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Field Tour 2017 Schedule

California Forest Soils Council

September 7-9, 2017

Swanton, California: great diversity in a small area

Meeting Agenda

(register here)

Thursday (09/07) late afternoon-evening: arrive at Swanton Pacific Ranch (SPR)

  • meet at the yurts (map & directions attached); site orientation & protocols (The house at the site, called the “Staub house”, is the private residence of Ranch interns; we must respect that.)
  • set up tent if that’s your choice
  • socialize & informal meeting orientation

Friday (09/08) morning 0700-0745: continental breakfast (Al Smith house*)

  • possible point to ponder: Why are English muffins often served at continental breakfasts?
  • clean up

Friday morning 0800–1100: presentations (Al Smith house)

  • Welcomes, introductions, announcements—CFSC, SPR, Big Creek (15 min)
  • SPR: what it is, history, mission, activities (Dr. Brian Dietterick, director–20 min)
  • forest uses & management (Mr. Steve Auten, forester–20 min)
  • break (15 min.)
  • the geologic & geomorphic setting (Dr. Roberta Smith, geologist–20 min)
  • landscape stability (Ron Taskey, Roberta Smith, Steve Auten–20 min)
  • local ecosystems & land-use history (Mr. Jim West, botanist–20 min)
  • break (10 min.)
  • geology-soil-plant associations (Dr. Ron Taskey, soil scientist–20 min)
  • student-SPR connections: student perspectives (10 min)

Friday prenoonish-postnoonish: field & lunch

  • Scott Ck flood plain sediments, soils, ground water (Dr. Bwalya Malama, Mr. Devin Pritchard-Peterson, Dr. Ron Taskey, Mr. Phil Smith)
  • other interesting attractions: organic farm, steelhead and salmon monitoring

Friday afternoon, 1400-1600: private-forest management, Big Creek Lumber Co.

  • opportunities & challenges (Janet Webb, President, Big Creek Lumber Co.)
  • one-year-old timber harvest site

Friday evening, 1700: presentation (Al Smith house*)

  • local land-use history—from those who know (Lud McCrary, cofounder Big Creek Lumber Co.) Friday evening, bbq (Al Smith pavillion)
  • BBQ on our own among the redwoods with ocean view and fine company.

Saturday (09/09) morning, 0645-0730: continental breakfast (Al Smith pavillion)

Saturday (09/09) morning, 0730-1300(?): walking field tour Little Creek watershed (assemble at yurts–Staub house; bring lunch, water, etc.)

NOTE: Because of road failures we must walk the entire route. Distance 3 ½ – 4 miles, mostly down-hill along an easy fun-to-walk trail and gravel road. (If we make good time, we’ll have the option of an interesting side trip along the way.) CAUTION: poison oak

  • contrasts close-up: geology (Miocene sedimentary/Cretaceous granitic), soils (forested Mollisols), hydrology, ecosystems, forest management opportunites and challenges (ALL)
  • some landforms and soils are stable, others are not (ALL)

Saturday lunch, CFSC business mtng (location tba)

  • Agenda tba

Saturday afternoon (~ 1330-1700): field tour–marine terraces along Hwy 1

  • marine terrace development, morphology, & USGS research (Dr. Jorie Schulz, USGS geologist)
  • historic ecosystems & land uses (Mr. Jim West)
  • livestock program (Mr. Gordon Claassen, cowboy gentleman)
  • terrace soils (Phil Smith, Ron Taskey)
  • adjourn, see you next year!

Location subject to change: if many more than 25 people, we will meet down the hill at Little Ck house. (Note: The Al Smith site comprises the main house, pavilion, and class room.)

2017 Summer Field Tour – save the date

 CFSC 2017 Summer Field Tour:

Swanton Pacific Ranch, in Santa Cruz County

September 7-9, 2017

Register here!

Yep, it’s a bit of a departure to have our summer tour so late in the season, but such a fantastic, central location will be worth it!

Swanton Pacific Ranch is a component of the Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, natural resources and environmental sciences program, and is a great research facility, near gorgeous beaches and forests.

Stay tuned for info about topics, site visits, and speakers. And, of course, send any questions to!

Soils are us!!

Here’s a great story about one of our soil buddies published in the Alliance of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Science Societies’ digital library.

Embracing Soil Complexity while Communicating it Simply: A Day in the Life of Phil Small

by Madeline Fisher

As an art major at the University of California–Davis, consulting soil scientist Phil Small says he always dug clay much more than the ceramics made with it. But it was a summer job on a farm that really sparked his interest in soil. After graduating with a B.S. in soil and water science in 1977, Small worked as a soil scientist for many West Coast companies and organizations, including the Yakama Indian Nation and Agrimanagement, Inc., before founding his own company, Land Profile, in 1992. Now based in Spokane, WA, Small recently spoke with Soil Horizons about what he’s learned during his long career, as well as his latest fascination: biochar.

Read on…


Beaver Believer

Some of our members are firm believers in these critters as ecosystem engineers. This recent article and study provides good overview at new data on historical range of beavers in CA and ecological restoration benefits. If you get really jazzed about this, look for the group and support their endeavors by donating to their Kickstarter campaign. The recent article in Bay Nature Magazine is located here: