FARMS Leadership | Monterey and Santa Cruz | December 7, 2020
Location(s) of Field Day: Resource Conservation District of Monterey County 744 La Guardia St., Suite A Salinas, Ca
Participating Schools: Soquel High School Gonzalez High School Alisal High School Greenfield High School
Field Day Hosts and Mentors: Drew Mathers – Soil Conservationist with the Natural Resource Conservation Services Megan Barker – Project Administrator/ Environmental Scientist with the Resource Conservation District of Monterey County Laura Murphy – Soil Scientist with the Resource Conservation District of Monterey County
Theme: Post-Fire Soils
Summary of the Day:
2020 has been a challenging year on so many levels and this summer we had one of the worst wildfire seasons in California history. All of our students and teachers were affected by the wildfires. In Santa Cruz County, there was the CZU Lightning Complex Fire that burned 86,509 acres, and in Monterey County, there was the River Fire that burned 48,088 acres. With the trauma of the summer fires fresh in their minds, students had a chance to learn about soil and how it is affected by wildfires. Drew Mathers from the NRCS and Laura Murphy with the RCDMC sourced 6 different types of soils for student’s to experiment with. The field day was packed with information on the challenges and the benifits of wildfires. Students learned about the different severity levels of wildfires and how to observe the landscape to determine how severe a fire was in an area of land. There were polls and experiments and we all had a lot of fun learning about soil conservation and wildfires.
After a bit of a drive, Tehama FARMS Advanced was greeted with the fresh mountain air on a late spring morning and temperatures that didn’t even warrant a sweatshirt. Sierra Pacific Industries invited our group to attend the Sierra Cascade Logging Conference Inc. “In Woods Forest Harvest Demonstration Day”. This is a day where a group of industry supporters take the time to carve out of the forest a 1-mile trail for groups of students who are led by experts in logging to hike and stop at several stations to see the very impressive logging equipment at work as well as meet and network with a variety of industry professionals.
Once we had been properly fitted with fancy hard hats to ensure everyone was exercising supreme safety, we started off following our leader who was a Wildlife Biologist for Sierra Pacific Industries. As we wandered through the woods we heard from many different local volunteer programs such as The Backcountry Horsemen and Shasta County Search and Rescue and the different ways they work with our logging industry to accomplish different tasks. Not only did we meet volunteer units, we also met Jim Lepage from Lepage Company who’s focus is building and maintaining the logging roads. He spoke with the students about the career opportunities with heavy equipment and why their jobs are so important to the logging companies. Of course safety comes first, so without quality roads the big rig drivers driving heavy loads of logs could not safely get in and out of these deep woods locations, but also how roads that they can safely drive a moderate speed on will increase efficiency and the number of loads one trucker can make with logs in a day. Time = Money.
As we rounded the bend we could hear the loud sound of a saw and smell the fragrance of freshly cut wood. This began our walk into what truly happens in the forest during a harvest. First we learned the different ways there are to fall, or cut down, a tree. We heard from a 30 year wood cutter about the tools and manual labor that goes into cutting a tree by hand which he demonstrated on a HUGE pine tree right in front of us. It was amazing to see his skill, precision, and speed with his chainsaw as well as the ability to make the tree fall exactly where he wanted. He was able to fall and cut into logs roughly 50 trees a day and therefore is used to process the trees who’s trunks are too large in diameter for the heavy equipment that we watched but are able to do closer to 1500-2000 trees in a day. We then followed the process to the landing site that was set up where a harvester was delimbing and cutting trees into “logs” of appropriate length, then a feller-buncher was gathering and loading logs onto a truck to be hauled off the mountain and to a processing plant. It was such an amazing experience to see first hand these GIANT machines at work and meet the men who were behind the controls.
Thank you too all those who took part at the In Woods Demonstration Day and Sierra Pacific Industries for inviting us to take part. The students thoroughly enjoyed it and have a much greater understanding and appreciation for the logging industry as a whole. We hope to be apart of it in the future!
On Monday, April 8, 2019, Patino and Sunnyside High School students joined at Reedley College for the last field day of the 2019 FARMS Leadership Program. A student volunteer introduced Mr. Kent Kinney, the Forestry Professor at Reedley College. We then joined a Fish and Wildlife Biology Lab Class in fishing for count in the colleges pond. After this exercise, students joined the mule packing team in the barns. Each group of 4 students watched the Mule Packing demonstration before demonstrating it themselves. The students were taught how to properly pack the mule for overnight adventures and in case of undesirable weather to keep their supplies dry for the trip. Finally, our day ended with a guided River Walk on the Kings River with students from the Forestry Lab class. Students have to know all of the type of trees and shrubs seen out on the walk and taught our students and then quizzing them. What an amazing day at a college that is practically in our own backyard.