December 1, 2017 – Did you know you can support land conservation by purchasing a “wild grown” holiday tree from Bear Yuba Land Trust (BYLT)?

Last week, Helen Crawford and Brent McDermott donated a truckload of beautiful trees harvested from their high elevation property, Clear Creek Preserve.

Folks can choose from white fir for $8 per foot and red fir or “silver tip” for $10 per foot (trees above eight feet are $12/ per foot). All the proceeds from tree sales benefit BYLT’s “Save Land” campaign.

“Much of the Sierra is over-crowded because of fire suppression and horrible environmental abuses over the last 150 years.  We are only removing trees which are being thinned for forest health—not tree health but forest health. The heart of the woods lies in its whole ecology.  We are dedicated to this.  All of the trees we are cutting are wild and organic.  We have an easement on the property to prevent any cutting of trees EXCEPT for forest health,” said Helen Crawford.

Brent and Helen came to BYLT to preserve their land and enforce their forest stewardship ethic. So, they generously donated a Conservation Easement for 107 acres of high-elevation forest near Bowman Lake Road in 2012, to be protected forever.

In recent years, Crawford and McDermott have been making brush piles for wildlife, sowing native wildflower seeds, thinning trees out of crowded areas, burning slash, preparing to plant seedlings specifically grown from seeds acclimated to the same elevation.

The couple has ordered Ponderosa, Jeffrey, blister-rust resistant Sugarpine, and Douglas Fir. It takes a lot of work to prepare for planting. Some trees were cut down and moved while others like dead snags remain to provide wildlife habitat. Excessive brush was cut back, structured burn piles were built. Once they receive burn permits they wait for the right day to burn. They are equipped with rakes, a burn torch, pitch forks, and a water tank backpack for any run away burning.

They have started restoring the small meadow area and next year will expand it. All the hard work is paying off.

“We have a beautiful new open area of tree seedlings with wonderful southern exposure where we hope to replace the under-represented tree species and, of course, create animal habitat. The birds are loving the opened up mountain area and grasses have been showing themselves. We have seen some elderberry provide fruit this year and we hope that can expand naturally once we have more openings.

More ground animals have moved in. We had a red-tail hawk hunting there and I found a skink for the first time. We had a forest raptor diving into a brush pile, probably a sharp-shinned hawk. We did not see the band-tailed pigeons this year but last year I saw them fly over every morning I was there on their way to the oaks on the western ridge,” said Helen McDermott.

Stop by the Land Trust office, 12183 Auburn Road, Grass Valley (in the Gardener’s Cottage of the North Star House property) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday – Friday. On weekends, call 530-913-3067 to learn about Get them while supplies last!

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