Pacific Forests

Ever wonder what a rain forest looks like but don’t want to travel to South or Central America? Well, California has just what you’re looking for. The pacific northwest regions of California are famous for lush, fern filled forests. Over one hundred years ago, the entire area coastal area between Crescent City and San Francisco was heavily forested and few settlements existed in the area. In fact, during the Eocene, redwood trees extended all the way into Wyoming. Today, they, along with sequoia and cedar trees, are mostly limited to California’s northern coast.

Gold Rush
The influx of people to California in the late 1800’s during the gold rush, began to take its toll on these forests. The seemingly unlimited source of timber was used to furnish all the houses, buildings and pasture fencing with little or no regard to the consequences of over harvesting. Before scientists could make an accurate census of how many plants and animals lived where, deforestation brought many of the species to extinction.    

Owls and Old Growth
Today, with forest surveys, field studies and population management, we can have a more concrete picture of how the environment is doing. In recent years, more and more people have joined forces to save well-known species in our forests. Many of you may remember the spotted owl lobbying of years past, where it was discovered that the owl only nested in old growth trees. These mature trees are often the ones felled first, as they provide the most timber.

Although many logging companies replant tree groves to replace the ones cut down, this owl was unable to make the transition from old to new growth trees. After years of legislation and negotiations between environmental groups and logging companies, acres of old growth forests were set aside in a preserve that cannot be cut down.   

Saving the Forests
Because maintaining preserves is a costly feat, many of the region’s larger forests have been set aside for recreational use, where a small fee can be collected from hikers, campers and other forest users. This money then goes to maintain facilities, present educational programming, and pay staff to watch over the plants and animals. What a wonderful way to help maintain a habitat!  

While the logging industry still is active in the northwest region, remaining the area’s leading employer and economic foothold, companies are becoming more and more diligent in replanting and utilizing selective logging practices.

Who are the Forest Dwellers?

   Caterpillars
During mid to late summer and early autumn, large, unusually shaped, colorful caterpillars are often found or seen outdoors. These caterpillars, larvae of moths and butterflies, feed on green leavesof various trees, shrubs and other plants. The exact host plant or plants vary with each species. Most caterpillars are discovered fully grown when wandering across lawns, driveways, sidewalks, etc., on their way to pupation (resting or over wintering) sites. It is this time they are usually finished eating and will cause little or no further plant damage. Therefore, controls are generally not needed.

   Wolverine
This bulky, bear-like animal is dark brown with broad, yellowish bands from shoulders to hips, meeting at the base of the tail. The male is generally larger than the female and average weight is 18-42 pounds. Preferring forests and tundra, the wolverine is distributed throughout B.C. except in heavily populated areas. The also occupy Alaska, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories but are rare in the Prairies
and eastward. 
 
   American Bald Eagle
This large eagle is a blackish colour with a white head and tail and a heavy yellow bill. The call is a squeaky cackling with thin squeals. The bald eagle breeds from Alaska east across Canada and south to California. Winters are spent along coasts and large rivers in much of the United States. They inhabit lakes, rivers, marshes and seacoasts.

   American Peregrine Falcon
This large, robust falcon is slate-grey above and pale below, with fine black bars and spots. The head is hooded with black and has a wide black "moustache". Young birds are brown or brownish-slate above and heavily streaked below. Usually a silent bird, a rasping "kack-kack-kack-kack" can be heard while nesting. The Peregrine Falcon breeds from Alaska and the Canadian Arctic, south through the mountainous west and sparingly in the east, wintering coastally, north to British Columbia. They prefer open country, especially along rivers and lakes and occasionally in cities.

See other types of habitats by following the links on the right side of the page.

The Sacramento Zoological Society  // 501(c)(3) nonprofit
3930 West Land Park Drive, Sacramento, CA 95822  //  916-808-5888
© 2014 Sacramento Zoo, All Rights Reserved
 


Sacramento Zoo's home page button