Sunday, October 4, 2015

Clearing up some confusion: Lone Tree Prairie

I am taking a break from ideas to write-up a mystery that I've cleared up for myself.

The Forest of Nisene Marks is a remarkable area, especially for old growth redwoods. Most folks are familiar with the Advocate Tree near the front of the park, but that barely scratches the surface. At any rate, for a long while I've been a little confused about Lone Tree Prairie. Now after revisiting the site at Aptos Creek Fire Road I see that my issue stems from the fact that the Amended General Plan for The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park is riddled with inaccuracies. Chief among them is confusing Lone Tree Prarie with Sheep Camp Meadow.

It is a reasonable mistake to make. There is no prairie at Lone Tree Prairie, only an old growth redwood (which the plan calls the "Hollow Tree" but which everyone else calls Lone Tree). The two combinations of maps shows that this is the case. First, from the USGS:

And now Google Maps:

From these two maps you can see that there is no prairie at Lone Tree Prairie, but there is one further up the trail. This is Sheep Camp Meadow. For verification we can reference Jeff Thomson's guide to the park:

The Plan makes this mistake everywhere, even labeling grassland where there is none:

Again, this mistake surely comes from confusing Lone Tree Prarie and Sheep Camp Meadow.

I think the fact that the Plan is so error prone clears up another point of confusion for me. It notes that there is a virgin redwood 60 feet to the east of the "Hollow Tree". I've explored the are thoroughly: there isn't. However, there is pretty clearly one to the west. A copy editing mistake, I'm now sure.


It looks like OpenStreetMap also gets the location wrong. Huh.

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