In Pursuit of Defining and Protecting the Mendocino Pygmy Forest

Teresa Sholars, Professor Emeritus of Biology & Sustainable Agriculture, College of the Redwoods

Members of the Dorothy King Young (DKY) chapter have a 40-year history of investigating the ecology of the Mendocino pygmy forest (Hesperocyparis pygmaea) and promoting its conservation. This year’s efforts have been increased in cooperation with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Vegetation Classification and Mapping Program (VegCAMP), the Eureka CDFW office, and our state CNPS vegetation program.

We began meetings in the fall of 2014 to plan a large volunteer mapping effort to collect data to help define the associations of the Mendocino Cypress Woodland alliance. In February 2015, more than 25 people joined together to be trained on the CNPS/CDFW vegetation rapid assessment protocol. We then spent the week collecting data using this protocol that will help clarify all the diversity of vegetation associations within the pygmy forest.

This effort has been continued with local DKY chapter members, including a diverse group of botanists and ecologists from timber companies, botanical consulting firms, local land trusts, and local CDFW. Once the more than 100 field data samples are compiled and analyzed, a regionally specific classification and map will result and help in our conservation efforts of this incredibly rare plant community.

Mendocino pygmy cypress
Members of the Dorothy King Young Chapter of CNPS, local and state CDFW, and other partners sampling stands with Mendocino pygmy cypress. Credit Todd Keeler-Wolf.


Clare Golec
Credit Clare Golec.


Above Schooner Gulch
Above Schooner Gulch, walking to the first sampling site for 2015. Credit Haley Ross.

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