In Transit: Water Features
We’ve had lots and lots of rain throughout December, and rills were running along the roads as we walked along the East Ridge Trail to Prince. Or as I walked, rather, bringing up the rear with my camera as usual.
This photo is looking roughly southeastward along a fairly steep downhill stretch of the East Ridge Trail between Skyline Gate and the Prince junction. (As with all of these photos, clicking on it gives you a much larger picture.) The rangers have put down lots of wood chips here in an effort to ameliorate the erosion and general muddiness, but the rains have been so constant and heavy that gullying is still occurring and hikers are making a sequence of parallel trails along the margins. A short ways downhill there is a water bar which diverts this flow off the road and onto the heavily forested east-facing slope.
This struck me as a good example of just how much sediment can get loose even where there is good management and true concern for the well-being of the steelhead trout here, so I made a video which is posted in the Appendix, below. I have no idea how much of this sediment made it down to the creek to eastward, nor how much makes it from this road down to Redwood Creek to westward. But the ground was very saturated and little of this runoff appeared to be sinking in.
Approaching Today’s Work Site: Prince Prairie
The rangers’ Kawasaki mule is parked across the road from the work site a short ways down Prince, approximately where the tip of the pen is pointing. (By the way, WordPress has a nice published appearance but places photos weirdly offset. Am trying to figure out how to remedy that.)
Although I have missed an occasional East Ridge work day in the past two years, I do not think this area has been pulled during that time; and from the size of the broom, it may well have been longer than that. There has been recent heavy mowing along the road margins, last summer or fall I believe, but that appears to be all.
Here is a panning view of the slope near the beginning of the work day:
And here is the Prince Prairie grassland, just a short ways upslope from where we are working today:
If I understand correctly, one possibility here is to clear down to the road and thus open up the prairie to viewing by passersby on Prince Trail, from which the following photo was taken. The currently extant grassland area is located beyond this broom patch:
And here is an illustration of just how quickly broom can be cleared and the viewscape opened up, even when one takes extended breaks for photographic purposes:
Making this oak visible from Prince Trail took v.little time and effort, yet changes the view from the trail markedly. And hence, perhaps, peoples’ perceptions of the natural terrain through which they are passing.
Technical Appendix: Additional Images and Information For Restoration Workers
Here is the video of the incipient gullying along the East Ridge Trail between Skyline Gate and the Prince junction. It may seem a small, commonplace thing in a winter of heavy rains such as we have been having, but the wildlands are festooned with such roads and all the small gullies add up. And become big gullies, unless they are stopped. I will soon be posting examples of the big ones, which probably began much like this:
It is an interesting question: where to divert all that water, which under natural conditions would mostly have percolated into the undisturbed leaf litter and soil that would have occurred where that long steep stretch of road is now. Diverting it off periodically with water bars is a vast improvement over doing nothing, but still, the diverted flow is creating a new intermittent streamcourse of sorts. It will be interesting to see how that evolves over time.
Here are all of the slides from today, minus the time lapse sequences. Some are repeats from above, and some are of native plants whose names I do not recall. Reminders are welcome!