Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What I call "tar weed", and other aromatic plants.

Both, Joe Erwin and Naoma Holley steered me to these plant identifications. Thank-you!

I'm going to do some more posts on smelly plants the grow in the EelRiver valley. I'll atart with this one. This is what I always called "tar weed". But I know that's wrong because the newcomers told me it was.

Tar Weed or Vinegar Weed

Trichostema lanceolatum
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Trichostema lanceolatum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Subfamily: Teucrioideae
Genus: Trichostema
Species: T. lanceolatum
Binomial name
Trichostema lanceolatum Benth.

The annual herb of the mint family Trichostema lanceolatum is commonly known as vinegar weed because its foliage contains volatile oils that have a strong vinegar odor. Other common names for the plant include terpentine weed and camphor weed. The oils also have phytotoxic properties, which help vinegar weed compete by killing or injuring other plant species. Indians of northern California used the plant as a cold and fever remedy, a pain reliever, and a flea repellent.

Vinegar weed is a wildflower bearing striking purple-blue flowers on short green stems. The numerous leaves are juicy and green and are covered in fluffy hairs. The plant is well adapted to its native range in California, where it thrives in dry, nutrient-poor, sun-baked clay soil. In hot weather the vinegar smell of the plant becomes intense as the oils in the tissues permeate the air. The plants of this genus are sometimes called blue curls, but this name may be more associated with the similar, but sweeter smelling, species Trichostema lanatum. Vinegar weed is found on the west coast of North America from northern Mexico to southern

Yerba Santa. Eriodictyon glutinosum

Other Names: tar weed, Yerba Santa, mountain balm, Consumptive’s weed, bear’s weed, gum plant.

Elements Applied: Leaves are commonly applied in herbal medicine.

Used for: The plant is valued for its scent. Additionally it’s used to promote expectoration.

The plant’s conventional application is for catarrhal pulmonary diseases, asthma, recurrent bronchitis, and laryngitis. Quite popular for cold-in-the-head and nasal congestion. Additionally applied for rheumatism. The herb is used topically to heal bruises, sprains, insect bites, and sores.

Safety: There is no data concerning the plant’s safety level. It is possible that the plant interact with a chemical remedy you use. Speak to your health-care provider before using the plant.

Related Terms:
Consumptive's weed, bear's weed, eriodictyol, Eriodictyon californicum, Eriodictyon glutinosum, gum bush, holy herb, mountain balm, sacred herb, tarweed, Wigandia californicum.

Brand name products: American Indian Baby Smudge Bundles Clarity (Yerba Santa) from Ancient Aromas, Flower Essence FES North American Flower Essences Yerba Santa ¼ Oz from FES Quintessentials, HerbPharm Yerba Santa 1 Oz from HerbPharm, Mouth Kote from Parnell Pharmaceuticals, Turtle Island Yerba Santa Leaf from Turtle Island, Yerba Santa 1 Oz from Nature's Apothecary, Yerba Santa Botanical from Viable Herbal Solutions, Yerba Santa liquid Extract from Eclectic Institute.

Note: Not to be confused with other herbs which share the same common name(s). For example, the common name "mountain balm" is also used for Ceanothus velutinus, Satureja chandleri, and Calamintha nepeta. The common name "consumptive's weed" is associated with three different Eriodictyon species. The common name "gum bush" is also associated with several different Eriodictyon species. The common name "bear's weed" is also used for Arctostaphylos uva-ursi. The common name "tarweed" is associated with many species of Hemizonia and Madia. The common name "holy herb" is used for marijuana (Cannabis sativa), hyssop (Sorghum vulgare), basil (Ocimum basilicum), verbena (Verbena officinalis) and aloe (Aloe barbadensis). The common name "sacred herb" is used for marijuana and tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum).

Chumash Indians and other California Indians have used Yerba Santa (Eriodictyon californicum) and other related species (Eriodictyon crassifolium, Eriodictyon trichocalyx) for many centuries in the treatment of pulmonary conditions, saliva production, and to stop bleeding of minor cuts and scrapes. In the United States and Britain, Eriodictyon californicum was formally used for conditions including influenza, bacterial pneumonia, asthma, bronchitis, and tuberculosis starting in the late 1800s until the 1960s (when drug regulations became more stringent around proof of efficacy). Subsequently, the extracts remained on the GRAS ("Generally Regarded as Safe") as a flavor for foods, beers, and pharmaceuticals (such as to hide the bitterness of quinine). Eriodictyon plant extracts have also been used in cosmetics.

Eriodictyon species contain flavones with free radical scavenging (antioxidant) properties, and have therefore been proposed as being beneficial for a number of health conditions. However, there is little scientific study of Eriodictyon californicum in humans, and efficacy has not been demonstrated for any specific condition.

Watch video on yerba santa by clicking the arrow below:

Yerba Buena

Yerba buena (Clinopodium douglasii) is a rambling aromatic herb of western and northwestern North America, ranging from maritime Alaska southwards to Baja California Sur.[1] The plant takes the form of a sprawling, mat-forming perennial, and is especially abundant close to the coast.

The specific plant species regarded as "yerba buena" varies from region to region, depending on what grows wild in the surrounding landscape, or which species is customarily grown in local gardens. Perhaps the most common variation of this plant (besides Clinopodium douglasii) is spearmint (Mentha spicata).

In parts of Central America yerba buena often refers to Mentha citrata, a true mint sometimes called "bergamot mint" with a strong citrus-like aroma that is used medicinally and as a cooking herb and tea. In Cuba, yerba buena generally refers to Mentha nemorosa, a popular plant also known as large apple mint, foxtail mint, hairy mint, woolly mint or, simply, Cuban mint. In Puerto Rico a close relative of traditional culinary savory, Satureja viminea, is sometimes used. In Peru the name is sometimes applied to a shrubby aromatic marigold, Tagetes minuta also known as huacatay or "black mint"; in this case, despite some similarities of flavor, the herb in question is in the Sunflower family and is quite unrelated to any of the mints or mint-relatives with which it shares a name.

Penny Royal (Mentha pulegium) Toxic! My warning, Ernie

Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium) is a plant in the mint genus, within the family Lamiaceae. Crushed Pennyroyal leaves exhibit a very strong fragrance similar to spearmint. Pennyroyal is a traditional culinary herb, folk remedy, and abortifacient. The essential oil of pennyroyal is used in aromatherapy, and is also high in pulegone, a highly toxic volatile organic compound affecting liver and uterine function.
Note: an abortifacient means that it kills unborn children. The Indian people of the north coast routinely used it to abort unwanted pregnancies.
The drawing isn't a very good depiction, I can get a picture tomorrow and add it here.
As an easily-made poison, pennyroyal has had a long historical use. Early settlers in colonial Virginia used dried pennyroyal to eradicate pests. So popular was pennyroyal, that the Royal Society published an article on its use against rattlesnakes in the first volume of its Philosophical Transactions (1665)

Pennyroyal tea is the use of an infusion made from the herb, the infusion is widely reputed as safe to ingest in restricted quantities. It has been traditionally employed and reportedly successful as an emmenagogue (menstrual flow stimulant) or as an abortifacient. In 1994 a young woman died from an undetected ectopic pregnancy while performing a self-induced abortion using pennyroyal tea; reports say that she had consumed the tea for longer than the recommended five days. The most popular current use of the tea is to settle the stomach. (don't trust it! Ernie)  Other reported medicinal uses through history include treatment for fainting, flatulence, gall ailments, gout, and hepatitis (presumably Hepatitis A), and as a lung cleanser, a gum strengthener and, when ground with vinegar, a tumor remedy.

I'm sorry! I got this information from so many places that I couldn't keep the attributions in order, and I didn't want to look them up again. As long as nobody sells this article, we should be okay. Otherwise bring me chocolate peanut butter oatmeal cookies in jail!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Naoma's email finds me

Date: Thu, 22 Apr 2010 14:51:58 -0400

Subject: Re: Panther Gap

Hello....I was so glad to find your address as I was researching for new

information on Panther Gap. I grew up there in the 30 & 40's , and have

been getting " homesick" for information about that area. My

grandparents homesteaded there. I would love to hear about what the area

is like now. I miss the big Douglas Firs ( Virgin timber) and the

coolness of the big trees of Bull Creek. If you could take a little

time to share with me your experiences It will be appreciated. I was

about two years old, when I rode a pack mule into the "Ranch" sitting on

top of large pane glass windows, with a father's admonition...." do not

dare break those windows" I rode the complete trail with my legs and

feet well away from the windows that hung on either side of the Mule.

Thank you. I am new to computers, and do not have a "blog" I would

appreciate any communication. Naoma Holley

Saturday, April 24, 2010

How to tell a story on this blog.

Circle "E" brand western boot. Circle E boots I thought Joe Erwin might be interested.

My wife says; “ everything that Ernie says is based on the truth, then he embellishes, exaggerates, changes things that don’t fit, and in the end he tells a great story that leads you to believe that something happened, but you are not sure what”. Just like that last sentence, that isn’t what she said at all, but I’ve heard her say something much like that statement, until in my mind, it becomes what she said. That is how “twice told tales” are passed down. Ancestors, become more heroic, battles become bigger, villains become more ruthless, and common thieves like Black Bart, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and others become, not common thieves, but adventurers bigger than life itself.

Today, people ride into the South Fork of the Eel canyon, wiggle around a little bit, find a place to drive themselves a stake, put up “No trespassing by God, this is my Land” signs on every edge of “Their Land”, then they make themselves comfortable, and start to look around them. They can’t help but love this wonderful place. They become curious about our history, and start to study. Soon, they read a story or two about some event, they take the story quite literally. They haven't heard all umpteen versions, like some of the people with residential seniority, but they feel that they need to express their outrage and horror.

They pass judgment with very little information, when it's probably more fun to learn most of the stories before passing judgment anyway. I was raised knowing that a good story was in the person telling it, and everybody's version was at least a little bit different, so it paid to just listen to the story, know that it was based on the truth, and wait for the next story, or the next telling. Black Bart may be one mans hero, and another mans common thief. Same with the early pioneers. Some were made out to be far better than they deserved, and some were made out to be far worse than they really were. The one thing that I found out in talking to the Old-Timers. You believed what they said, and the way that they said it. Most of them would admonish you that what they were telling you was the truth, and other people would tell you a different story, but theirs was the only true version. They would go so far as to point out that other people were “damn liars”.

So, I was raised listening to stories, leading them in the direction of things that I wanted to know, but I was always smart enough not to question the story teller, or I wouldn't get to hear any more “tall tales”.

When oral history is passed down from generation to generation, great becomes greater, big becomes bigger, small become smaller, until you end up with stories about giants, and wee people, and knights in shining armor killing maiden-stealing-dragons.

Evey telling of the tale is like telling somebody about a dream that you had. We all know that a dream makes no sense whatsoever, but when we try to tell somebody about it, we add continuity, we leave out the part that might embarrass us, and we add a few things here and there to make the dream sound better. After all, we are the only one that knows about the dream, so we tell our own story our own way.

I guess what I'm getting around to saying, is when you tell a story here, tell it your way. We want to hear YOUR version of the story, the way that you tell it, or the way that you heard it. Too many people won't tell their stories today because everybody is so quick to judge. The rules of this blog is that spelling doesn't count that much. Punctuation doesn't count that much. Colloquialisms are okay. For the readers, the rules are to be good listeners and DON'T interrupt, like my cousins did. They didn't get to hear half as many good stories as me.

After all, you might to hear a good story!

I heard that Joe Erwin has a cousin Naoma that knows some history about the Circle “E” ranch up panther gap way. As usual, I'm not bashful about asking questions. So, I would like to ask Naoma if she has ever found any arrowheads or Indian artifact on the ranch, and does she knows who were the first white settlers there.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"New" History

"Joe writes home" is over 100 comments now, and some "new" history is coming out about Bull Creek, Panther Gap, Shelter Cove, and Honeydew. Here's the link for the interested. Joe writes home

Other newsie notes: Mountain Lions are numerously being sighted in the area of the ridge between Dean Creek and Little Buck Mountain creek. One was hit in the road, and it's mother hung around for a while. A man I know said that he saw a Mountain lion that was redder than most and seemed to have a dark patch on it's head and down the center of it's neck. He also said that he had a Lynx eating his chickens. He said that the cat had hairs sticking up from it's ears and cheeks, and off it's elbows. I'm not arguing with him about his stories, he is a fairly credible person and has lived in the hills for a LONG time, and has seen many mountain lions and bobcats. But, if I had seen either of those animals, I would have waited until somebody else mentioned it first, then I would have said "Yeah, Me too".

But, you can only imagine the first time that I saw, a Road-runner, a Pheasant, an Opossum, and a Wild Turkey, right here in Southern Humboldt. All separate occasions. Yes, I waited until somebody else announced it first.

The ridge up the hill from where the freeway goes over Dean Creek hill, has a large rock on it that has several Mountain Lion dens of yore in it. Or, is there mountain lions that still live in it??? When I was young and stupid, or I should say “stupider”, I crawled back into the cracks in the rocks to see. It’s dark and spooky, cold and scary. I was never so glad to be back outside of anything in my life. I still get the chills thinking about it. I guess that I’m glad that I didn’t find any Panthers!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Harming Redwood Roots. From one that has "harmed" many.

I tried to answer this question in the "comment section", but wrote too many words. So, I put it here as a "Post".

"How close can a proposed building foundation typically be to an existing mature redwood tree without harming the tree and it's root system?"

First, you have to convince me that you have a very, very good reason for needing a building there. You should never build ANY kind of a building around a redwood. The redwood always wins!

I know this stuff is boring to the folks that don’t want to know anything about redwoods, but they “know that they love them”. But, please read! You WILL learn something, I promise!

I don't have nearly the experience that some have, but I have experience that not many have. I have cut and fallen redwoods, I have built roads with a Cat through them, I’ve dug out stumps. I’ve split every kind of a redwood split product that can be made out of redwood. I’ve built many structures from redwood. I’ve built many structures near redwoods. I have what is known as “Common Knowledge” about them.

Here's why you will lose if you build around a redwood: The common misconception about a redwood is that it only has a very shallow and weak root system. Nothing can be further from the truth. More later.

Fir trees usually have two major tap roots, that are usually found on the uphill side of them. They go deep down, and they anchor the tree very firmly to the soil. I know this from dynamiting them off of hillsides for road building. I dug a small hole between the roots, placed a small charge, and touched it off. That gave me a burrow between the tap roots, and under the center of the tree. Then I placed a bundle of dynamite under the tree, along with fertilizer and diesel fuel, I back-filled the hole with soil, lit the fuse and ran like hell. The tree would jump out of the ground about a foot. With its tap roots gone, it would fall right over.

Redwoods are not that simple. Even though they have “No tap root” they have dozens to hundreds of what I will call “anchor roots”. The anchor roots extend downward at a 30 to 45 degree angle, if the tree is on flat ground. They seek firm soil and they will extend downward until they reach it. These anchor roots can be found as deep as 12 feet, they quite commonly are found at 10 feet deep. On hillsides these anchor roots can extend almost straight down. That is why you can see redwoods growing above a cut road bank. You wonder how they stay there. I know from digging the stumps out of hillsides that they have the roots that seek the tight soil. In most all cases they have roots that go straight down on the lower side of a steep hillside. That may answer some peoples questions. Redwoods don’t have tap roots, they have MANY very sturdy “anchor roots”.

In combination with the anchor roots the redwoods have thousands of “feeder roots” that seek nutrition for the tree. These roots are very fine. From hair like, to pencil size. These are the roots that you see when you dig around the base of a redwood. These surface roots are what give people the misconception that “the redwood trees only have surface roots”. The feeder roots are very resilient and grow quite rapidly. They grow to where the food, and water is, in a very short time. (I was going to say a heartbeat, but we have enough anthropomorphizing of redwoods. Redwoods are not people, people. It‘s okay to love them, but they don‘t have toes) Redwood's feeder roots grow rapidly in the direction of needed nutrients. People just walk to the grocery store. Redwoods are much more adapted to where they live than we are. If the redwoods were people, I wouldn’t be surprised to find redwood roots coming up in the beer walk-in. They are not people, it does the tree a great disservice to think of them as such, please get real!

As I’m am sure you realize by now, the redwoods don’t make it to be thousands of years old without a sturdy and well adapted, and resilient, root system.

Now, to answer “Anon’s” question: Don’t cut into the plain of a thirty degree angle down from the base of the tree. Because that is the area of the anchor roots. On hillsides measure the angle down from the surface angle and add to it. On a 60 degree hillside you can dig straight down, if you are foolish enough to do that. I have! Stay without of that plain, and the redwood won’t even acknowledge your presence. You will not harm the tree even a speck! But you will be repairing your building a bunch. Don’t do it unless you need the building very badly.

I want to say that everything here is from my own direct knowledge. I have no education to rely on, so I would sincerely appreciate any corrections from the erudite.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Redwoods, Natures Gift

The Del Norte Titan. Not quite as big as the Dyerville Giant, but still a nice tree!

The controversy over Richardson Grove has bothered me to the point that I really fear that people don’t take the time to think about things anymore. They seem to just have opinions. That wouldn’t bother me so bad, but they seem to base their opinions on popular thought, or mistaken ideas of what a redwood is, or how it grows. If I promise not to lecture you too much about my opinions, would you take a little bit of you time to read my experiences with redwoods.

My whole life has been associated with redwoods in one way or another. You can’t be raised on the north coast of California with out gaining a considerable knowledge about redwoods, or at least that’s what I thought. Recently, I’ve decided that may not be true. I have heard so much misinformation, disinformation and outright ignorance that I thought that I should print a few things from my life long love, and knowledge, of the redwood trees.

Redwood diseases:
I made a statement about “diseased redwoods” the other day. A person called me out, that I must not have any knowledge about redwoods at all, because they are “disease free” and that was “common knowledge”. Really? If they are truly disease free they would probably live for tens of thousands of years, but they don’t. I know, some would say that I’m stretching it to call top-rot a disease, but it eventually kills a lot of redwoods. Then there is heart-rot, that also kills a lot of redwood trees. Both are caused by fire scaring or top breakage, or top-death from drought years, but they all kill redwoods.

Root-rot is a genuine redwood disease, the bottom of the tree gets lumps around the base. The lumps are filled with rot. The giveaway that it is root-rot is the white growths under the bark. (It is caused by Heterobasidion Annosum. I didn’t know that, so I looked it up.) I also found out that there is no cure for it, and that the redwood tree should be cut, and the stump treated with Boric acid to keep it from spreading to other redwoods.

Redwoods also gets grey-mold. (Botrytis Cinerea, I also looked that up) It mostly happens in nurseries, but it can happen in the wild, and is always fatal. Healthy trees can be treated with a fungicide which will keep them healthy.

Redwoods also suffer from twig blight, Pestalotia Funerea. Twig blight can be identified by examining the tips of the needles. If they are turning brown from the tip to the base, it is twig-blight. It can also kill redwoods.

So much for “Redwoods don’t suffer from disease”.
Redwoods are remarkably fire resistant, and suffer a fire well. In fact, the redwoods will put out new, and much healthier growth after a fire. The competing underbrush, and small redwoods are killed. Any diseased trees will be burned in a fire. (this statement is where I got called out that redwoods “don’t have diseases“.) Fire is one of the few things that stops redwood diseases, and to protect them from fire is more detrimental than to let them burn. The fire spreads through the duff on the floor of the forest, and burns the accumulating vegetation matter that can cause a root fungus. Some of the surface roots also burn, which is also beneficial to the root system. It encourages new root growth. The ash from the fire feeds the roots of the trees, and they experience a growth spurt after a fire. To see a redwood forest five to ten years after a fire is a remarkable thing. Everything is fresh and new, the ferns are healthy and green again. Everything is back in balance as a forest should be.
The biggest danger to a redwood is where they grow. They thrive on river flood plains. River flood plains are mostly comprised of silt and soft soils. As the trees grow larger they become extremely heavy. The combination of the weight of the tree and the loose soils almost guarantees that they will blow down before they die of anything else. The wind works them loose and they rotate in the soft soils and topple very dramatically. My cousin and I watched during the ‘64 flood when many, many trees toppled in the Benbow state park. I have also had the unfortunate experience of evacuating Lower Redway, with the Redway Fire department, in a wind storm. We saw several large diameter trees slowly uproot, as if in slow motion, they slowly swing to the ground. It is so gentle to watch that you become mesmerized by the action. Watching a redwood topple is more thought provoking than you can ever imagine. Your mind fills with how old the tree was, and the history that past while it stood. You think of things like the birth of Christ, the pilgrims, the population of the new world, the conquistadors, the Franciscans, the Gold Rush, the civil war, the unfairness of a native population being uprooted and killed. Your mind fills with the life of the redwood, that is now over, as you watch it slowly float to the ground. When it hit’s the ground, it is the most explosive sound that you‘ve ever heard. Your feet jar from the impact. And, the trees life is over. Have you ever seen that? You will never be the same if you have.

The Dyerville Giant was knocked over by a windstorm. I used to take all of my visiting friends to see the Dyerville Giant. It was a long walk back to it from the parking lot, but it was always a treat for my friends to see it. On the way I would explain the things around us that made a redwood forest unique. I would show them how deep the duff was, how silty the soil was. I would explain the symbiotic realationship between the ferns and the sorrel and the redwoods. I would show them a limb from the top of a redwood tree, and a limb from the bottom of a redwood tree. I would ask them if they knew what kind of a tree that they were from. Few would guess that they were from the same tree, there is such an amazing difference between a low branch, and the branch just a few hundred feet up. I would show them all of the “redwood sprouts”. Which were actually broken redwood limbs that broke out of a tree during a storm. They come straight down, like an arrow, sometimes sticking many feet into the soil. Again with the Redway Fire department, we rescued a Little Ol’ Lady in a different wind storm. She called us in a panic. She wanted to leave. When we got to her house she had SEVEN limbs that fell out of a redwood. They went through her roof, ceiling, floor, and into the dirt under her house. Nobody should ever live under a redwood.

When we would get to the Dyerville Giant, I would explain that: “This is the worlds greatest tree. It is healthy all the way through, it has no heart-rot, it has no top-rot, it has no root-rot. This tree has more board feet of wood in it than ANY other tree in the world. You are looking at natures greatest miracle”. I would have a hard time getting through my spiel without choking up just a little. When we left the tree, my friends would walk away with a whole new understanding of redwoods, and maybe a little bit more understanding of me.

Now, back to the Richardson Grove. There are trees there, that have fallen in the wind, that have three layers of roots. Three layers of roots mean that there has been three events that have flooded the roots of the trees, enough to add a few feet of soil over them. The redwoods put out fresh new roots and continued to grow. Testament to the redwoods remarkable ability to survive natures tests.

The trees in the Richardson Grove, for many years were completely surrounded by pavement. At one time, in the middle of The Grove, you could just turn off of the pavement, and walk right into the lodge. There was a good 75 feet of pavement from the west side of the highway to the front of the lodge. It was that way for many years, the trees that are there now are still healthy. Let me be clear that I approve of moving the pavement from around the trees. Also let me be clear, I don’t approve of unnecessary encroachment into the redwood forest. Buildings don’t belong anywhere near a redwood tree. Redwoods are dangerous to be around in the wind and the rain! Been there done that! Also, I would way rather see a natural forest than a lodge stuck in the middle of it.

The highway is another subject. The highway is a critical part of our civilization and our community. The highway, in a modern condition, is much needed for our future on the north coast. The risk to the redwoods is practically none. I have a few reservations about some of the things that the state has planned, and I intend to address those issues. But, I want to work to get the road fixed, and ALSO not damage the redwoods.

There is much misinformation about the project in the grove. I have deep feelings about redwoods, which I also have about all of nature. Some of the people that call themselves “environmentalists” are a little misinformed, and a little bit too over the top to be thought of as environmentalists. It is sad that people view these radicals as “Protectors of the environment”. Many people have worked hard to educate themselves about the Grove project, people that I trust. People who were born and raised under these trees, and have deep feelings for them, people that have been to most of the world and speak many languages that now call this home. They should not be discounted out of hand. They know what they are talking about, and like me, are for the project with a few reservations, that can be addressed.

Most of the people that are against the project spend a lot of time referring to the “roots of thousand year old redwood trees”, and how cutting the roots should not be risked. I wonder how many of them know that those same roots can be many thousands of years older than the trees that they feed. Many trees in a redwood forest are clones of each other, sprouted from the same root stock, many, many times. The roots in a redwood forest are often feeding many trees, not just one. The roots of a redwood can span many trees, and go hundreds of feet around a single tree. That is how they suffer root damage so well. Not only are they quick to grow new roots, they can feed from their surrounding trees. Redwoods are as resilient as a weed. One of the few things that will hurt a redwood is overcrowding, and over competition from other species of trees.

If you’ve learned anything, you are welcome. If you know anything that would help me know more about redwoods, I will eagerly listen.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Two Rivers Tribune

I recently got an email note from Lorencita Lavine, '92 graduate of Hoopa Valley High School, and '97 graduate of Humboldt State University, and the current Managing Editor of the "Two Rivers Tribune". She wrote me to comment on my post about ”Indian Soap Root”. She seems to be a very nice person, and seemed to share my, somewhat offbeat, sense of humor. She even respectfully ignored my inappropriate spelling of “appropriatly”. She did point out that I have an obsolete listing in my sidebar, and asked if she could have her “Two Rivers Tribune” added to my listings.

Her email:
Hi Ernie-
I happened upon your website while looking up Soap Root. And, I
really liked what I was reading. I certainly laughed, especially the
comments about the "Indians," being that I am one. Anyway, I'm also the
managing editor of the Two Rivers Tribune and noticed that our publication
is not listed on your local and regional news sidebar. Also, the Eureka
Reporter is no more...Anyway, we'd love to be added to your site. We publish
every Tuesday, are located in Hoopa, but service the entire Klamath-Trinity
region from Happy Camp to Hawkins Bar , and we now have a website Thanks for the always interesting website and keep
up the great work!

Lorencita Lavine, Managing Editor
Two Rivers Tribune
PO Box 1328
Hoopa CA 95546

Such a generous, (and educated), person certainly deserves a listing. While I perused her publication, I came across several interesting articles that blew me away. One being the story of Shaunna Oteka McCovey

”Yurok Woman Honored by Humboldt State University
By Manuel Sanchez, TRT Staff Reporter

When furthering one’s education, it comes down to hard work and dedication. For Shaunna Oteka McCovey, a renowned author, attorney, and advocate, her drive and determination has led to her being awarded one of Humboldt State University’s (HSU) Distinguished Alumni for 2010.

McCovey was one of four recipients for this year’s award, all of whom will be recognized at the 2010 Distinguished Alumni Awards banquet at the Ingomar Club in Eureka, Calif., on April 23, 2010.”

I was also amazed by the father and son musicians that will be playing at Carnegie Hall, April 20 2010.

"The Delta Winds Orchestra -- including Hoopa Tribal member Charlie Henderson and his son Jeffrey Henderson -- will be performing at Carnegie Hall in New York City on April 20. The 80-piece orchestra will be joined by groups from around the world for their performances. / Photo courtesy of Jeff Henderson.",

I invite you to read Lorencita Lavines work at Also it is now listed in my sidebar.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Clipped from the L.A. Times 4-7-10

My Daughter called me from Los Angeles and told me that Humboldt county is all over in the paper down there.

Humboldt County afraid of being uprooted from pot perch
As legalization of marijuana grows as a possibility
, the Northern California enclave where weed culture thrives ponders its future. Would its pot economy wither or does greater opportunity await?

April 07, 2010|By Sam Quinones
Reporting from Garberville, Calif. — In this region renowned for potent marijuana buds, many in Humboldt County long accepted that legalizing the weed was the right thing to do.

Now some folks aren't so sure.
A statewide initiative in November would allow cities to regulate pot possession and cultivation. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) has proposed a broader legalization. Neither is certain to pass.

Yet as medical marijuana has spread and city and state budgets are being slashed, legalized marijuana is becoming more possible than ever. That has some people here thinking twice.

Wholesale prices have dropped in the last five years -- from $4,000 a pound to below $3,000 for the best cannabis -- as medical-marijuana dispensaries have attracted a slew of new growers statewide, Humboldt growers say.

Recently, "Keep Pot Illegal" bumper stickers have been seen on cars around the county. In chat rooms and on blogs, anonymous writers predict that tobacco companies will crush small farmers and take marijuana production to the Central Valley.

With legalization, if residents don't act, "we're going to be ruined," said Anna Hamilton, a radio host on KMUD-FM (91.1) in southern Humboldt County.
Photo of Anna Hamilton from Kym Kemps Blog.

In March, Hamilton organized a community meeting in Garberville addressing the question "What's After Pot?" It attracted more than 150 people, including a county supervisor, economic development consultants and business owners.

All this was unimaginable to the hippies and student radicals who came here in the 1960s and '70s, escaping a conventional world they abhorred. As marijuana's price steadily rose, it funded their escape. In time, mom-and-pop growers became experts.

The plant thrived in the tolerant climate -- cultural and geographic -- of far Northern California. Small plots got bigger. An Emerald Triangle of premium marijuana growers formed in Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino counties until, virtually alone, they supported the economies.

Following Hamilton's lead, a meeting will be held in Ukiah, Mendocino's county seat, on April 24 to discuss "The Future of Cannabis in Northern California." Speakers include the director of the Ukiah Chamber of Commerce.

For years the plant was only a small part of the Humboldt economy, as logging and fishing provided most of the jobs.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Joe writes home.

Photo from Wikipedia:

I've been corresponding with Joe Erwin, Who was raised in Panther Gap back in the day before the "change". Back when logging, and sheep and cattle ranching is how we made our living here. I was hoping that we could fill him in on what Panther gap is like now.

Apparently his father knew “Charlie” Howard, the famous Buick salesman that owned the Sea Biscuit Ranch in Willits. My uncle bought all of his Buicks from Mr. Howard also.

The following is copies of our correspondence:
Hey Ernie,

I ran across your blog when I was checking up on some of my friends
over in the Mattole Valley and just wanted to say hello. You blog
triggered a lot of memories.

I grew up on a ranch near Panther Gap. I imagine you know where
that is. If not. it is on the ridge between Bull Creek and Honeydew.
Of course, I know the community of Bull Creek was washed off the
map nearly 50 years ago, but it was a thriving little logging community
when I was a kid on the ranch. We had to move away in the 1950s.

My Dad's family did a lot of rock work in and around Benbow. Dad
and grandpa were skilled stone masons who built a lot of fireplaces
out of river rock. They also operated the James Ranch up by Bell
Glen and Red Mountain at one time and later grew musk melons
at Benbow. Dad also used to tell of caddying at the Benbow golf
links. Eventually the family homesteaded up near Panther Gap.

You'd think I'd have a lot of panther stories, growing up at Panther
Gap and living a stone's throw away from a place we called Panther
Opening. I don't have many such stories--just the federal hunter
dropping by to return the gate key and showing us the panther ears
and tail tip from his successful hunt out on Cold Springs Ridge. I
did hear that blood curdling scream, but only once.

We did see more evidence of bobcats, including a few sightings.
They were usually sitting in the middle of the road--a back country
dirt road that was seldom traveled. When I went back to visit the
area in the 1960s, I was driving down the switchbacks below
Windy Nip Gap (west of Panther Gap) on the way down to
Honeydew. I rounded a bend, and there sat a bobcat in the middle
of the road. I just stopped and watched him for awhile. More than
ten years later, I was moving my family from Nashville to Honeydew.
My 12-year-old son was riding with me as we started down that
same old road. I told him about seeing a bobcat there. As we
rounded the turn, there in the road sat two juvenile bobcats. We
watched them play for awhile. I gained a lot of credibility with my
son that day.

So, I lived near Honeydew and both my kids graduated from
Ferndale High School. I tried to make a living teaching at HSU,
while my wife worked at CR. We were not able to earn a decent
living, so we moved to Chicago, where I was a zoo curator. Then
we moved on to the Washington, D.C., area for me to work as
a scientific editor for National Geographic. Eventually, I settled
a job working for a biomedical research contractor.

But, growing up near Panther Gap can render a person intolerant
of living in town. So, we bought a little piece of property in rural
south-central Pennsylvania (this is part of Appalachia), close to
Maryland and West Virginia. I'm retired now, mostly, and live
in a county that has only 15,000 residents--very few of them
near me. Most mornings I stop in at the Dott General Store
and gas station for a cup of coffee, and chat a little with the
other geezers. It reminds me of the Honeydew Store (and the
Bull Creek Store long ago).

Well, when you blog, you never know who may turn up. I hope
all is well with you. I miss my Humboldt Home, but I'm not sure
it even exists anymore. Maybe it is true that "you can never go
home again." But, then, some people actually stay on their spot,
and there is something to be said for that.

Wishing you well,
Joseph M. Erwin


Thank-you so much for the letter. You are right, you wouldn't recognize it around here anymore. The land is pretty much the same, but the people and the places have changed. I wouldn't live any other place in the world though. I guess that I slowly got used to the changes as they came. I did suffer a great amount of culture shock, but for the most part I got over it.

At the time that you lived here, the predators were mostly eliminated. It would have been rare to see a mountain lion or a bear. They are coming back, and they are starting to be a problem. It will be interesting to see how the new people will deal with them. Most of the new people have moved deep into the wild territory, so they will be the ones to have the problems. We have no sheep like we used to have on the wild hills. There are no mills, and logging is gone for the most part. There is less catlle than there used to be.

Most of the new people are very naive about the land, and they have a tendency to care less about the history, but some of them find themselves at home here, and they know more than the natives about the land, places, and history.

Is it okay to put your letter on my blog? It jogged a lot of old memories for me.

Thank-you again for the history.
Ernie Branscomb.


Sure. No problem about posting the letter. My
life is an open book. I should write that book
sometime. Sometime soon, I guess--I'll be 69
years old in a couple of weeks. I'm not sure
a person should write their "memoirs" until
they are about 70, or so, but I'm getting there.

Yes, I knew/know a lot of non-natives. There
was some friction among natives and non-natives
out in the Mattole. We tried to build some bridges
when we were there--especially regarding
wildlife and fisheries and livestock issues.

I don't think I ever saw any evidence of bears
on the ranch, but we sure saw plenty of sign
around the King Range, and had them down
behind the house near Honeydew. I did see
a panther on Wilder Ridge in 1978. I was very
impressed with the tail length at the time. I
keep in touch with some folks there--not too
regularly, but once in awhile.

When I was a kid we had sheep and a few
cattle and some horses. Good horses. Dad
admired what Charlie Howard was able to
do with horses (like Seabiscuit) and we used to
visit Ridgewood Ranch whenever we went to
The City. So Dad had Buicks and racehorses,
but with not quite the same profile as Charlie
Howard did.

I always feel like I've come home when I get
to Hartsooks or Benbow. I suppose I might
move back sometime if my wife dies before
I do and if we have any money left. I could
get along just fine living in a little trailer next
to a trout stream, or out by Shelter Cove or
back up the Middle Fork or Van Duzen. As
long as I could get some wild black caps,
huckleberries, and a piece of backstrap once
in awhile.

Thanks for responding so quickly.

Wishing you well,

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fool!

There is no boat past the slide! April Fool!