section encompasses mountains, hills, valleys, and plains in the northern
California Coast Ranges and small parts of the Klamath mountains that are
close enough to the Pacific Ocean for the climate to be modified greatly
by marine influence. Summers are characterized by fog, cool temperatures,
and higher humidity than that inland. It is in MLRAs 4, 5, 14, and
Northern California Coast
Geomorphology. Parallel ranges, folded, faulted and metamorphosed
strata; rounded crests of subequal height. Coast Ranges Geomorphic
Lithology. Late Mesozoic eugeosynclinal rocks of the Franciscan
Formation, and shelf and slope sedimentary rocks.
Soil Taxa. Alfisols, Inceptisols, Mollisols, Spodosols
(Pygmy Forest), Ultisols and Vertisols in combination with isomesic, mesic
or thermic soil temperature regimes, and aquic, udic, ustic or xeric (moist
end of range) soil moisture regimes.
Vegetation. Predominant potential natural communities include
the Redwood series, Douglas-fir - tanoak series, Oregon white oak series,
Purple needlegrass series, Tanoak series and Coast live oak series.
The following series are found throughout the section and are
not restricted to, or extensive in any subsection. Series dominated by
exotic plants are not listed under subsections unless they are extensive
Series dominated by exotic plants: Broom series, Giant reed
series, Cheatgrass series, Eucalyptus series, Iceplant series, Kentucky
bluegrass series, Pampas grass series and Yellow bush lupine series north
of Sonoma County.
Fauna. Mammals include Roosevelt elk, black-tailed deer, black
bear, mountain lion, coyote, bobcat, raccoon, skunks, marten, fisher and
river otter. Birds include eagles, hawks, owls, peregrine falcon, osprey
and a variety shorebirds and waterfowl along the coastal part of the section.
Species of concern include marbled murrelet and northern spotted owl.
Streams and rivers are used by anadromous fish.
Series that can occur in all subsections, but are not extensive:
Bulrush series, Bulrush - cattail series, Burreed series, California oatgrass,
Cattail series, Common reed series, Creeping ryegrass series, Duckweed
series, Fen habitat, Idaho fescue series, Mosquito fern series, One-sided
bluegrass series, Pondweeds with floating leaves series, Pondweeds with
submerged leaves series, Sedge series, Spikerush series, Tufted hairgrass
series and Yellow pond-lily series.
Series dominated by willows restricted to riparian settings:
Arroyo willow series, Hooker willow series, Mixed willow series, Narrowleaf
willow series, Pacific willow series, Red willow series, Sandbar willow
series and Sitka willow series.
Disturbance series of short-lived vegetation: Blue blossom series,
Coyote bush series away from the coast, Deerbrush series, Eastwood manzanita
series, Red alder series away from the coast, Tobacco brush series and
Wedgeleaf ceanothus series.
Elevation. Sea level to 3,000 feet.
Precipitation. 20 to 120 inches.
Temperature. 40° to 60°F. Summer daytime
temperatures often modified by fog and sea breezes.
Growing Season. 225 to 310 days.
Surface Water Characteristics. Many slow or relatively
slow streams and rivers in alluvial and weak bedrock channels flowing directly
to the Pacific Ocean. Most terminate in tide affected brackish estuaries.
Fire: Historic occurrence is changing from frequent, low to
high intensity surface fires to infrequent, moderate to high intensity
stand replacing fires.
Land Use. Composition and successional sequence of some communities
(primarily grassland communities) has changed because of plant and animal
species introduced between the early 1800’s and early 1900’s related to
grazing and forestry. The southern part of the section, and some
of the northern part contains expanding urban areas.
Seismic Activity: Seismically active area with strong shaking
and ground rupture.
Flooding: Periodic flooding occurs along major drainages.
Landslides initiated by climatic, seismic and human events are common in
steep areas of the section.
Cultural Ecology. Humans have been utilizing the area for
some 8,000 to 10,000 years, and have been an integral part of north coast
ecology for some 2,000 to 3,000 years, thriving on the diversity of habitats
from ocean and estuary to forest, and intensively gathering numerous resources.
The variety of Northwest California ethnographic cultures is the most complex
in the United States, reflecting diverse prehistoric and historic uses,
practices, and human adaptations. The fur trade was a unique part
of northwest coast early history, and later lumbering and agriculture were
the main economy. Contemporary attitudes and beliefs are dichotomized
between emphasis on amenity/newcomer and commodity/long-time resident values,
but all overlain by a rural lifestyle, even in the trendy Marin headlands
north of San Francisco. The economy is diverse, ranging from San
Francisco Bay Area financial and entertainment industries to rural agriculture,
forestry and fishing; tourism and recreation are important industries.
Subsections. The Northern California Coast section is divided
into 13 subsections.
obtain information about a particular
subsection, click the subsection.