How to Enjoy and Foster Our Forest

This text was produced by Joan Zimmerman as an independent study project for the Redwoods class (History 26F instructed by Sandy Lydon) at Cabrillo College, Spring, 2001. Great thanks for advice and assistance from:

Where is the Soquel ('so-KELL') Demonstration State Forest?

SDSF (the Soquel Demonstration State Forest) is in the Santa Cruz Mountains, north of the Nisene Marks State Park, and near the coast of Central California. It's south of San Francisco and San Jose; and it's north of Santa Cruz and Soquel.

What is SDSF?

SDSF is 2681 acres of temperate forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains. This Forest contains redwood, mixed-evergreen, riparian, and chaparral ecosystems.

Soquel Forest is in Santa Cruz County, near the central Californian coast. It is the only Demonstration State Forest close to large urban areas. The San Jose metropolis is 18 air miles north. The San Francisco and Oakland metropolitan areas are further north, within a 2-hour drive. Monterey Bay is south. The city of Santa Cruz is 8 miles southwest.

The East Branch of Soquel Creek and its tributary Amaya Creek run through the Forest. This area is geologically active, cut by the San Andreas and the Zayante Faults. The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake epicenter is two miles to the south.

The Forest was acquired by the State of California as part of a debt-for-nature swap between Bank of America and the State of California. Dedicated in 1990, SDSF is the newest of eight Demonstration State Forests in California. SDSF protects and enhances the natural and cultural resources. It restores and maintains the forest and watershed. It protects vegetation, soil, wildlife, fisheries, and the headwaters of Soquel Creek. At the same time, it provides recreation opportunities to the public.

What is a DEMONSTRATION Forest?

A Demonstration Forest is timberland that is managed for forestry education, research, and recreation. It demonstrates innovations in forest management, watershed protection and restoration, and environmentally sensitive timber harvesting techniques. Notice that a Demonstration State Forest is not a State Park.

Such a Forest demonstrates good forestland stewardship. This includes management for a sustainable timber production. At the same time, the Forest is open to the public at no charge.

Demonstration Forest timberlands are publicly owned by the State of California. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) manage them. As a group, they are financially self-sustaining due to the value of timber harvests.


From Santa Cruz

North on H-17. East (right) for 10 miles on Summit Road (renamed as Highland Way after 4 miles). Danger: winding road. Look for '2.1' mile marker. Park just beyond, on right by steel bridge and small green sign for Soquel Forest.

From San Jose

South on Highway 17. East at Summit Road (right-hand exit then right-turn over the overpass). Then as for Santa Cruz.

From San Francisco

South on I-280 to H-17. Then as for San Jose.

From Oakland

South on I-880 to H-17. Then as for San Jose.

Alternate from Santa Cruz

'South' on H-1 to Soquel. North on Soquel-San Jose Road. East (right) for 6 miles on Highland Way.

The Five Facets of Forestry Stewardship

Spirit of the Forest.

Soquel Forest gives opportunities for recreation, and for experiencing the beauty and splendor of the Forest. Those who take joy in exploring the Forest include mountain bikers, hikers, equestrians, picnickers, bird watchers, photographers, environmentalists, and students.

Resources and Ecological Processes.

Soquel Forest is in a mountainous region. It is in the Santa Cruz Mountains, primarily within the drainage basin of the East Branch of Soquel Creek, in the San Andreas Rift Zone. Its main ecological communities are: coast redwood forest; mixed evergreen forest, chaparral, and riparian (riverbank).

Forest History.

The first inhabitants were the Ohlone people. In 1844, the 32,000-acre Soquel Augmentation Rancho was awarded to Martina Castro as a Mexican land grant. In 1863, F.A. Hihn acquired the land. He started timber harvesting of old-growth redwoods. After Hihn's death in 1913, his heirs made limited harvests of old-growth redwoods and tanoaks. From 1926 to 1942, Monterey Bay Redwood Company harvested 100 million board-feet of old-growth redwood. From 1942 to 1990, CHY Company and then Pelican Timber Company performed limited timber harvests. SDSF was dedicated on July 13, 1990, becoming the 8th state-owned Demonstration Forest.

Forest management of watersheds, fisheries, and timber.

A well-managed healthy Forest sustains and may improve air and water quality, and the fish, plants, and wildlife. At the same time it provides opportunities for recreation. Such a forest is beautiful, a delight to be in.

In 1947, the state of California saw a decline in old-growth trees and inadequate management of second-growth trees. It established a plan for state-owned 'demonstration' forests to demonstrate good forestland stewardship. This plan promotes forest and watershed health, while generating revenue. SDSF is zoned for timber production. SDSF's goal is to harvest timber eventually at a rate that is:
This place is a star Approximately one-third to one-half of (i.e., well below) the rate at which timber grows.
This place is a star Sufficient to pay for the State's costs in managing this Forest.

Regional connections.

SDSF works with its neighbors to make the region safer and more beautiful. It protects the Soquel watershed. Thereby it increases the viability of the state-protected steelhead trout, and improves the quality of water available to neighbors downstream. SDSF continually improves techniques to prevent and contain forest fire.

Spirit of the Forest

What is 'The Spirit of the Forest?'

The Spirit of the Forest is what you experience when you pay attention to the Forest. Listen. Watch. Feel with your fingers, your toes, your spine. This is a sanctuary from the busy rush of city life.

It's in the wood-scented air you breathe. It's in the glitter and chatter of the river and streams. It's in the wind moving 200 feet overhead through redwood leaves.

Picnic Areas available for Day Use

  1. Badger Springs. 4.7 miles west on Hihn's Mill Road from Highland Gate. In alluvial flats of East Branch of Soquel Creek. A mellow site in a lush riparian environment, near old-growth redwoods.

  2. Sulphur Springs. 2.3 miles west on Hihn's Mill Road from Highland Gate.

  3. Ridge Trail. Between Sulphur Springs Trail and Tractor Trail. About 5 miles from Highland Gate. The most gorgeous panoramic view in the Santa Cruz Mountains from a Forest picnic table in the redwoods. Well worth the pain of the 1000-foot ascent from Hihn's Mill Road.

    Also a mile to the east on Ridge Trail, a welcoming seat in memory of Jim Owen gives a delightful view and a delicious rest for the weary.

Trails and Roads.

No motorized vehicles permitted.

Resources and Ecological Processes

What are the Resources and Ecological Processes of the Forest?

The geography, geology, and climate of the Forest support several different ecological communities, as described below.

Geography, Earthquakes, and Other Geologic Activity

Soquel Forest covers 21% of the drainage basin of the East Branch of Soquel Creek. Almost all of the Forest is located within that drainage basin. The East Branch follows the San Andreas Rift Zone. Earthquake activity has triggered many landslides here.

The active San Andreas and Zayante faults pass through the Forest. The epicenter of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake is 2 miles south of the Forest's southern boundary.

Many hillsides are steep and prone to large, deep-seated landslides. The steep terrain throughout the Forest results from earthquakes, fires, and severe rainstorms.

The lowest point of the Forest is 500 feet. It is in the southwest. The highest is 2531 feet. It is in the southeast.

Rocks and Soils

Most of the underlying rocks are sedimentary: mudstone, siltstone, shale, and fine-grained and coarse-grained sandstone. They are easily eroded. Harder schist and granitic rock outcrop occasionally.

The Forest's soils result primarily from the weathering of the underlying sedimentary rocks. Most of the soils are deep and well-drained.

Coast Redwood Forest Community

Soquel Forest is in the southern end of the range of the coast redwood. Here, redwood communities develop in moist canyon slopes and riverbank zones. They occupy 45% of Soquel Forest.

The redwood tree is the tallest in the world. In ideal conditions, it can grow over 340 feet. The tallest known redwood is over 380 feet (in Humbolt County). The tallest in Soquel Forest is over 200 feet.

Small groves of protected old-growth redwoods occur at Badger Springs (a 3-acre stand) and at Sulphur Springs. Individual old-growth trees are scattered through the Forest. It is estimated that there are over 500 old-growth redwoods. Most redwoods are second-growth, as most of the Forest was harvested in the 1930's.

While the coast redwood is the dominant tree, other common trees are the tanoak, Douglas-firs (Pseudotsuga menziesii), and madrone. The under-story includes redwood sorrel, California Hazel, wild ginger, and western sword fern.

Birds and small mammals find nesting habitat, cover, and food here. Common residents are pygmy nuthatch, Steller's jay, and Trowbridge's shrew.

Mixed Evergreen Forest Community

A mixed evergreen forest contains a combination of conifer and hardwood trees that do not drop their leaves in the fall. Such communities thrive on the drier slopes above, and overlapping, the redwood communities. They occupy 45% of Soquel Forest.

They are dominated by tanoak and Douglas-firs (Pseudotsuga menziesii). Madrone and California bay are common. The under-story includes California blackberry, vetch, toyon, and yerba buena. Poison oak is very common and painful. It ranges from a small sprout to a huge vine.

Wildlife makes great use of tanoak trees in these areas. The trees provide nesting and roosting sites. Their acorns are a food source. Residents include Merriam's chipmunk, dusky-footed woodrat, western grey squirrel, Californian slender salamander, acorn woodpecker, sharp-shinned hawk, and screech owl. Digging furrows by feral pigs are common.

Riparian Community

Riparian communities occur in the presence of fresh water. Abundant riparian communities thrive along the floodplain of the East Branch of Soquel Creek and along Amaya Creek. They are 5% of Soquel Forest.

Deciduous hardwoods dominate this community. They include white alder, bigleaf maple, black cottonwood, and California sycamore. Horsetails and nettles are common groundcover along the water edges.

Residents include vireos, warblers, Pacific-slope flycatcher, long-tailed weasel, and raccoon. Pacific newts and brown-colored salamanders (with fiery orange bellies) are abundant. The Pacific tree frog is found. In winter large colonies of ladybug beetles gather along creeks and breed.

Migratory songbirds breed and forage in riparian habitat. Large mammals use this zone for their water supply.

The riparian community is the most productive terrestrial habitat type for wildlife. In that sense, it is the most significant habitat in the Forest.

Chaparral community

Chaparral community exists along the exposed ridge tops and on south-facing slopes at higher elevations. Fire-resistant woody shrubs occur here: manzanita, buck brush, coyote brush, and chamise. They are 3% of Soquel Forest.

Residents include Bewick's wren, California towhee, scrub jay, western fence lizard, and brush rabbit.

Freshwater Marsh Community

At a freshwater marsh, the soil is moist most of the year. In the Forest, the scattered freshwater marsh community includes only Amaya Pond and a few natural springs: Sulphur, Badger, and two small and unnamed springs that resulted from or were increased by the Loma Prieta earthquake. They are less than 1% of Soquel Forest.

Residents include migratory waterfowl, great blue heron, black phoebe, belted kingfisher, and garter snakes.

Grassland Community, Disturbed Areas, and Exotics.

Grassland communities occupy less than 5 acres in SDSF. Some areas are natural, and some result from human disturbance. These communities contain primarily wild oats and annual fescue grasses. Most grassland is being encroached upon by coyote brush, lupine, poison oak, and Douglas-firs (Pseudotsuga menziesii). Grasslands and disturbed areas are less than 1%.

Residents include the gopher snake and the Botta pocket gopher.

Non-native plants ('exotics') occur in disturbed areas, primarily along roads and at picnic areas. The most common species are French broom, periwinkle, pampas grass, and forget-me-not.


Mycorrhizal fungi form a symbiotic relationship with the trees they grow under and enhance the health of SDSF. These fungi grow around the trees' rootlets, where they collect water and trace nutrients that the trees are able to use. Meanwhile the trees provide carbohydrates to the fungi.

Also found are saprophytic fungi (which occur on wood that is already dead) and parasitic fungi (which attack and can kill live trees).

Inventories of flora and fauna

Inventories reported in Sutfin (1998) include these counts of species in SDSF:


The climate is Mediterranean, with cool wet winters and warm dry summers. Winds are from the west and southwest, mild to moderate all year. Stronger winds come with winter storms.

Mean annual precipitation of 44' occurs mostly between November and April. Snow falls above 2000 feet every other year, typically less than 5' total. Average runoff is 1.1 cubic feet per second per square mile. High intensity, long duration winter storms produce extreme levels of runoff, as in January 1982 when runoff flooded the town of Soquel.

Water Resources

The East Branch of the Soquel Creek is a perennial watercourse. The perennial streams of Fern Creek and Amaya Creek feed it from the north. Numerous intermittent and ephemeral streams (that flow mostly in winter) also feed it. The East Branch watershed is 19 square miles (12,240 acres).

Soquel Creek, including the East Branch, supplies domestic water to the local community. It serves as part of the natural groundwater recharge system for residents' wells. Also, it supplies surface water to various intakes along the Creek.

The largest natural springs are Sulphur Springs and Badger Springs. A third natural spring was created east of Sulphur Springs by the 1989 earthquake. Amaya Pond, a half-acre seasonal pool, is in the northwest of the Forest.


SDSF contains 8 miles of fish-bearing streams. Most (5.5 miles) is the East Branch of the Soquel Creek. The rest is Amaya Creek (2 miles) and Fern Gulch Creek (0.5 mile).

The East Branch is a well-known rearing habitat for steelhead trout, one of few spawning and rearing areas remaining in the county. Habitat features attractive to steelhead include cool water temperature, water rich in dissolved oxygen, adequate water depth and pool space, and low sediment level. Coho salmon are not present, but their habitat still exists in the watershed.

The Californian Department of Fish and Game prohibits angling in the East Branch of the Soquel Creek, to protect steelhead trout.

Forest History: People in the Forest

How Have People Lived in Forest?

The Forest was used before recorded history as well as after the arrival of the Europeans. This section summarizes what they did.

Native American Culture

The prehistoric era on the Central Coast began 4000 years ago. The most active times were 1000-1600 A.D. The three prehistoric sites found in SDSF are from this time. The Ohlones (whom the Spanish called Costanoans) used these sites. The sites appear to have been temporary hunting camps, occupied in summer and autumn. Remains suggest that the Ohlones collected and ground acorns, and hunted steelhead trout.

These sites are being studied to evaluate them for future research. Unlike trees, these sites are nonrenewable resources. Please respect and protect this important aspect of our heritage, particularly if they are later available to the public.

Early Euro-American Owners & Users

The historic era on the Central Coast began in 1769. In 1844, the 32,000-acre Soquel Augmentation Rancho was awarded to Martina Castro as a Mexican land grant. In 1863, F.A. Hihn acquired the land. It passed to his heirs in 1913. From 1924 to 1988 successive logging companies owned it. Then it passed to state ownership.

Three sites were used at times between 1850 to the mid-1940's. They were essentially for timber harvesting. In the 1930's, one prehistoric site was occupied and expanded.

These sites are being studied to evaluate them for future research. They may later be available to the public. Again, please respect these sites as nonrenewable resources.

Resort at Sulphur Springs

In the 1870's, F.A. Hihn built the Resort at Sulphur Springs in conjunction with his developments in Capitola of hotel, railroad, and dock. The Resort was popular until the early 1920's. Today nothing remains except a ruined corral beside Corral Trail that held the Resort's livestock.

SDSF Acquisition History.

On March 7, 1988, State Controller Gray Davis and the Bank of America settled a lawsuit over unclaimed bank accounts. The property that is now SDSF was acquired by California as past of that settlement. Initially, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) volunteered to manage the properties. On April 18, 1990, TNC transferred management to CDF. The dedication ceremony for the SDSF was held on July 13, 1990.

Historical Logging Practices

In 1863, F.A. Hihn acquired the area. He logged old-growth redwood along Amaya Creek and along his private Sulphur Springs Road. After his death in 1913, his heirs made limited removal of old-growth redwood and tanoak.

In 1924, the Monterey Bay Redwood Company (MBRC) bought the property. From 1926 to 1942, MBRC harvested 100 million board feet of old-growth redwood. That is equivalent to 6 million board feet/year. From 1942 to 1990, CHY Company and then Pelican Timber Company performed limited timber harvests.

Different methods were used to 'yard' the logs. (To 'yard' is to move them from the cutting area to a collection point.) At first, from 1870-1895, oxen removed timber. From 1895-1930, removal was by steam donkeys (portable engines, originally powered by steam), which drove 'ground lead cable systems.'

In the 1930's, yarding began to be done by tractor. Logs were taken on trailers towed by crawler tractors to the millpond south of Olive Springs (southwest of the Forest). Then they were transferred to the mill by log trucks.

After World War II, clear cutting was replaced by selective harvesting. From 1961 to 1979, CHY Company owned the Forest and did little harvesting. From 1979 to 1988, Pelican Timber Company owned it and also did not harvest much. In the 10 years leading to 1995, second-growth harvesting occurred over 790 acres. Cable yarding and tractor logging moved the logs.

Under State ownership, SDSF's first harvest was in 1995, which removed 0.5 million board feet. The second harvest in 1998 removed 1.5 million board feet.

Forest Management of Watersheds, Fisheries, and Timber

What is Modern Forest Management?

The Forest was used before recorded history. After the arrival of the Europeans, commercial timber harvesting began about 1863.

SDSF is zoned for timber production. Such land is devoted to growing and harvesting timber, as well as compatible activities. Those activities include watershed management, fish & wildlife habitat management, outdoor education, and recreation. Forest Management balances these diverse aspects.

Watershed Management: Erosion and Storm Water Control

The East Branch of Soquel Creek watershed is a highly sensitive basin. Intense and frequent rains cause the hill slopes to be instable. So do seismic activity, steep slopes, and easily eroded bedrock.

The aquatic environment is sensitive to further degradation. Timber operations must be performed with great caution, to avoid degrading beneficial uses of the basin.

Before the modern California Forest Practice Rules, past forest management significantly eroded the basin. Sediment and debris entered the rivers. SDSF is developing a program to monitor watershed conditions. This includes measuring active landslides and surface erosion potential.

Fine sediment continues to move downstream and fill pools. Excessive removal of water down-river compounds the problem in low-flow summer months. SDSF monitors sedimentation levels at a minimum of four pools.

SDSF maintains proper drainage along roads and trails. It repairs culverts and water bars to reduce or prevent soil erosion. 'Trash racks' (usually vertical metal bars) are placed in culverts to catch debris before it enters a river.

As part of the on-going watershed assessment, a Timber Operations History records data on all timber-related operations. It includes road construction, harvesting locations and dates, site preparation techniques, and the harvesting systems used.

SDSF evaluates each remediation project, to determine its success in reducing large-scale sedimentation. Projects are modified as needed.

Fisheries Management

The steelhead trout is a protected species in California. Since 1982, angling has been illegal in the East Branch of Soquel Creek. Patrols apprehend poachers. SDSF intends to demonstrate that forest management is compatible with the maintenance of healthy fisheries and habitats.

SDSF maintains and improves the fish habitat for the steelhead trout in the East Branch of Soquel Creek. During all forestry activities, stream channels, stream banks, and riparian zones are protected. All fish-bearing streams are designated as 'late-succession' areas. Such areas get specialized management to enhance the river zone and the fisheries resources. SDSF protects the stream channel, the bank integrity, and the vegetation.

The fisheries potential will be increased, by improving conditions for rearing and spawning. This can be done by sediment reduction, barrier removal, and pool creation.

Timber Management: (1) Objectives

Forest Management provides the proper care to the Forest. A management plan is developed and executed. Then the Forest remains healthy and vigorous and provides the products and amenities desired.

SDSF's timber management and harvest program conducts demonstrations, education, and research in forest management. The timber will be harvested on a sustained-yield basis.

Sustained yield is the yield of commercial wood that an area can produce continuously, consistent with environmental protection. It is planned as a balance between growth and harvest.

Initially for Soquel Forest, only a third of the growth will be harvested. Over time, as operating costs increase, the harvest level may increase to 50% of growth.

Timber Management: (2) Timber harvesting techniques

Every two years SDSF staff prepares a plan for timber sale. The plan specifies the area and volume to be harvested. It limits the logging and forestry methods to be used. Also, it defines the measures necessary to lessen environmental damage during harvest and to restore the environment afterwards.

The terrain where the logging occurs determines what harvesting technique is used. The main options are ground skidding, cable logging, and aerial harvest.

Ground skidding logging systems tow logs on the ground to the landings (loading areas). Generally, tractor and rubber-tire skidders are used where the average slope is less than 35%. Another system, though rarely used except for demonstration purposes, is horse logging. This minimizes soil disturbance and residual damage to trees remaining in a dense stand. It is limited to gentle slopes and moderate-sized trees.

Cable logging systems use cables to partially suspend the logs off the ground while transporting them to a landing. The cables are attached to a 'yarder,' which is a machine equipped with winches and a tower for pulling the cables. Generally, cable yarding is used on a steep slope, near drainage, or where it would be difficult to construct a road.

Aerial harvest systems use helicopters and balloons to move logs from one area to another. In SDSF these methods will be used only for demonstration purposes or where cable yarding is not possible.

Timber Industry Management: (3) How Big Is A Tree?

Visitors often wonder how big the trees are and how much wood is in them.

The main measure of the size of a tree is the tree trunk diameter, measured at a height above the flare for the roots. The usual measure is the diameter at breast height. This is the diameter of the tree four-and-a-half feet above ground on the uphill side of the tree.

Informally, it can be measured with a flexible measuring tape (e.g. cloth or steel). The height and the volume of the tree can then be looked up in data tables.

When a forester needs to measure the height of a tree, she uses an instrument designed specifically for tree height measurements. One such instrument is called the 'clinometer.'

In the USA, the volume of lumber is measured by the board foot. This is defined as a piece of wood containing 144 cubic inches. Visualize it as a board 12 inches square and one inch thick (12" x 12" x 1" = 144 cubic inches). Any piece of wood containing 144 cubic inches is a board foot, e.g., 2" x 4" x 18". Its shape does not matter.

Next, one can determine the board foot volume of a tree. This expresses the number of board feet of lumber that can be cut from that tree. The lumber volume that can be cut depends on how the tree is cut into logs, and the dimensions of the lumber. It also depends on how much of the log is lost in sawdust and waste, and the efficiency of the sawmill and workers, and so on. Therefore, the volume of a tree can only be estimated.

A young redwood can grow as fast as 1 foot to 4 feet per year, if it sprouts from a strong root system. This happens after a parent tree dies, especially by harvesting. A young tree grows upward as rapidly as possible. It 'races' to ensure that it has a strong share of sunlight. If successful, it dominates over competing trees. Then (like a middle-aged human) it begins to put on a lot of mass around its butt.

Stocking level is the volume of merchantable timber per unit of land. Typically this is measured in thousands of board feet per acre. In Soquel Forest, an average value is 30 thousand board feet per acre. The average growth rate is 1 thousand board feet per acre, with small variation for the ages of the trees.

The largest redwoods tend to be old-growth trees. They have thick bark and rounded crowns. In SDSF they are 4 to 6 feet in diameter.

Second-growth trees have re-grown from rootstock after harvesting of the parent trees. Historically, harvesting was by clear cutting. Clear cutting is the removal of all trees and virtually every living thing from an area. It obliterates the existing ecosystem. Clear cutting is illegal in Santa Cruz County.

Timber Industry Management: (4) Timber Production Mathematics

SDSF is allowed to take harvests whose value covers the costs of maintenance and operation, reasonable capital costs, watershed protection and monitoring, and demonstration of compatible land uses. All harvests must not exceed long-term sustained yield.

Timber income is in stumpage fees. In the Santa Cruz area, such fees varied between $0.1 and $1.2 per board-foot in the last quarter of the 20th century, but fell significantly in 2001.

For illustration only, suppose the stumpage fee for redwoods is $0.6 per board foot. Then, to meet $100,000 of SDSF expenses, 167,000 board feet must be harvested. If each harvested tree yields on average 500 board feet, then 334 trees must be harvested.

Regional Connections

What are Regional Connections?

Soquel Forest, as California's Demonstration Forest closest to areas of dense population, is on the forefront of discovering and demonstrating the balance between competing desires and practices. SDSF investigates such questions as 'how do we develop sustainable communities?' and 'what practices promote watershed health?'

SDSF protects and heals the Soquel watershed. Thereby it not only increases the viability of the state-protected steelhead trout. It also improves the quality of water available to neighbors downstream. SDSF is also committed to prevent and contain forest fire. It is collaborates with the neighbors of the Forest, to make the region a safer and more beautiful area.

Complementary and Competing Land Uses

Many uses are made of the lands of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Initially they were a source of food and shelter to the Ohlones. Europeans used the timber from their forests to provide shelter. Harvesting continues on private lands as well as in State Forests. Gravel quarrying occurs in the mountains just south of Soquel Forest.

Sulphur Springs Resort developed as a health retreat. The lands around Soquel Forest contain many camps belonging to different interest groups, where their members may enjoy nature.

The well being of Soquel Forest affects its neighbors. Most obviously, the watershed provides water for many living downstream.

More subtly, the Forest moderates the climate. It shades the ground so that the forest floor is cooler and has a chance to retain moisture in the long dry summer. Coastal fog condenses on the redwood needles, forming a fog drip even in summer. The photosynthesis of the forest absorbs carbon dioxide and omits oxygen.

Urban and suburban developments compete with public open space for land. After the sale of a 1-acre parcel of land for a new home, many or perhaps all of the native trees will be cut down. The house is built, a new driveway and perhaps a new road is built. A septic tank is installed. If the equivalent of an acre is cleared, that means on between 30 and 100 thousand board feet are harvested.

Furthermore, the cleared forest does not continue to produce timber and other forest benefits. We lose the additional production of 1 thousand board feet per year. The watershed is less protected: that acre is largely lost for watershed infiltration.

Fire Protection

To minimize the risk of fire, smoking and fires are not permitted anywhere in Soquel Forest. This includes parking areas. Hunting and shooting are prohibited. Special care should be taken in the driest part of the year, July through October.

In the 50 years from 1929 to 1979, the Santa Cruz Mountains experiences five forest fires. They burned from 54 to 240 acres. Four occurred from 1933 to 1938 and were probably caused by accidents related to logging processes with old equipment.

To help minimize fire spread, a system of shaded fuel breaks is being developed in Soquel Forest. A shaded fuel break is a strip of land 100 to 300 feet wide, where vegetation has been reduced to decrease the spread of a fire. Dead trees, shrubs, and lower tree limbs are removed.


Books and Reports:

World Wide Web (WWW) URL addresses.

Remember that WWW addresses change at the fall of a raindrop. If these addresses don't work, use a powerful search engine (e.g., Google) to track down what you need.

California State Forest Offices:

Groups to Contact:

See also these pages