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Chapter 3 -- History of the Smith River Watershed

Paleoclimate

Studies of ancient pollen deposits indicate that 10,000 years ago the Smith River region was cooler and wetter than today. About 8000 to 7,000 years ago, cool wet conditions gave way to a hotter and drier climate. Due to drier conditions, drought-resistant plant communities including oak savanna and oak woodlands increased in range. About 4000 to 2300 years ago the climate became wetter and cooler, similar to the present climate. Consequently oak savannas and oak woodland communities were less favored and decreased in range. As the climate cooled and oak woodlands retreated to drier areas, several remaining stands of Oregon white oak (Quercus garryana) became isolated from other oak populations. Remnant stands of Oregon oak are found at Big Flat, Sourdough Camp on the North Fork, Gasquet Flat, and Pappas Flat (north bank, across from Gasquet Flat) (McCain et al. 1995, Popenoe et al. 1992).

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