Date: 6/8/18 7:10 am
From: Lars Per Norgren <larspernorgren...>
Subject: [obol] Re: Distribution of noble fir in the Coast Range???
It does not occur on Prairie Peak, as I had long assumed it did. It is on Grass Mtn or Big Grassy as locals call it . 3600 ft and prominent to the west of Mary’s Peak. I have never been to Big Grassy, and believe it is gated. But in 1980 I saw a poster in downtown Alsea inviting folks to help harvest noble fir cones on Grass Mtn for the Forest Service. In a conversation with Jim Bays in Banks last fall I learned that there is one tree on Big Grassy whose seeds are particularly prized by the Chrisbiz. Little Grassy, to the north, approximate headwaters of the Yaquina does not have Abies procure (and its formal name is “Little Grass Mountain”). It is lower than Prairie Peak. Fanno Peak, in Polk County and just north of the extinct company town of Valsetz has lots of noble fir AND Pacific silver fir(Abies amabilis).
Appropriate to this discussion, a Varied Thrush began to sing outside our living room as I typed the second sentence. Loud enough to be heard through the windows. This is the third June in 26 years that I’ve detected the species at our house, elevation 930 feet and 25 miles nw of downtown Portland. Previous occasions VATH was audible here daily in July. I have not heard one here since April this year, probably. But I was absent four of the past six mornings. Yesterday I heard a Nashville Warbler while still in bed, a new species for the property. It was not singing later in the morning. The Varied Thrush has gone silent just now.
The extensive highlands of Polk County include Laurel Peak (a reference to Rhododendron, which is present in a patchy way in that highland, absent in Benton County)where a Navy radar station operates a weather station. At 160 inches precipitation a year, it has been touted as the wettest place in the continental USA. A default brag, presumably there are no manned weather stations on the summits of Olympic NP. There was western white pine in the Polk County highlands, but logging took care of that. I saw a lone, ankle high seedling WWP on Fanno Ridge in 1981. Extensive blue huckleberry on Fanno Ridge, although I don’t know which of half a dozen potential species. There is one tiny patch of blue huckleberry on Marys Peak. Actually Fanno Peak has Vaccinium uliginosum, a sweet, ankle high species of huckleberry growing on a floating bog. I’m providing these details to illustrate the botanical diversity of the highest points of the Coast Range. I believe the majority has been lost to logging.
In the highlands of Yamhill County there is noble fir. I’ve never been there, but my one-time employer Bob Ruth told me in 1982 that that was considered a good source of seed for Christmas trees due to extra branches per whorl. In Tillamook State Forest noble fir is extensive. Commercial operations have gathered its boughs by the semi-trailer full for Christmas wreaths. In November of 1987 I stumbled on a clearcut on a summit in Tillamook SF that had been replanted with a mix of western white pine, noble fir, and probably Doug-fir. I presume this was State of Oregon property rather than a private timber company. WWP and noble fir should grow a lot faster at 1000m than D-fir in that climate.
Noble fir is not a picky species that only grows where there is winter snowpack. It thrives without irrigation in the white oak zone where Christmas tree plantations are. I found a volunteer noble fir on a south slope of Woods Creek, below 1000 ft elevation. This is a few miles ne (downwind) of the Marys Peak summit. The species simply can’t compete at lower elevations with hemlock,d-fir,etc.. Presumably noble fir was everywhere at the end of the last glacial advance, when lodgepole pine grew in the Willamette Valley. There was a two thousand year spell of very warm weather about 7000 years ago known as the “Post Glacial Maximum” or “Altathermal Period”. It was presumably then that noble fir retreated to their present refugee, while things like rattlesnakes and sugar pine moved north to Marion County. lan
> On Jun 8, 2018, at 6:14 AM, David Irons <llsdirons...> wrote:
> Good morning,
> This is a question for anyone who can answer it. Does noble fir occur anywhere in the Coast Range other then at summit of Marys Peak? I've not seen them elsewhere.
> Thanks in advance.
> Dave Irons
> Beaverton, OR

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