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Jenner Jottings -Tim McKusick - August 2016


Jenner Jottings -Tim McKusick - August 2016

Although we have been cutting Coastal Redwoods for hundreds of years, it is only in the last quarter century that we have begun to really understand the vital role these trees play in the coastal (and world-wide) eco-systems.

It has been recently documented that the Coastal Redwoods (which only inhabit a 450-mile strip of the Northern California coast) play a much bigger role in climate stabilization than previously believed. The larger, older Redwood Trees in our coastal forests actually sequester more carbon than any other forest on the planet, and do so at an exponential rate as they continue to grow.  

With their expansive foliage and great girth, these old growth trees are actually growing faster – that is, adding more biomass – than younger ones, and hence storing more carbon. 

The Theory of Fog Drip and the dynamics of the Coastal Redwood’s ability for Foliar Uptake of Moisture and Fog, are also now well documented as solid science. These amazing hydraulic wonders of Mother Nature actually grab moisture out of thin air and channel it into the ground, feeding the nearby streams and rivers, supporting native aquatic species in doing so. 

We now understand why the streams and water sheds denuded of their Redwood tree canopy go dry. The trees contributed greatly to the local ground water table, feeding the streams through their unique fog-catching abilities. And the shade produced ideal conditions for native fish and animal populations to thrive. 

To even consider cutting any more Redwoods in our rivers sensitive flood plains knowing what a negative impact it will have in doing so is beyond comprehension. We need to retool our logging industry to focus on thinning out the small ‘suckers’ to maintain the health of the larger more important trees. No longer should we judge our collective manhood by the size of tree we put on the logging trucks. 

A few weeks ago the mouth of the Russian River had closed naturally, with the estuary filling to the brim until it self-breached a few days later. While it was closed, the mirror-like surface of the little ‘lake’ was perfect for kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding. Penny Island was saturated and the visitor center deck was even with the river water level. 

After the river mouth self-breached, the visitor center was left high and dry, with green slippery algae coating the boat launch ramp. There were mats of floating algae in the river shallows and a series of green algal ‘bath tub rings’ lined the shoreline. 

The river algae is seemingly everywhere with unknown toxicity levels, definitely having a negative impact on Estuary water quality and the recreational capabilities of the area. 

Meanwhile the local cows are content cooling their hooves in the river shallows, doing what cows do – eat and poop.  

Would it be too much to ask to please remove this obvious source of pollution from our sensitive, nutrient over-loaded River Estuary? I mean, seriously. To ignore the cow by-products while at the same time demanding (as per the Federal Mandate) an estuary capable of supporting the native fish population is disingenuous at best.

Although the estuary-wading cows are not the only source of pollution in our lower river, they are one that we could easily deal with. One step at a time to a healthier and cleaner habitat. Let’s take that first step.