Monday, August 11, 2003

Maps, Trails; Goshawks

[a letter to Forest Supervisor Stephen Eubanks of Tahoe National Forest]

Dear Supervisor Eubanks,

I had the pleasure of visiting TNF offices at Nevada City last Friday, and took a look at your remarkable collection of maps. Some TNF maps are old and fragile. It seems to me that your maps represent an important historical resource. I would like to see TNF obtain a grant to digitize the entire collection, beginning with such maps as are oldest and irreplaceable.

It was a little striking that, with all this wealth of maps, my guide, Bill Slater, could not put his hands on the 1962 TNF map of the Foresthill and Big Bend Ranger Districts. It would seem that no effort has been made to preserve the entire sequence of official TNF maps. This 1962 map is important because it shows the courses of many of the principal hiking trails on TNF.

I was also disconcerted to see, in Bill's office, a neatly-lettered list of map symbols to be used when preparing, I would guess, archeological surveys. There were special symbols for roads and railroads and ditches and so on. Strangely, there was no symbol for "trail," except, someone had at some later date drawn in a symbol for "linear feature." I have noted Bill Slater's penchant for calling a trail a linear feature.

Does such a list of map symbols betray a bias against trails? I would hope not. Yet it seems likely enough. My idea: add one map symbol which actually does mean "trail," and call it a "trail."

Yesterday (Sunday, August 10th), while on the way to explore a portion of the North Fork of the North Fork American in (mainly) TNF Section 34, west of Helester Point on Sawtooth Ridge, I took a wrong turn on the maze of logging roads and was briefly quite close to the section line between SPI Section 25 (just north of Helester Point) and TNF Section 26 (just northwest of Helester Point). Here I heard the sharp territorial peeping of a Goshawk, and then saw the bird itself. I have only heard this kind of vocalization near nest sites.

When I finally did reach the river, I found some interesting historic/archeological sites, involving the diversion dam for the powerhouse at the Rawhide Mine, a mile or so downstream. Narrow-gauge railroad track had been used as reinforcement in the low cement dam.

How I would love to see TNF acquire the SPI lands out on Sawtooth Ridge! The SPI clearcuts there are an abomination.

Thanks for your consideration of these matters,

Russell Towle

No comments: