The following 24 publications substitute for the lack of a single comprehensive treatment of the forests of the San Juans. They comprise the essential reading list for anyone who is seriously interested in learning about the distinctive terrestrial ecosystem of the San Juans. Some judgment is required in applying the content to our local situation.
Each entry in this bibliography is linked to a blurb that sketches its contents and applicability.
(click on each "blurb" for a brief description)
(1995). San Juan Islands Wildlife. A Handbook for Exploring Nature.
The Mountaineers, Seattle. 251 pp. blurb
S. and F. Sharpe (1993). Wild Plants of the San Juan Islands.
The Mountaineers, Seattle. 191 pp. blurb
R. and S. Cannings (1996). British Columbia. A Natural History.
Greystone Books, Vancouver. 310 pp. blurb
Department of Natural Resources (1983). State Soil Survey. Report for the Northwest Region. Washington DNR, Forest Land Management Division, Olympia. ~100 pp. (A version, abridged and customized for San Juan County by Tom Schroeder, 1999, is available in Lopez, Orcas and San Juan Island Libraries). blurb
Downen, M. (1996). Environmental History and Ecology of the San Juan Archipelago. Senior thesis, Huxley College, Western Washington University, Bellingham. 60 pp. blurb
Franklin, J.F. and C.T. Dyrness (1988). Natural Vegetation of Oregon and Washington. University of Oregon Press, Salem. 313 pp. blurb
Office. (1874). Field Notes of the Survey of the External Subdivisions
and Meander Lines for San Juan County, Washington. 339 pp. (A typed transcript of
an official manuscript copy is available at San Juan County Department
of Public Works). blurb
(1997). Balancing Act: Environmental Issues in Forestry. UBC
Press, Vancouver. 305 pp. blurb
Kruckeberg, A.R. (1991). The Natural History of Puget Sound County. University of Washington Press, Seattle. 468 pp. blurb
Loomis, R. (with Merv Wilkinson) (1995). Wildwood. A Forest for the Future. Reflections, Gabriola, BC. 55 pp. blurb
D. and J. Pojar, editors (1991). Ecosystems of British Columbia.
BC Ministry of Forests, Victoria, BC. 330 pp. blurb
Pojar, J. and A. MacKinnon, editors (1994). Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Lone Pine Publishing, Redmond, WA. 526 pp. blurb
Schlots, F.E. et al. (1962) Soil Survey of San Juan County. USDA/SCS, Washington, DC. 73 pp. blurb
The Nature Conservancy (1975). San Juan County, Washington. Inventory of Natural Areas on Private Property. NW Office of The Nature Conservancy with Planning Department of San Juan County. 96 pp. blurb
(1980). Land Use, Environment, and Social Change. The Shaping
of Island County, Washington. University of Washington Press,
Seattle. 234 pp. blurb
Despite its title, this joyful natural-history excursion showcases Fidalgo, Guemes, and Cypress Islands (close to Adams' home base of Anacortes) while touching only incidentally on the islands of San Juan County. The book connects the reader with the principal vertebrates, invertebrates, and major plant communities, yet it sheds little light on the distinctive character or management requirements of our forests.
This technical report identifies the principal forest communities that presently exist within the two portions of the park, English Camp and American Camp. Species and age compositions are described and then related to environmental conditions, rabbit herbivory, landuse history, and fire. Suggestions for management are offered.
The study complements the author's earlier reports on the conditions of historic landscapes in the park during the 1860s (CPSU/UW 1984) and a vegetation management plan for the park (Rolph and Agee, CPSU/UW 1993).
This book emphasizes wildflowers, ferns and other small plants while treating forest conditions as settings in which to find some of them. The cursory breakdown of major habitats documents local variability: meadows, rocky outcrops, open woodlands, dry coniferous forests, moist mixed woodland, disturbed forestland, shorelines, and Mt. Constitution. The authors capture the uniqueness of our flora by listing those plants of the San Juans that are unusual elsewhere in westside Washington yet are common east of the Cascades (Garry oak, Rocky Mountain juniper, soopalallie, prickly pear cactus, Labrador-tea and even lodgepole pine) and by pointing out several typical "northwest" plants that are totally or largely missing here (rhododendron, vine maple, honeysuckle, hazel, dogwood, trillium, and cascara).
Atterbury Consultants, Inc. (1990). A Compilation of Yield Tables for Northwest Species. Published privately. 255 pp.
This technical publication compiles growth and yield data by tree species and site productivity. For San Juan County forests it is important to select the relevant tables for our low-productivity sites, e.g. Douglas-fir tables for 50-yr site index 95 (p. 39) or 100-yr site index 120 (p. 103). These tables predict height and diameter of dominant trees and stand basal area, trees per acre, and timber volume of stands as a function of age (20 to 90 years). Similar tables are included for western hemlock, red alder and lodgepole pine.
Boyd, R., editor (1999). Indians, Fire and the Land in the Pacific Northwest. Oregon State University Press, Corvallis. 313 pp.
Fourteen chapters lay out story after vivid story of the intentional and usually intelligent use of landscape fires by indigenous peoples. Intentional ignitions maintained cropland, thinned out forests, shifted species compositions in forests and scrubland, and cleared trails. Indian culture prior to white settlement was itself shaped by the use of landscape fire as a way of "designing" resource lands. Anyone who thinks that pre-settlement forests in this region were altogether "natural and pristine" needs to read this book.
Bushman, D.O. (1949). The Geography of Orcas Island. Thesis, University of Washington, Seattle. 89 pp.
A subdiscipline of geography that resembles environmental history could be called historical geography. This thesis approaches its topic from a strong historical perspective, which is invaluable in the San Juans where local history is so poorly preserved. After outlining the physical environment of the island (topography, hyrography, climate, vegetation, and soils) this report examines three case-study farms in detail: a "first-class" full-time farm, a hobby or "gentleman" farm, and a part-time farm. It concludes that "the agriculture picture does not look too bright." After briefly analysing other economic activities such as fishing, logging and mining, this report concludes that "the vacation trade will not decrease" and "the number of summer homes is steadily increasing."
Camp, O. (1984). The Forest Farmer's Handbook. A Guide to Natural Selection Forest Management. Sky Dive Press, Ashland, Oregon. 69 pp.
The author's personal experience as owner and manager of a quarter section of Oregon forestland is organized as a manual filled with principles and advice for sane and sustainable forestry. Camp encourages active work in forests, but cautions that the work needs to be directed appropriately within the biological functions of the forest. One of the primary practical principles is always to cut out those trees in a stand that have fallen behind the more successful dominants, while leaving the dominants to prosper even more dramatically. This guide is very informative and easy to read.
Cannings, R. and S. Cannings (1996). British Columbia. A Natural History. Greystone Books, Vancouver. 310 pp.
This lovingly written and illustrated book complements Kruckeberg's (below) in capturing the wonderful diversity of natural settings in the region. The coastal Douglas-fir bioregion, which includes the San Juans even if the islands reside politically outside of the Canadian province, is described on pp. 146-149 and iscontrasted to other distinctive parts of British Columbia.
Collins, D. (1996). The Rate of Timber Harvest in Washington State: 1988-1991 Report 1. Washington Department of Natural Resources, Olympia. Also see Report 2 for 1991-1993.
blurb due soon
Department of Natural Resources (1983). State Soil Survey. Report for the Northwest Region. Washington DNR, Forest Land Management Division, Olympia. ~100 pp. (Version abridged and customized for San Juan County by Tom Schroeder, 1999, available in Lopez, Orcas and San Juan Island Libraries).
There are more than one thousand soil types in Washington state and 64 in San Juan County. complete blurb due soon
blurb due soon
Franklin, J.F. and C.T. Dyrness (1988). Natural Vegetation of Oregon and Washington. University of Oregon Press, Salem. 313 pp.
This work is considered a classic for describing the distinctive features of other forest types in the broader region. Chapter IV (pp. 53-58) deals with forest zones in western Washington and Northwestern Oregon and the general observations are fundamental to any understanding of the nearby forests. The distinctive forests of the San Juan Islands specifically, however, are mentioned only on the very last page, which underscores their anomalous nature.
blurb due soon
Goss, T.R. (1995). The Landscape History of Moran State Park. Thesis, University of Washington, Seattle. 125 pp.
Historical details of many local landscape history in San Juan County have been lost. This master's thesis successfully opens the lid on the story of the 5000-acre Moran State Park on Orcas Island, and it considers today's features as products of historical change. Six key components of the park are recognized: forests, meadows, views, water, fauna, and human developments. Because of altered patterns of use and maintenance, some of these components are changing for the worse: forests are becoming over stocked; combustibles are accumulating; meadows are succumbing to forest encroachment (some have shrunk by half in 50 years); views are being eliminated by vegetation growth; exotic species are increasing. These changes indicate ecological disequilibrium.
Through discovery and analysis Goss establishes that the park's landscape is far from entirely natural. It is, he says, a "cultivated landscape," and this assessment has lessons for other areas of San Juan County. People have substantially altered natural processes in settings such as Moran SP by suppressing fires (thus altering vegetation patterns), eliminating predatory mammals (thus encouraging herbivores), manipulating hydrologic systems (both draining and damming wetlands), evicting native people, promoting large numbers of recreation-oriented visitors, and extracting natural resources without intentional restoration.
Looking beyond analysis, the author advocates more enlightened and active park management. He says, "The idea of leaving natural parks to evolve according to natural process alone does not work in landscapes whose processes have been altered by people." The same might be said for most landscapes in the San Juans.
Kimmins, H. (1997). Balancing Act: Environmental Issues in Forestry. UBC Press, Vancouver. 305 pp.
This profoundly wise treatise thoroughly covers the broad range of forest and forestry topics. It establishes the point that interacting with a complex ecosystem for the purpose of extracting one product is fraught with unexpected consequences, mostly negative.
Klinka, K. , V.J. Krajina, A. Ceska, and A.M. Scagel (1989). Indicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia. University of British Columbia Press, Vancouver.
This odd but informative document classifies terrestrial sites by the native plants that occupy them. Four hundred nineteen plant species, mostly forest plants, are used as gauges of site quality as regards climate, surface materials, temperature, soil-moisture availability, and soil nutrients. Every site is further defined by physical factors that then explain and determine its vegetation potential. For example, in terms of soil moisture, San Juan County sites include: exc. dry-very dry; very-mod. dry; mod. dry-fresh soils; very moist-wet soils; and wet-very wet soils. Aliases for these sites, as defined by indicator plant groups, are: lichens; Hooker's onion; dull Oregon grape; salmonberry; and skunk cabbage. Some of these groups contain more than 20 indicator species.
The flyleaf of this essential volume expresses its content well: "... a comprehensive reference, invaluable to all citizens of the Northwest, as well as for conservationists, biologists, foresters, fisheries and wildlife personnel, urban planners, and environmental consultants everywhere. Lavishly illustrated with over three hundred photographs and drawings, it is much more than a beautiful book. It is guide for our future."
This slender book outlines the principles and practices applied to a working forest on the coastal lowlands near Nanaimo, Vancouver Island. Wilkinson has enjoyed some cult-like celebrity for logging his 138-acre forest in a careful, sustainable way for over 60 years, and for vigorously opposing standard industrial logging practices.
After several cycles of logging about five years apart, Wilkinson's hired crew has removed more than a million board feet, yet the standing volume in 1938 (about 1.5 million board feet) is still the same, thanks to growth. The forest is still intact and healthy, and Wilkinson has enjoyed a supplemental income. The trees selected for removal include the strugglers, the accidentally deformed, and any others that have lost their vigor, including occasional ancient trees.
Some readers in the dry San Juans have over-interpreted Wilkinson's messages; some have failed to realize that the Wildwood forests, although not far from here geographically, are much more prosperous and productive than any forests in the San Juans, thanks to twice the rainfall and far superior soil hydrology. High site productivity is confirmed when Wilkinson makes mention of skunk cabbage, absence of any fire scarring, the low-lying lakeside environs, and 120-feet tall suppressed trees (compared to our dominants that rarely reach that height) ; each of these references testifies to exceptional growing conditions. Furthermore, Wildwood's forest still contains numerous old-growth specimens exceeding 1500 years of age; nothing comparable exists here in the San Juans. So readers should approach the content of this work with caution and discrimination.
This technical publication from Canada incidentally offers some of the most enlightening analysis of the forests of our San Juans. The work arises from the deep tradition in British Columbia of rigorously classifying ecosystems with reference to distinguishing features of vegetation, geography and climate (the Biogeoclimatic Ecosystem Classification). Of the 15 ecozones that are identified and characterized, two zones occur here: the Coastal Douglas-fir Zone (the majority of the San Juans) and the Coastal Western Hemlock Zone (restricted to the lee slopes of Mt. Constitution). These 30 pages encapsulate much of what is distinctive and diagnostic about our forests.
The singular value of the chapter on the Coastal Douglas-fir Zone is magnified by the fact that US classification schemes of Pacific Northwest forests all but ignore our distinctive forests in thge San Juans (see Franklin and Dyrness, above), presumably because they are negligible in scope and commercial value.
Oliver, C.D. and B.C. Larson (1996). Forest Stand Dynamics. John Wiley & Sons, New York. 520 pp.
Growth of individual trees is mysterious enough, but this book describes in great technical detail the complexities of stand development and function. The principles of stand behavior over long spans of time offer profound insights into the mechanisms that operate in a changing natural ecosystem. At the end of each chapter is a section entitled "Application to Management," which betrays one of the themes of this work: timber productivity. Purist tree-huggers might find this approach objectionable, but real-world forestry includes ti mber exploitation. This book lays out the scientific and technical basis for harmonizing the needs of the forest ecosystem with the needs of the human society that is increasingly in charge of its fate.
Pojar, J. and A. MacKinnon, editors (1994). Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Lone Pine Publishing, Redmond, WA. 526 pp.
Simply stated, this volume is the essential reference for plant identification and basic information for our region. It offers easy access to identities through photographs and critically informative text. Accessory details about ecological and cultural properties of local plants make this guide a rich reading experience. The 26-page introduction is a masterful essay on the region.
Schlots, F.E. et al. (1962) Soil Survey of San Juan County. USDA/SCS, Washington, DC. 73 pp.
Although out-of-print and out-of-date, this fundamental report identifies and maps all 64 soil types in San Juan County and specifies their potential for agricultural or forestry. Despite its valuable content, this technical document is difficult to read and to interpret; it is not "user friendly." Nevetheless, half of the bulk of this soil survey is an irreplaceable set of 1:20,000 aerial photographs taken in 1946; they reveal the extent and quality of the landcover at a point halfway between original settlement and the present. A new and undated soil survey for San Juan County will be completed within the next few years.
This competent document identifies numerous upland areas of notable scenic and natural value. First it lists and briefly describes nearly 50 such specific sites around the county. It then summarizes the characteristics of nine generalized sites such as Open Grasslands, Closed Coniferous Forest, Spruce Bogs, etc.
White, R. (1980). Land Use, Environment, and Social Change. The Shaping of Island County, Washington. University of Washington Press, Seattle. 234 pp.
This landmark in environmental history analyzes the dramatic interactions between people and the natural environment, including the forest landcover, in our neighboring Island County. This gripping story of "development" on Whidbey and Camano Islands captures the natural and human forces that shaped so much of the Puget Lowland. But, ironically, the account hardly applies to the San Juans.
Instead of characterizing events
in our islands, this otherwise invaluable book dramatizes how
unique the San Juan story is. While reading White's book, consider
the following distinctions: a) the San Juans Islands (which are
so dominated by glacier-scoured bedrock and clayey soils) are
radically different in geology, hydrology, and land ecology from
other Puget Sound islands (which are glacial deposits of sand
and gravel), including those of Island County; b) civilian settlement
in the San Juans lagged behind settlement of surrounding areas
by about 25 years due to a protracted boundary dispute, and during
those crucial years economic investments in industrial-scale
logging, milling, and shipping became solidified elsewhere; and
c) even when the San Juans were made available for economic development
many unique features spared our forests from the highly capitalized,
industrial-scale logging that occurred elsewhere; our forests
were largely avoided due to inadequate moorage, imperfect timber,
exposed sea lanes, absence of rivers to provide access to upland