The Wilderness Land Trust Completes California's Sanhedrin Wilderness

The Wilderness Land Trust Completes California's Sanhedrin Wilderness

Nov. 28, 2011

A partnership of The Wilderness Land Trust and the Mendocino National Forest recently resulted in the acquisition and protection of the last two 40-acre private inholdings in the Sanhedrin Wilderness.  These properties are perched above Thomas Creek, a tributary to the Wild and Scenic Middle Eel River, hosting threatened steelhead trout in Northern California.  Part of one of the parcels had been previously logged, resulting in road access and a flat building site with gorgeous views of a classic California oak woodland valley.  They are now protected as wild forever preventing future logging and development that could have damaged Thomas Creek with sediment.  Prevention of future private uses completes and secures the surrounding 10,571 acres of the Sanhedrin Wilderness.


Sanhedrin Mountain forms one of the tallest peaks in the Mendocino National Forest, with views of the Pacific Ocean, the Bay Area and even Mount Shasta, far to the north.  The ancient forests in the Sanhedrin Wilderness provide critical habitat for the continued survival of the northern spotted owl, including nesting sites. The area also contains extensive meadows, oak woodlands, chaparral, and "serpentine barrens," places where the nutrient poor blue-green soil is so inhospitable to many plants that only specially adapted species can survive. As a result, the Sanhedrin Wilderness provides habitat for at least five rare and unique plant species, including the Anthony Peak lupine, which grows only in the Mendocino National Forest.  The newly added properties protect endangered species habitat and clean water in the now 10,651 acres of wilderness.


"Acquisition of the private parcels eliminates the fragmented ownership within the Sanhedrin, helping us better manage the public's wilderness," said Acting Mendocino National Forest Supervisor Lee Johnson.


“Easy access from the Bay Area and Sacramento provided the opportunity for development of a private retreat—instead steelhead trout, northern spotted owls, blue-bellied lizards and bucks will retain their homes here,” said Aimee Rutledge, California Program Manager.


“We are proud to complete the Sanhedrin Wilderness and secure this pristine forest for wildlife and future generations—ensuring that ‘man is a visitor and shall not remain’--a goal of the Wilderness Act,” said Reid Haughey, President.


Sanhedrin Wilderness

Designated in 2006, the Sanhedrin Wilderness now contains 10,651 acres with the addition of this latest acquisition.  It contains one of the highest peaks in the Mendocino National Forest, Sanhedrin Mountain (elevation 6,186 feet), named after the ancient Hebrew Supreme Council.  Its forests consist primarily of Shasta red fir, white fir, Jeffrey pine, sugar pine, ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir and incense cedar.  Drier slopes and less fertile soils support chaparral thickets and a variety of hardwoods, including madrone and black oak.  Serpentine soils support globally rare plant species, including one that only grows in the Mendocino National Forest—Anthony Peak lupine.  Reproduction of spotted owl and goshawk has been documented in the Sanhedrin.  Both Whitney and Thomas Creeks support resident trout and threatened steelhead.  Black bear, deer, and mountain lions are also residents of the Sanhedrin.  The only public access point for this area is by the lookout on Big Signal Peak at the end of Forest Road 20N04. From this location, visitors can enjoy off trail hunting, hiking, and camping activities.

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