Station 12: Forest Habitat
The vegetation in this area is typical of most of the area you have hiked through thus far. This south-facing slope of Mineral Ridge is considered a Douglas-fir habitat type, meaning that Douglas-fir is the climax tree species in this area. However, you have seen quite a few ponderosa pine as well. Ponderosa pine will not germinate or grow well in shade. Although the tree grows best in relatively moist, but well-drained soils, it can tolerate dry, shallow, rocky soils. Here the soil is somewhat dry and shallow, suitable for pine but also moist enough to support Douglas-fir. Eventually, the ponderosa pine will be replaced by more shade-tolerant Douglas-fir. Because the soil is shallow, it’s important that you stay on the trail. Remember the extensive damage that trailing and erosion cause. If you left the main trail, look back at the route you took. Is the vegetation trampled? Is the ground bare? Will the trail that you took drain water quickly, or will it act as a channel? Did you help prevent erosion or did you worsen the problem?