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2016 Student Field Trip to California

Our excellent biennial visit to Gordon and Karen Schatz… and the coast redwoods in Northern California, Arcata, California and vicinity June 5-9, 2016! Penn State University Park students: Lianna Johnson, Ethan Mansfield, Alex Storm; Penn State Mont Alto students: Josh Hersl, Ryan Karroll, Jeremy Newman; PSU faculty/staff hosts: Dr. John Carlson, Dr. Beth Brantley, Mr. Craig Houghton, Mrs. Nicol Zembower.
Student trip to the Schatz Tree Farm, Humboldt, CA 2016

Student trip to the Schatz Tree Farm, Humboldt, CA 2016

The student's impressions and thoughts on the trip: 

Day 1, 6 June 2016 MONDAY (Summary by Ryan Karroll and Jeremy Newman)

We started the day at the Samoa cookhouse. We saw old chainsaws with bars larger than we had ever seen before, a larger-than-life saw-zall, and interesting photos of logging history in the area. It provided a real-life image of what it was like back in the day. We visited the North Coast Co-op to gather items for lunch and snacks. My mind (Ryan) was opened with new foods. (Jeremy felt at home!)
From there we there we went to Trinidad, with the little store called Murphy’s. We went to the Schatz’ beach house and met Gordon and Karen. I (Ryan) was pleased with the aesthetics of the exterior, particularly the cedar shakes!
Once we saw their home and how they live in Maple Creek, we understood why they spend most of their time at Maple Creek. However, the Trinidad house and view were amazing, too. We visited with Gordon and Karen until the fog lifted, and Karen shared stories of Prisoner Rock and Flat Rock. We could hear the buoy bell before we could see anything. When the fog lifted the view was astounding!
We travelled to the Prairie Creek picnic area for our first glimpse of big redwoods. We ate at the picnic tables and were dwarfed by the immensity of these ancient giants. I (Ryan) asked about the cascara tree. I learned that it was a laxative for birds, which aids in seed dispersal. Gordon finds this process somewhat annoying, as he ends up with volunteer cascara trees in his garden. We chewed on wood sorrel leaves, which were quite tasty. A Stellar jay almost ate the banana chips. We took a quick stop in the VC to see a cool elk skull embedded in a redwood.
We drove a short ways to park at the base of Cal Barrel Road. This was our introduction to redwoods in the forest. Gordon talked about fire scars, stump sprouts, adaptations and survival. We saw trees that were as big as houses. Alex and Mr. Houghton decided there were 1.5 million board feet per acre of standing timber. Ryan found a lucky agate. We saw a live tree hollowed by fire, and we could all fit inside of this tree. We saw burls that were as big as cars. We looked at unique flowers, saw our first banana slug, and so many ferns.
Gordon educated us about the adventitious sprouts on burls that could grow into roots or shoots.
We found the Big Tree, estimated age of 1,500 years, to be quite impressive! At the Corkscrew Tree, Gordon talked about cell division on one side of the tree. He described the genetic plasticity of redwoods, with 66 sets of chromosomes and how unique humans are, diversity within the human race, and how much more diversity is possible with redwoods. We took a short walk to look at moss-covered bigleaf maples, which reminded us of southern trees.
We then gathered souvenirs at the very cool gift shop to promote the legend of Sasquatch.  
Off to the beach with agates! The water was absolutely freezing!!! It was my first time (Ryan) to the Pacific Ocean. It was different from anything I’ve ever seen before. I (Jeremy) enjoyed how the mountains were right behind us. The combination of sandy beach and rocky shoreline was intriguing.
We learned that the agates were brought to this beach from rivers with prehistoric volcanic activity.  They are loosened from the basalt and make their way to the beach. Karen’s passion for agates and geology was inspiring. She told us that this was her relaxation and centered her. She helped each of us
find agates and made sure that we all went home with a piece of beach! Karen’s vast knowledge of geology went well beyond agates, including California jade and other interesting rocks we were finding.  We made our way to the Oriental Buffet for good conversation and food and a nice ending to a wonderful, new and completely different, awesome, and educational experience with amazing people,
Gordon and Karen Schatz!
Day 2, 7 June 2016 TUESDAY (summary by Alex Storm)
There is a good chance that this will be my last trip report to ever write for the Penn State Mont Alto faculty! On the bright side I am writing about the highlights from one of the best 5 consecutive days of my life (yes that includes the long days of travel, too). However, trying to pick my favorite day of the trip is comparable to trying to say which one of my family members I love the most… needless to say it was very difficult for me to choose.  Before the trip I really knew nothing about how or if redwood trees were commercially managed by
timber companies. In just a short couple of hours visiting with Glen Lahar at the Green Diamond Nursery I can confidently say that I was definitely educated on the subject. Due to my background in the private forestry industry I am always interested and excited by the work that the industry does to manage resources. I believe that Green Diamond and Glen are an excellent representation of what the private forestry sector should look like.
In order to ensure a sustainable future of their 400,000 acres of forestland in California the familyowned business is integrating the latest technology and scientific knowledge in their nursery. By taking tissue culture from the best growing trees which are labeled as “super trees” from all sites and elevations the nursery can create a million clones of each tree in a time period of 14 months. Although there is some mortality (30%) after the seedlings are taken from the lab and exposed to the outdoor elements, once the seedlings have established there is nearly no additional seedling mortality (<5%).   The genetic superiority also plays dividends in the volume that can be harvested from a forest that is
grown with cloned trees. Green Diamond claims that these forests produce on average 2 times the volume of lumber over a rotation (80 years) than a naturally grown forest will yield.
Although the yield data and economic benefits are exciting to see, I believe that a person really needs to listen to an employee such as Glen to understand how special this company is. Not only is the company interested in producing high quantities of lumber in a short period of time, but also they are also
interested in pushing the limits of where redwoods can be grown. In doing so they are ensuring that future generations will be afforded opportunities to explore the uncertainties in redwood genetics.  Green Diamond is most definitely a great example for other companies within the industry to follow in conserving the resources of our nation. I believe that companies such as this one have a responsibility to convey to the general public the great work that they are doing to not only feed the lumber needs of everyone but also to protect the land in which the trees were cut from. I will always remember and appreciate the opportunity to visit this wonderful place and learn from someone with such a great amount of knowledge. 
Day 3, 8 June 2016 WEDNESDAY (summary by Josh Hersl)
On Wednesday, students from the Penn State Forest Technology and Forest Ecosystems Management programs toured the Arcata Community Forest. Gordon and Karen Schatz led students and faculty on a hike through forest trails while recounting the history of the forest and explaining the various management techniques used there.  Gordon explained that the Arcata Community Forest consisted of second growth coast redwood trees that have been present since the 1920’s. The area was previously logged and used for agriculture. It was
repeatedly burned to prevent coast redwood trees from sprouting back, but this practice proved too difficult and the area was allowed to return to a more natural state. There was evidence of man’s numerous attempts to conquer these massive trees in the massive stumps that remain in the forest. I was very impressed by coast redwood’s ability to withstand the original deforestation and sprout back to gigantic trees in less than 100 years.
Gordon showed students various sites where coast redwoods were harvested and planted. Gordon pointed out an educational sign that explained how the Arcata Community Forest became the first municipal forest to receive Forest Stewardship Council Certification. The forest is completely selfsustaining
through timber harvesting revenue. It was very encouraging to witness forestry like this working in the United States. I was impressed by how much the citizens of Arcata value this resource and think this is a great example for other communities throughout the country. It would be wonderful if larger cities could implement some of the same practices with their local tree species to provide
people with the opportunity for recreation and a greater understanding of forest management.
Day 4, 10 June 2016 THURSDAY (summary by Lianna Johnson)
I decided to write about our mini trip on Thursday to Humboldt Redwoods State Park. No one was assigned that day because it wasn't supposed to happen, but I still think it's relevant to the trip report! :)
On Thursday, many of us were still stuck in Arcata, catching various flights throughout the day and night.  Instead of sulking in our hotel rooms all day, Craig, Josh, Jeremy, and I (Lianna) decided to travel about 45 minutes south to Humboldt Redwoods State Park, where we spent about 4 hours exploring more of the redwoods. We began by exploring along the Avenue of the Giants where we walked through a semiguided tour. We saw "Founder's Tree," which was 346 feet tall. Not to my surprise, we were all extremely intrigued by a tree without a plaque; a tree we called "Shattered Tree," which is pretty selfdescriptive.
It was a tree that had fallen on top of a dead tree on the ground, and the tree simply shattered into a million pieces. Some of the planks seemed 30 feet long. It was a sight we hadn't seen all week, and certainly one to remember! By the end of the day, we all admitted it was our favorite tree.
After a nice picnic lunch, we did more adventuring in the park. We saw the "Flatiron Tree" and the "Giant Tree," which was an incredible 363 feet tall! On our way back, we decided to stop at another landmark, which was the "Immortal Tree," a tree that survived lightning, a fire, and a flood. I will admit, after spending a few days in the redwoods, all the big, beautiful trees started to blend together. To me, the 200-year-old trees were just as phenomenal as the 1000-year-old trees. But it was so awesome to spend another day in the redwoods with some cool people!
It's been a week since a saw a redwood tree and I'm STILL smiling. They were the biggest, most beautiful and fascinating trees I have ever seen. I will be forever thankful to the Schatz family for this opportunity---it was truly a chance of a lifetime for me to see the redwoods, and now that I have, I can't wait to
come back and visit! Plus, who better to see the redwoods with than a bunch of forestry students and professionals? I learned so much about redwoods and trees in general that this trip was just as informative as it was fun. Thanks again to everyone who made this trip so memorable!
A summary of everything (summary by Ethan Mansfield )
This trip was a great experience in numerous ways. The Karen and Gordon Schatz are wonderful individuals and they are dedicated to growing a beautiful resource. Along with this, visiting the Pacific coast, touring with Glen at Green Diamond, and hiking numerous trails throughout the redwood forests made it an experience that will never be forgotten. My favorite experiences of this trip were at the Arcata Community Forest and the Pacific coast. Visiting Arcata Community Forest was a great opportunity to see active redwood management, learn from
Gordon’s experiences, and visit with Karen discussing various memories they have had together. I also enjoyed the Pacific coast where Karen shared her agate finding skills and allowed us to find some of our own. Those agates will be treasured for a lifetime. Even though these are just a couple of my fondest
memories, I enjoyed the entire trip and I appreciate the unique and rare opportunity that you both provided us with. Thank you again!!!
Final thoughts… (from the editor)
Another tree-mendous visit with Gordon and Karen Schatz! What wonderful hosts, eager to educate us Easterners, and willing to share their northern California world. We look forward to seeing you again, and thank you SO VERY, VERY MUCH for sharing coast redwoods and their ecology with us!!