Sunday, February 24, 2013

Caltrans Bypass (Willits, CA): Oil Well Hill

Douglas Fir: cbh 18 feet, 8 in
While driving up to Laytonville for work on Thursday, I spotted the top of a large Douglas Fir that had the appearance of an old giant of the forest. It was thick and gnarled, the original top appeared to have fallen off, but a new top had reiterated and was blowing in the wind. This tree is also growing in an area called Oil Well Hill. This is the major "borrow site" for fill dirt material for the proposed Caltrans Bypass. Somewhere between 12 and 40 acres will be excavated from Oil Well Hill for "fill material." The Bypass project will dump between 1.4 and 2.5 million cubic yards of fill dirt in the wetlands area. It is estimated that 140,000 dump truck loads of dirt will be required to complete this task.
Douglas Fir: cbh 16 feet, 7 in
Oil Well Hill is covered with a beautiful Douglas Fir forest. There are several large trees growing on the spot. I am uncertain whether the two trees pictured will be in the excavation zone. However, the idea of destroying just a few more acres of what appears to be pristine forest is unfathomable. We should be doing everything in our power in this day and age to protect what little undisturbed forest remains, and make it a priority to find better solutions if construction projects are to be implemented near them. For me, Oil Well Hill has been a special spot on my trips north to visit the redwoods. It always seems to be the first spot that rises above the fog of the Willits valley. The driver is greeted with a piercing blue sky as the road rises up the hill. This is the spot where the trees seem to take on a new character, they seem older, taller, and wilder. It's a sign of what awaits further north. The excitement of wilder country and natural beauty usually begins for me here.

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