, stark serpentine and peridotite barrens, and vegetation with character. Come take a long look at our vast North Coast backcountry. We will ascend distinctive Black Lassic and explore other nearby features. Bring lunch and extra water, and dress for the weather. Moderate difficulty, 6 miles, less than 1,000 feet elevation gain. Carpools: meet 8 a.m. Herrick Ave. Park’n’Ride in Eureka. By reservation only. Leader Ned, email@example.com, 825-3652. Bad weather cancels.
Wednesday, June 17—North Group Prairie Creek State Park Friendship Ridge Hike. Loop includes old-growth forest, flowers, views, waterfalls, and likely elk. Some steep, rough, or soggy places. Bring food, water, hiking footwear. No dogs. Class M-8-A. Carpools 9 a.m. Valley West (Ray’s) Shopping Center, 10:30, a.m. Fern Canyon Trailhead (exit Hwy 101 at Davison Rd.) Leader Melinda 707-668-4275. Steady rain or gusting winds cancel.
Tuesday, July 14—North Group Del Norte Redwoods State Park Last Chance Coastal Trail. Join us for this easygoing ramble through lush old-growth upon a stretch of Redwood Highway replaced in the 1930’s by the present 101 route, itself soon to be abandoned for more stable inland terrain. As our way approaches coastal bluffs, we may glimpse waters below while we pause before returning as we came. Bring water and lunch. No dogs. Class M-8-A. Carpools 9 a.m. Valley West (Ray’s) Shopping Center, 10:30 a.m. Damnation Creek Trail Head (3.3 mi. north of Wilson Creek bridge, west side Hwy 101) leader Melinda 707-668-4275. Steady rain or strong winds cancel.