On Conifers & Climate

Students struck out into the diverse forests of SFI’s property this month to learn all about ‘Montane Conifers: Identification, Measurements, and Responses to Climate.’ Our instructors, Lucy Kerhoulas and Rosemary Sherriff, joined SFI from Humboldt University, where they are both researchers and professors. Co-hosting the course were Dr. Chris Lee, a forest health specialist from CalFire, and graduate student and Registered Professional Forester, Sophia Lemmo. SFI’s volunteer course host, Lynn Ransford, reports on the day and her experience in class below:

Dwarf Mistletoe
Photo by Lynn Ransford

"The Conifers class was perfect. The weather was ideal and there was NO SMOKE! Hurrah! Armed with outstanding 25-page handouts, we set out to find and identify 25 different species of trees that the instructors had listed. We found them all, and a couple more! We encountered some species in the field behind the Institute, more down by the creek, in the riparian area, and still more in the Oak Savannah and forest up the road from SFI. We were also intrigued by “Dwarf Mistletoe,” which Chris Lee showed us. The Dwarf Mistletoe shoots sticky seeds up to 50 feet away!

After a pleasant lunch in the breezes on the patio we went back to the field behind SFI and learned to take “core” samples from cedar trees, examining tree rings and learning a lot about “dendrology,” or tree identification. The rest of the afternoon was spent back on the porch, looking at spores and diseased pine needles under the microscopes, and listening to discussions about climate change, drought, and forest health. Students asked lots of good questions; keen interest in all the materials presented was evident. The two instructors from Humboldt, an additional, 3rd instructor, plus the California Fire Specialist all were excellent! It was clear that they all had spent a great deal of time and thought in their preparation for today’s course; it was extremely rich with an abundance of information, sound data, charts and graphs, and very interesting, well-presented information.

You know how many classes I have taken at the Institute. All have been good, but this class was among the best! Very professional, but also very pleasant and personable. Thank you again for this opportunity to host. I enjoyed every minute!

~ Lynn Ransford
[original text has been edited for length and clarity]

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