We hope you have enjoyed the SRGC Forum. You can make a Paypal donation to the SRGC by clicking the above button

Author Topic: Robert's Crystal Range Project - Year 3, 2021  (Read 8639 times)

Robert

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4452
  • Country: us
  • All text and photos © Robert Barnard
Re: Robert's Crystal Range Project - Year 3, 2021
« Reply #90 on: August 22, 2021, 12:19:36 AM »
An update on the local Caldor Fire:

During the initial phase of the Caldor Fire, the fire just exploded from a small event into an inferno, and the small community of Grizzly Flat burned to the ground. A friend of mine shared a video with me of the community after a few residents were allowed to return. Only two or three structures remained. All the other structures burned to the ground including the fire department. In this forested community, most of the standing trees were burned and blackened, with a few still burning. The power lines were burned to the ground and the road surface was littered with debris.

Despite the steep terrain and heavy timber, with many drought stressed, dead, and dying trees, the fire did not spread as much as we knew it could over the last few days; however last evening the winds increased in velocity. Wind direction has been highly variable, leading to many evacuations in all directions. Spotting and rollout continue to expand the fire’s perimeter. Strong winds are forecasted for the fire area today, 21 August. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of homes are still threatened by the fire. Many nearby communities have been evacuated. Depending on how the fire reacts to the wind today, many more homes may be lost and additional evacuation orders given.

Many of the plant communities I have reported on over the years have been burned over by the fire and additional locations are threatened. It is unknown how these ecosystems will respond in the aftermath of the fire.



This chart illustrates the changing precipitation pattern in our region from 1999 to 2021. This time period has been the driest in our region in perhaps 1,000 years. Even during this extremely dry period precipitation continues to decline.



The temperature trend is not encouraging either. After a pause, temperatures are beginning to increase. The July 2020 thru June 2021 time period was the second warmest since record keeping started at our El Dorado County property over 38 years ago. The 34-year average is 0.4 C above the baseline temperature. During the 2014-2015 season the average temperature exceeded the 1.5 C threshold.



It is easy to see how the smoke impacts the amount of solar radiation reaching the surface. This observation site is located very close the more active portion of the Caldor Fire. I will not be surprised if the site is lost due to the fire.



Our El Dorado County property is currently out of the mandatory and potential evacuation zones. Here the smoke is impacting the amount of solar radiation reaching the ground. The cooling temperatures are due, partly, to a change in the synoptic weather pattern, however the impact of the dense smoke on the amount of solar radiation reaching the surface is also impacting daytime temperatures.

This wildfire is very “close to home” in many ways. We are watching conditions closely and hoping for the best. How the fire reacts to the winds today will likely determine the ultimate destructiveness of the fire.

The Caldor Fire is severely impacting a large portion of the watershed of El Dorado Irrigation District, the provider of drinking water and agricultural water for most of El Dorado County. The fire’s impact on ecosystems in this region will need to be evaluated over time. The fire and climate change will be large factors in determining the new state of ecosystem equilibrium in this area.

I will post more as time permits.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2021, 02:50:27 AM by Robert »
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

cohan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3401
  • Country: ca
  • forest gnome
Re: Robert's Crystal Range Project - Year 3, 2021
« Reply #91 on: August 24, 2021, 06:36:36 AM »
Sounds very stressful :(

Robert

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4452
  • Country: us
  • All text and photos © Robert Barnard
Re: Robert's Crystal Range Project - Year 3, 2021
« Reply #92 on: August 28, 2021, 07:40:17 PM »


A quick update on the status of the Caldor Fire in El Dorado County, California.

The Caldor Fire continues to burn in El Dorado County, California. Based on information gleaned from satellite images and information provided by Calfire, at least 25% of Eldorado National Forest has burned to date. The total area burned in El Dorado County is approaching 25% of the total land area of the county! Reliable information provided by the news media is problematic. The above 3.9 µm satellite image shows the current hotspots (dark – black areas in satellite image) where the fire is burning intensely.


Currently, our El Dorado County property is relatively safe. I have spent time working on additional fire safety measures on the property. Thick choking smoke is an issue at times, especially over the last few days. Air quality is frequently off the charts beyond the extremely unhealthy range, as you can see in the satellite image below.



This satellite image shows how extensive the smoke is in our region. Even in Sacramento, the smoke has been intense at time. Smoke from both the Dixie Fire, which continues to burn, and the Caldor Fire settles into the Sacramento Valley. Very little smoke mixes out of our area, as winds have been light over the last few days. Winds are forecasted to increase out of the SW. This is good for our air quality in Sacramento, however the SW winds present challenges to the fire fighters. With increasing wind speeds the Caldor Fire may, again, begin to spread rapidly.

The damage to habitat will take months (perhaps years) to assess. Many of the sites that I visit frequently and have enjoyed for a lifetime are located within the burn area. It is likely to be months before it will be safe to travel into these areas due road damage and the potential danger from falling trees that burned during the fire.

I will report more as I can.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

cohan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3401
  • Country: ca
  • forest gnome
Re: Robert's Crystal Range Project - Year 3, 2021
« Reply #93 on: September 09, 2021, 02:57:50 PM »
I hope you get some relief from the fire risk and smoke-- must be stressful having that so close by... we've been smoke-free for weeks now, but the weeks we had were yucky enough, even longer would not be fun!

Robert

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4452
  • Country: us
  • All text and photos © Robert Barnard
Re: Robert's Crystal Range Project - Year 3, 2021
« Reply #94 on: September 22, 2021, 07:38:10 PM »
Due to the Caldor Fire, Eldorado National Forest is closed. Currently the earliest date the forest may reopen is 30 September. This is not a firm date. Many of the sites I frequently visit have been severely impacted by the fire. It may be many months before I can revisit these sites and begin evaluating the impacts to the flora and ecosystems. The Caldor Fire burn area has impacted approximated 33% of the total land area of Eldorado National Forest. This is just one of many ongoing ecological disasters that are taking place in our part of Northern California. The following are excerpts from an essay I am writing concerning our present climatic patterns and the impacts these changes are having on our region.


The impacts of climate change and ENSO in our portion of Northern California are worth noting. Since the late 1890’s ~ 70% of the recorded El Niño events have brought above average precipitation to our region. With La Niña events seasonal precipitation amounts have been mixed; ~ 50% wet, ~ 50% dry. This analysis did not differentiate the El Niño- La Niña events based on their magnitude.

Of greater concern in our region is the consistent decline of yearly precipitation since the 1870’s. Since the 1870’s our average annual precipitation has declined more than 20%. Since 1980 the decline in precipitation has been 8.69%. There is strong paleo-climatic evidence that California experienced two periods of drought each lasting ~ 100 years during the Medieval Warm period. Since 2000, our region of Northern California has entered a period of extended drought that is still ongoing. Of the 21 precipitation seasons beginning in 2000, only 5 seasons have had above average precipitation. Excluding the wet seasons, our region has experienced 76% of average precipitation since 2000. The question is, have we reached a climatic threshold/tipping point where new climatic patterns will become the new normal.

Increasing temperatures are also a concern. The July 2020 – June 2021 time period was the second warmest in the last 40 years (since my record keeping began). As of today, 22 September, temperatures are running 1.651 C above the beginning baseline temperature (a very conservative number). In the Sierra Nevada Mountains temperatures are 1.702 C above the respective baseline temperature.

All of these climatic shifts are having a strong impact on managed (agriculture, gardening, etc.) and unmanaged (wild ecosystems) systems in our region. Many of the ecosystems that reemerge in the aftermath of the Caldor and Dixie Fires will be profoundly transformed from their previous states of dynamic equilibrium. California agriculture is currently strained by persistent climatic impacts such as drought, excessive heat, declining winter chilling hours, salinity, and other environmental stresses to crops and livestock. These changes also impact ornamental gardening.

Here in Northern California, these are a few of the extreme challenges we face due to climate change.

I have an outing planned to the Sonora Pass region of the Sierra Nevada during the first week of October. Hopefully the National Forest in this area will not be closed and I will have a successful outing with interesting photographs to share.

« Last Edit: September 22, 2021, 07:42:43 PM by Robert »
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4452
  • Country: us
  • All text and photos © Robert Barnard
Re: Robert's Crystal Range Project - Year 3, 2021
« Reply #95 on: October 09, 2021, 08:02:43 PM »


I have returned to Sacramento after visiting the Sonora Pass region of the central Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. There were issues with the weather and photographic equipment failures. Some of the photographs turned out well despite periods of dense smoke from wildfires, then snow and overcast skies at the higher elevations (10,000 feet plus; 3,048 meters), and the mentioned equipment failures. I was able to borrow another camera and am waiting for the remaining photographs to be sent to me. Once I get caught up and process the photographs I will post a summary of this trip.



It was the peak season for color on the Quaking Aspens, Populus tremuloides.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

cohan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3401
  • Country: ca
  • forest gnome
Re: Robert's Crystal Range Project - Year 3, 2021
« Reply #96 on: October 14, 2021, 02:26:09 PM »
Camera failures are a pain in the behind! Good you were able to borrow one, at least.. Nice colour on the aspens- we are now past peak, a lot of trees bare and Tamaracks/Larix have reached peak- always after the other trees.

Robert

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4452
  • Country: us
  • All text and photos © Robert Barnard
Re: Robert's Crystal Range Project - Year 3, 2021
« Reply #97 on: October 14, 2021, 07:08:29 PM »
Cohan,

We are finally having cool autumn-like weather. It sure beats the extreme record-breaking heat of this past summer. The marine, onshore airflow moderated summer temperatures at our Sacramento home; however continental conditions dominated the summer weather at our Placerville property. In Placerville it was extremely hot most of the summer.

Yesterday, I was in Placerville and was able to air drop the remaining photographs to my laptop. These were the photographs that turned out well and consisted of most of the plant photographs. Air Drop sure beats transferring the photographs via email!



This is a scene of the Aspens, Populus tremuloides, at Monitor Pass.



Here I am near Sonora Pass doing field botany. This time of year there are very few plants in bloom; however I am keenly interested in how plants are responding to environmental variables, and why they respond to the variables in a particular manner. For me there is always something interesting to observe.

Although right now I have fall planting and a lot of work, I do hope to have time to write a submission about this particular field trip and my observations.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

cohan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3401
  • Country: ca
  • forest gnome
Re: Robert's Crystal Range Project - Year 3, 2021
« Reply #98 on: October 15, 2021, 03:37:09 PM »
Looking forward to the rest of the pics. What is Air Drop?

Robert

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4452
  • Country: us
  • All text and photos © Robert Barnard
Re: Robert's Crystal Range Project - Year 3, 2021
« Reply #99 on: October 15, 2021, 06:56:10 PM »
Cohan,

AirDrop is part of the Apple computer operating system. It allows close range wireless transfer of files, such as photographs, between computers. It is my preferred method to move photographs off my camera to one of my computers.




Our trip to the Sonora Pass region of California started on Monday, 4 October 2021. Originally three were to participate in this outing; however one person dropped out due to health issues. So this trip consisted of my brother Jim and I.  Since this was a week-long excursion, I will discuss this outing in segments.

The first leg of the journey started in Placerville. We traveled eastward up Highway 50 over Echo Summit. I was able to observe, first hand, a portion of the destruction caused by the Caldor Fire in Eldorado National Forest. There were very strict traffic controls in place, so stopping to take photographs was not possible.

Once in Christmas Valley, we turned south on Highway 89, traveled over Luther Pass into Hope Valley, down the Carson River canyon, then southward to Markleeville. Here we encountered the destruction caused by the Tamarack Fire earlier this summer.



Here we turned eastward to drive over Monitor Pass. The first photograph is a view facing west at the summit of Monitor Pass. Top, is a photograph of my older brother Jim at Monitor Pass.



This is a view facing east as we left Monitor Pass and drove toward Antelope Valley on the east side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.



The smoke from the KNP Complex in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park was terrible during the first portion of our trip. The smoke became especially dense in the Antelope Valley. The AQI (Air Quality Index) was off the scale. Due to the frequent massive wildfires each summer, this is now a common occurrence in our portion of California for the last 5 years or more.



Once we reached Antelope Valley, we traveled southward toward the junction to Sonora Pass. I estimate that half the land area we traveled through, between Placerville and Sonora Pass, has been burned over by wildfires during the last 5 years. Drought and climatic change is slowing regrowth and recovery of the vegetation and ecosystems. There is evidence the systems that emerge after the wildfires will be very different form the previously existing ecosystems.

To be continued…
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

cohan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3401
  • Country: ca
  • forest gnome
Re: Robert's Crystal Range Project - Year 3, 2021
« Reply #100 on: October 17, 2021, 06:46:48 AM »
Smoke is a real drag. We had it for a rather modest period this year (coming from west, south and east, though mostly B.C.), then recently a really short spell as smoke came from northeastern Saskatchewan!

That first view, with aspens, could *almost* be here, then the views rather diverge...lol

Robert

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4452
  • Country: us
  • All text and photos © Robert Barnard
Re: Robert's Crystal Range Project - Year 3, 2021
« Reply #101 on: October 17, 2021, 08:40:47 PM »
Cohan,

Some of the plants common to the Great Basin might also be plant species seen in your home region.



We made a very brief stop in Antelope Valley before continuing our trip southward to Sonora Pass. Rabbit Brush, Chrysothemnus viscdiflorus ssp. viscidiflorus, is a very common Great Basin Species and blooms during the late summer-autumn. Atremisia tridentata ssp. tridentata, Big Sage Brush, was also seen; likely the most common species seen throughout the Great Basin.



Some of the annual autumn blooming Eriogonum species are very showy when seen blooming in mass. I did not have time to key any of them to the species level; however they were frequently seen as we drove southward.



We arrived at Sonora Pass late in the day.



The smoke was still fairly dense; however it had dissipated greatly compared to the levels of smoke in Antelope Valley.



The was no place to camp at Sonora Pass (no water), so we traveled down the west side of the pass to the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River where we found a designated camp site near the river. Although it was a formal campsite, there were no other campers except the campground host a fair distance from our camp. Unfortunately, the host ran a gasoline generator into the evening each night. At least we were camped as far away as possible from their campsite.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2021, 02:10:00 PM by Maggi Young »
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4452
  • Country: us
  • All text and photos © Robert Barnard
Re: Robert's Crystal Range Project - Year 3, 2021
« Reply #102 on: October 21, 2021, 07:30:42 PM »


Our camp was set and there was still plenty of light for a short hike before dark.



We hiked up the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River to Kennedy Meadows. The last time I visited Kennedy Meadows was in 1973 when I was 17-years old.



Human development has had a detrimental impact on this area. The original Kennedy Meadows resort has been in existence for at least 100 years. Since my last visit in 1973, the number of trailers, pack animals, pavement, and buildings has increased tremendously. The meadow ecosystems have been impacted detrimentally by grazing pack animals and direct human activities. On close inspection, the hooves of the pack animals had seriously trampled the vegetation of the meadow. Soil compaction was negatively impacting the meadow ecology. In many areas, the understory vegetation has been reduced to dust or mud by the traffic of campers, vehicles, travel trailers, grazing animals, and fire wood gathering.



Attempts have been made to stabilize the incised and eroding banks of the Stanislaus River. These efforts have failed due to the relentless human pressure on the ecosystem.



Environmental conditions did not improve until we reached the wilderness boundary. Unfortunately, the sun was now setting and we needed to return to our camp. I would have enjoyed exploring the wilderness; however our plans were to return to Sonora Pass and hike in the high alpine areas above the pass.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2021, 07:33:40 PM by Robert »
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4452
  • Country: us
  • All text and photos © Robert Barnard
Re: Robert's Crystal Range Project - Year 3, 2021
« Reply #103 on: October 22, 2021, 11:26:54 PM »


The next morning we drove back to Sonora Pass to explore the southern route from the pass. The trail traverses the northern drainage of an unnamed 11,000-foot (3,352.8 meters) peak through a long series of switchbacks that eventually skirt the western ridge and flank the peak.



Much of the smoke from the previous day had dispersed; however the weather had also turned cold and unsettled.



It was frustrating attempting to photograph the plants as the camera preformed poorly in the cold weather.

Pinus albicaulis, White Bark Pine, is a common species seen near the tree line in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.



Phacelia hastata var. compacta is a high elevation species frequently seen in the Canadian through the Artic-Alpine life zones.



Antennaria species can be difficult to key to the species level when flowers are not present. These predominantly mat-forming species can have very attractive silvery foliage.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Diane Whitehead

  • Queen (of) Victoria
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1412
  • Country: ca
Re: Robert's Crystal Range Project - Year 3, 2021
« Reply #104 on: October 25, 2021, 06:15:06 AM »
If you find a new species, you might be able to name it.

If you find an unnamed mountain, may you name it?
Diane Whitehead        Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
cool mediterranean climate  warm dry summers, mild wet winters  70 cm rain,   sandy soil

 


Scottish Rock Garden Club is a Charity registered with Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR): SC000942
SimplePortal 2.3.5 © 2008-2012, SimplePortal