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May/June 2017 Newsletter

The May/June newsletter is now available! Click the link below. May/June 2017 newsletter...

12-06-2017 News 0

America’s National Parks Need Our Help Now More Than Ever

I’ve always believed that our national parks and our national monuments were as secure as Yosemite’s Half Dome: solid as a rock, i...

28-05-2017 News 0

March 2017 Newsletter

The March newsletter is now available! Click the link below. March 2017 newsletter...

26-03-2017 News 0

January 2017 Newsletter

The January newsletter is now available! Click the link below. January 2017 Newsletter    ...

19-01-2017 News 0

August/September 2016 Newsletter

Lots of news from Active and Corporate Members in this month's newsletter. Check it out! August/September 2016 Newsletter...

18-08-2016 News 0

July 2016 Newsletter

More about OWAC's adventures in Auburn, and then some! July 2016 Newsletter...

04-07-2016 News 0

OWAC Writer of the Year

The Outdoor Writers Association of California (OWAC) awarded the coveted “Outdoor Writer of the Year” for 2015 to John Poimiroo at...

19-06-2016 News 0

Stories from OWAC's Spring Conference in Placer County

Stories have begun to pour in from OWAC members' adventures at the Spring Conference in Placer County. See below for links to what...

16-06-2016 News 0

Story Opportunity

Who's interested in an international climbing story? This summer my brother, two friends and I are going to Tanzania to climb Mt. ...

01-06-2016 News 0

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5K, 10K and Half Marathon expected to sell out during month of May

Runs and 2.5-mile community hike take place Sat. June 3 at 8 a.m.

Suisun City, Calif. – The 10th Annual Lynch Canyon Trail Run has earned a reputation as the perfect combination of challenge and fun, and the toughest trail run in Solano County. The 5K, 10K, and half marathon races all start at 8 a.m. on Sat. June 3. Over 300 runners have already signed up at www.lynchcanyontrailrun.org. These runners are coming from six different states and internationally, and they range in age from 8 to 80. Whether they are racing to win, running for fun, or both, they will be challenged on the steep hills and treated to frequent aid stations with cheerful volunteers. All routes are 100 percent trail, with about 85 percent wide track and 15 percent single track, and spectacular views.

The 5K, 10K, and half marathon runs are expected to sell out during the month of May, so pre-registration is encouraged now at www.lynchcanyontrailrun.org for $40, $60, or $70, respectively. All proceeds support public access and improvements at Lynch Canyon. Pre-registrants receive a custom-designed event t-shirt on race day. Half marathon finishers also receive a one-of-a-kind finisher’s medal.

The Community Hike also starts at 8 a.m. It is completely free and there is no pre-registration. Over fifty people hike the 2.5-mile loop as slow or fast as they like. They walk a wide dirt trail alongside a creek toward a reservoir, then go 400 feet uphill to reach the highest point of the hike. At the top, volunteers cheer them on and give them a certificate recognizing their achievement.

The runs and hike are a great way to celebrate National Trails Day and to start National Great Outdoors Month!

Participants arrive between 6:30 a.m. and 7:45 a.m. for check-in and are encouraged to carpool; parking is limited.

Bring family and friends, but no pets. For the protection of Lynch Canyon’s wildlife and free-range cattle, dogs and other pets are not allowed.

For more information about the Lynch Canyon Trail Run and Community Hike, visit www.solanolandtrust.org, www.lynchcanyontrailrun.org, or call 707-709-9023.

Lynch Canyon is at 3100 Lynch Road, near McGary Road, between the cities of Vallejo and Fairfield. From Interstate-80, exit American Canyon/Hiddenbrooke or Red Top Road, and follow signs to Lynch Canyon.  

Lynch Canyon is owned by Solano Land Trust and is part of the Solano County Parks system. Solano Land Trust protects land to ensure a healthy environment, keep ranching and farming families on their properties, and inspire a love of the land. For more information about Solano Land Trust, its upcoming events and to make a donation, visit www.solanolandtrust.org. Solano County Parks are natural recreational sites where you can pursue healthy and fun outdoor activities. For more information about the Solano County Parks system and upcoming events, visit www.solanocounty.com/parks.

Could that be you?    

We're currently inviting media to visit Redding, the hub city for adventures in Shasta Cascade. It's absolutely beautiful there now, with too many waterfalls to count!

All you need to do is get a story assignment, grab a friend, select the dates you want to visit (2 nights 3 days) and contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I'll do the rest! We host journalists separately and create personalized itineraries so you can experience the activities you want to write about!

To discover all the adventures and attractions Redding and Shasta Cascade offer, and for additional information about the many amenities available, visit www.visitredding.com.

Looking forward to discussing the area with you. Thanks in advance.

Sincerely,

Susan Hartzler

Five High-Tech Hunting

Gadgets You May Not Know You Need

Minneapolis, MN (May 5, 2017) - Today’s hunters can choose from a dizzying array of high-tech gadgets, but how many of these devices actually improve our experiences afield? Items that work as advertised and solve common problems in many different hunting applications are well worth the investment. Here are five no-brainers.

Smartphone Mapping App

Next to a good pair of binoculars, maps and geographic reference materials are a hunter’s most valuable scouting tools. And if you haven’t checked what’s available in the way of mapping for your smartphone, tablet or computer these days, boy are you going to be surprised. Apps such as HUNT by onXmaps include detailed satellite images with landowner overlays. While these apps aren’t free, they’re worth every penny in areas fragmented with a mosaic of different landowners. Obtaining permission to hunt private ground just got a whole lot easier. Learn more at HuntingGPSMaps.com.

Thermal Monocular

Once reserved for military and law enforcement use, thermal-imaging technology is becoming better, increasingly affordable, and is now widely available to civilians. FLIR’s Scout TK pocket-sized thermal vision monocular retails for under $600 and is a powerful tool for hunters. The Scout TK works in all lighting conditions, making it the ideal optic for scouting game in full sun, fog or total darkness. In addition to aiding in game recovery, the FLIR Scout TK also helps hunters detect and elude large predators and avoid bumping game animals while traveling to and from hunting stands in the dark. Did I mention it records still images and videos? Learn more at FLIR.com.

Robert Desmarais is no ordinary caretaker, living as he does in a ghost town 8200 feet above sea level. He is also an historian, story teller, geologist, chemist and licensed blaster. He speaks of the people who inhabited this place as if he’d known them all personally, which due to the eerie nature of this town, he might well have. Robert is in the process of putting together a book on the history of the town. Hopefully it will be available before long, as just the few stories he told us made me want to learn more.

On a late April day, snow still thick on the high peaks, I joined the Eastern Sierra 4X4 Club for a trip up the rugged, steep dirt road to Cerro Gordo. We drove south out of Bishop, known as the “Little Town with a Big Back Yard,” and headed south to Lone Pine, where we picked up the 136, the road over to Death Valley. Just past the fading town of Keeler, we turned left and abandoned the highway for a dirt road that wound up eight miles to this historic mining town. Bishop indeed has a very big back yard.

It was clear, long before reaching our destination, that my two wheel drive car wouldn’t have made it, particularly on a steep section with loose rock. A good SUV with fairly high clearance would do just fine in dry weather. A four wheel vehicle could continue on the White Mountain Talc Road, which runs along the ridge and is supposed to return to the 395 at some distance north, but don’t take my word on that before heading out.

Cerro Gordo was considered the Comstock” to Los Angeles, with tons of silver bullion taken from the rich ore in these mountains. The Union, the main mine, drops about 1100 feet straight down, the ore car, still supposedly operational, reaches down 900 feet, and was last used years ago for an Annenberg Foundation video documentary. The foundation paid for the use by restoring the boiler room and pully in the huge building that sits just above the town and can be visited if escorted by Robert.         Over 32 miles of shafts connect to this vertical hole, and there are over 50 total miles of mines at Cerro Gordo. During the mining years, miners got 30 ounces of silver from every ton of ore, which was considered rich ore. While coal miners suffered from Black Lung Disease, silver miners got silicosis from the silica dust. We were shown an underground rebreather that was used by the miners, as sulfur dioxide was a mining hazard.

Complete article to appear in California Explorer.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” -- Albert Einstein

A century of wildfire suppression, four years of drought, and restoration practices that replanted burned and harvested forests with plantations of similar trees have led to a crisis in the Sierra Nevada that threatens a watershed that supplies 60% of the water used in California, sustains 60% of the state’s wildlife, and is essential to our populace, economy, environmental quality and way of life.

This is a manmade problem whose solution, as Einstein stated, cannot be achieved with the same level of thinking that created it.

The Sierra Nevada forest became unnaturally overpopulated primarily because of years of wildfire suppression that allowed forests to become more congested than is natural. In the late 1900s, fewer trees began being cut after environmental regulations and cheaper foreign lumber put loggers and mills out of business. The result is that high-intensity wildfires have increased in size and frequency.

Today, not a single active saw mill is processing raw timber into lumber in El Dorado County. Very few remain anywhere in the Sierra. Eldorado National Forest Supervisor Laurence Crabtree said, “If I were to offer a sale (of timber) today, there's no one locally to buy and process the logs. The cost of trucking logs to a distant mill substantially reduces the value of the public's timber."

The decline of California’s forest products industry has had serious consequence on the ability of local contractors and wood processing companies to compete successfully for U.S. Forest Service (USFS) contracts against larger, often out-of-state businesses with lower overhead and operational costs.

Not only are there fewer and smaller companies of loggers and saw mills to reduce fire danger and improve forest health, but the USFS has lost revenue from timber sales that previously helped fund forest restoration.

The USFS manages 6.3 million acres in the Sierra Nevada, about 60% of the range’s total forested area. It estimates that 500,000 acres of forest will need to be treated annually (two to three times greater than current efforts) in order to restore the watershed.

The Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC), a state agency, reports that very little progress is being made in the pace and scale of watershed restoration, quoting the USFS that “only an environmental restoration program of unprecedented scale can alter the direction of current trends.”

To help build a consensus on what to do, the Sierra Nevada Forest and Community Initiative (SNFCI), established five years ago, brings together diverse perspectives from local government, environmental and conservation organizations, the wood products industry, fire safe councils and public land management agencies.

Their biggest impediments are funding and what to do with the biomass cleared from the forests.

Presently, when a forest is thinned or cleared, logs are piled and burned (as there are few mills to process the timber and no market for it), but doing so on 500,000 acres of forest annually would ruin air quality, create a massive release of greenhouse gases (GHG) affecting climate and greatly damage recreation, tourism and quality of life in the Sierra.

In its report, “The State of the Sierra Nevada’s Forests,” SNC states that diverting the biomass generated by these forest treatments from pile and burn to bioenergy could reduce GHG emissions by 3.15 million metric tons annually. Over ten years that would be the equivalent of eliminating the emissions of 3.9 million cars.

There are 14 biomass power plants in the Sierra Nevada today, with inadequate capacity “to handle the pace and scale of restoration” SNC reported. It described a 2013 incident in which the Honey Lake biomass power plant stopped all chip deliveries in mid-summer at a time when forest restoration was in full swing and places that would accept forest biomass were in high demand.

Without a place to dispose of the biomass that summer, a number of proposed restoration projects could not be completed.

Limited options to restoring the watershed, through logging, result in publicly unpopular choices, such as increased use of planned or prescribed fires (set intentionally to remove unwanted vegetation).

Local air districts impose very tight burn windows and durations of prescribed fires, which can complicate their implementation, resulting in the unintended consequence of enabling larger, more damaging fires, which emit more pollution than would have been released by controlled burns.

Despite funding, biomass disposal and prescribed fire limitations, a number of collaborative watershed restoration projects have been conducted in Fresno, Amador, Calaveras, Shasta, Placer, Madera, Plumas and El Dorado Counties, including $5 million allocated by the USFS to reduce fuel and help restore the Eldorado National Forest watershed.

In the Caples Lake watershed, Eldorado National Forest and the El Dorado Irrigation District are partners in trimming selectively, creating fire breaks, conducting controlled burns with ground crews and by helicopter in remote areas to create multi-age stands, and restoring the forest and its watershed to a more natural and fire-resistant condition.

Nevertheless, what’s being done to restore the Sierra Nevada watershed is virtually a drop in the bucket. It is a problem that only can be solved by thinking and acting at a different level.

The third and final part of this series will describe benefits of restoring the watershed.

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Featured Member

 Lara Kaylor

My name is Lara Kaylor and I have worked as a journalist for more than a decade covering everything from the outdoors to small town politics. I joined OWAC in 2007.

 

 



This is Placer!

This video shows the wonders of Placer County, California. Breath-taking scenery, a rich history, year-round recreation – and Lake Tahoe – need we say more? Those are just a few of the reasons more than 360,000 people call Placer County home and hundreds of thousands more come to visit us each year. Our territory stretches from the Sacramento Valley all the way to North Lake Tahoe.