|About the Site|
|Redwood National Park|
The eastern, inland section of the park is bordered by the Coast Range of mountains. The Bald Hills, foothills of the coastal mountains, are found in the southern section of the park, east of and above Redwood Creek as it runs in a north south direction. They feature prairie and oak woodlands.
It is not understood completely why these prairies occur among the heavily wooded areas which surround them. However, it is known that the Chilula Indians burned these areas on purpose to preserve the open environment to make collection of food, such as acorns, hazelnuts, and other food plants easier. It also served to clear the land, and enhance the growth of food for the game on which they depended, such as elk and deer. Browsing elk also supressed the growth of young trees. Currently, park personnel conduct controlled burns to maintain the prairies against incursion from the woodlands.
At the higher altitudes oak trees border the prairie, but coniferous forests exist only below the fog line. Fire supression over the last 150 years has allowed Douglas fir to invade the prairies and meadows.
In Redwood National Park officials have practiced the policy of suppression of natural fires, although park staff intentionally burn about 4300 acres of prairie and oak woodland annually in an effort to approximate the burning done by native Americans before 1850. The open grasslands of the Bald Hills host bobcat, coyote, and even mountain lion.
Dolason Trail, the trailhead of which is next to Bald Hills Road, leads down across the grasslands toward the Tall Trees Grove. A trail directional sign is visible in the picture below. These prairies feature 30 different species of grasses, as well as abundant varieties of wildflowers.
Humans have inhabited this area for many years. Indian sites which have been uncovered date back 4500 years. In the early years of white settlement the Lyons family raised sheep in this area.
Oak trees--Oregon white oak and California black oak--grow along the periphery of the grassy meadows. Oak trees provided abundant amounts of acorns to the Indians, a staple of their diet.
Bald Hills Road continues south and east out of the park. A little ways past the parking lot for the Lady Bird Johnson Grove the pavement ends, and the road is covered with gravel, as can be seen below. This view of the road shows Schoolhouse Peak and with Schoolhouse Prairie below it.
Schoolhouse Peak, at 3,092 feet, is the highest point in Redwood National Park.
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