Fred Euphrat is a registered professional forester and SRJC professor with a passion for environmental stewardship, and he’s played a critical role in developing a forest management plan for Pepperwood. Learn more about Fred and his work with Pepperwood in his own words below.
Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background. What made you decide to get into forestry?
I got into forestry because land management is critical to the terrestrial portion of the planet. Forests cover one-third to one-half of the Earth’s dry. That’s a huge percentage of Earth that foresters control how it’s managed – roads and streams, fire and trees. I was a physical geographer and geomorphologist, working for the California Department of Forestry. I became a because people who control the bulldozers shape the land for the next 10,000 years.
What is your role in the development of Pepperwood’s forest management plan? What has the process involved?
I am the principal author of Pepperwood’s Forest Management Plan. My role is as the registered professional forester. To start the process, what I did was look at previous forest studies and historical forest/archeological studies. Then I combined the information, identified missing pieces, and initiated a new forestry study to fill in the gaps. We looked at stands that had not been observed previously and took new measurements including standing volume and merchantability [the latter for reference in Pepperwood’s case].
What is the key outcome you hope Pepperwood’s forest management plan will accomplish?
I look forward to it creating avenues for government funding assistance for Pepperwood’s road and water systems, its meadows, and its forests.
What is a challenge you commonly face in developing management plans? What is a frequently enjoyable aspect?
Creating the right plan to fit the right property and having it work within the government guidelines [so they are compatible with funding opportunities] can be challenging. The real joy is having land owners learn their properties anew, through the eyes of the forester. We see more than other people in terms of looking at the land, archeology, usage – and we often find things like signs of trespass, more or less trees than anticipated, rare plants, or archeological sites. We find a lot of secret places.
How will properly managed forest land benefit Pepperwood? Are there benefits to the community?
It will enhance the meadows, reduce the fire danger, and increase carbon sequestration in trees that we want [well spaced Douglas fir vs. dog-hair thickets – densely packed small trees]. Plans include removing certain trees, prescribed burning, managing the roads, and improving the water system. The work at Pepperwood will also benefit the community as a model for forest and range management. It’s unusual, because at Pepperwood we’re managing for the oaks and hardwoods, while most other forests manage for commercial timber. We’re managing for Pepperwood’s education program, and optimal wildlife habitat.
What are some of the more interesting or surprising things you have seen or learned at Pepperwood?
The most interesting thing I’ve found is there is a whole community of people who work at Pepperwood – volunteers, Stewards, and staff – who are always there to help. Working there comes with a built in, dedicated crew of bright people. I’ve been able to teach forestry and learn from the Stewards, and have also seen some amazing sights. I had a close encounter with a wild pig, and saw the most intense Douglas fir invasion I’ve ever seen, and also observed many examples of where a tiny bit of work removing Douglas-fir will help oaks for a very long time. I’ve seen more opportunity and a new perspective in the completely nontraditional way Pepperwood is approaching management that is changing way I look at forests and interact with resources.
Because of how Pepperwood has been managed in the past, it’s truly a unique place. The science and educational programs create something that is rare and I’m so honored to work there with such dedicated staff and volunteers.