18th Conifer in the Miracle Mile!

Original Post DATE: 2/10/2013

The internet is an amazing thing. It opens up lines of communication that were unheard of in the past. Case in point–I got an email from Richard Moore who lives in Callahan, California. He knows the Salmon-Trinity Mountains well, as he has been exploring them since he was a young boy in the early 50’s. It turns out that in the early 1980’s he discovered a small stand of western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis) in the Russian Wilderness. He knew about the famous square mile wherein 17 conifers species had been found. He also figured the junipers he discovered were within–or at least very close to–that carefully shaped square mile. He had told John Sawyer in person about 2 years ago; but never relayed the location of the trees. John and I made the trek into Sugar Creek and I climbed to the ridge trying to predict where the juniper were – and missed them by a few hundred yards and a wall of granite. Now I was back to find the 18th Conifer in the Miracle Mile.

Sugar Creek
I was within 200 yards (just around this granitic corner) of finding the junipers on my last visit to the miracle mile.

Turns out, in the summer of 2012 his brother bought him a copy of Conifer Country and he was re-inspired to try to get the word out about his discovery. He borrowed his son’s camera (which he readily admits to have taken some poor photos), put together a PDF with the pictures and GPS coordinates with the help of his son, and also got that file in an email to me. What we now have is the evidence (minus a specimen) of the newest addition to the botanical legacy of the Klamath Mountains. I plan to meet Richard this summer and collect some specimens for the Humboldt State University Herbarium. Below is the link to the file with photos and GPS coordinates that Richard sent to me.

Richard Moore collecting a specimen of Juniperus occidentalis in the Miracle Mile - the18th conifer!
Richard Moore collecting a specimen of Juniperus occidentalis in the Miracle Mile – the 18th conifer!

A list of conifers within the Miracle Mile:

  1. foxtail pine
  2. whitebark pine
  3. western white pine
  4. Jeffrey pine
  5. ponderosa pine
  6. lodgepole pine
  7. sugar pine
  8. white fir
  9. Shasta fir
  10. subalpine fir
  11. Engelmann spruce
  12. Brewer spruce
  13. mountain hemlock
  14. Douglas-fir
  15. Pacific yew
  16. incense-cedar
  17. common juniper
  18. western juniper

3 Replies to “18th Conifer in the Miracle Mile!”

  1. I’m a local resident of Scott Valley and one of my favorite trails and area is the Sugar Creek Trail, the Duck Lakes trails, and Statue Lake in the Russian Wilderness. I often take day trips into Sugar Lake just to “rejuvenate” my psyche if I’m not feeling quite right as it’s such a magical place for me. I was there yesterday, as a matter of fact, and again found a few plants that I’ve never before seen anywhere else up in these Wilderness Areas which I spent so much time riding and packing into.

    I was very happy to find this website just now. I just hope that the area can stay pristine as it still is, even with the new trail the CCC’s built into Sugar Lake a couple years ago. My fears of JH Ranch destroying it as they have some of the areas around Duck Lake is huge with this new easier access trail to a lake right up the road from them. I sure hope not… and I hope that FS keeps a close watch on them and stops it if anything even starts to happen which is negative to the continued beauty and specialness of this amazing Miracle Mile which we are so lucky to have here in our backyard like we do.

    1. Rhonda- Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think we can only hope that by educating people about the uniqueness of the Russian Wilderness they will be better stewards when visiting. Maybe you can spearhead some outreach to the JH Ranch folks about the importance of “treading lightly” when they visit.

      Cheers, Michael

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