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Field Day - Plateau Forest, Shasta County, CA

Nov 5, 2021, 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Field Day - Plateau Forest, Shasta County, CA

Schedule of Events
Schedule subject to change

Registration – Meet at the Shingletown, Cal Fire Station, Highway 44

Travel One-Half Mile for Demonstration of Various Brush Cutters for Forest Maintenance

Travel Four Miles to Plateau Forest (no low clearance sedans)

11:00am – Stop #1
Compare Adjacent Untouched Forest to Managed Forest

11:45am – Lunch at Campsite
Bring Your Own Lunch

12:30pm – While Traveling to Stop #2
Notice North Side of Road: Masticated 10 years ago; pruned; and herbicides 8 years ago. Retreated again last year with chainsaw and additional pruning. Notice South Side of Road Where It Is Rocky: Thinned with chainsaw 10 years ago and herbicides 8 years. It now is ready to be reworked. View State Lands that were thinned 25 years ago and accidentally burnt from an escaped burn pile. Plateau Forest was last logged in 2017 and 2018.

12:45pm – At Stop #2
Compare area treated two years ago with thinning and pruning and fuels removal with a bladed dozer and adjacent area to be treated next. To be discussed here is: should prescribed fire be use here? Also illustrating the building and maintaining of fire breaks. Discussion about California Forest Improvement Program (CFIP)

1:30pm – Travel to Stop #3
Plantation is 42 years old and various treatments to get here, including prescribed fire and fuels treatments; herbicide treated area.

History – From 1975 to 2021
Dennis and June Bebensee and Richard and Cathleen Schoenheide became business partners and forest landowners in 1975. They purchased 383 acres in Shingletown in an area historically known as Plateau. They purchased the land with the desire to manage and invest in their own forested property, and to have something to work on after retirement. They had three major goals for their land: to grow the healthiest and most productive forest possible, to leave a legacy for their descendants, and to enhance wildlife and water quality.

This forested property is located immediately above brushy foothills and consisted of very dense forest and several scattered brush fields. The trees in the forest had heavy limbs all the way to the ground; primarily because it was the result of an open grown and natural regeneration after a 1932 wild fire. This combination constituted a severe fire hazard, which would need to be addressed. The forest is a mixed conifer stand consisting primarily of ponderosa pine and incense cedar, and is currently about 89 years old. Other species include Douglas fir, sugar pine, and black oak. Most of the tract is relatively flat, with only about 15% consisting of either extremely steep topography, or non-productive forest land. The North Fork of Battle Creek is the only major stream flowing through the property, however, it is difficult to access because of cliffs and steep topography. This stream zone has been, and will continue to be, unlogged, and maintained as a wildlife and recreation area.

This timberland tract was first settled in approximately 1890, with several scattered homesteads. A hand-dug and mile-long canal, provided water. Timber harvesting began with the help of a hydraulic sawmill and a newly developed steam-powered tractor. Land was also cleared to allow cattle grazing. Between 1890 and 1910, the tract suffered a large number of devastating wildfires. By 1911, all homesteads were abandoned, and the water rights were sold off. The last major wildfire took place in 1932, leaving much of the parcel barren. Some logging was done in 1948, taking the remaining merchantable timber.

Dennis and Richard first cleared a brush field that was located on the lower edge of the timberland and this was planted in trees and a fuel break was established. In other parts of the forest, a few Sierra redwoods and white fir seedlings were planted. The cost share programs available through the Soil Conservation Service [presently known as the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS)] and the California Forest Improvement Program (CFIP) were a major help in transforming this property into a major success and relatively safe from catastrophic wildfire. The trees planted in the cleared brush field will be ready for a commercial thinning in another 10 or 15 years.
Timber harvesting also began in 1976. At this time, one third of the volume was removed, primarily consisting of poor quality trees. The remaining understory is now a well-spaced timber stand. An NTMP, approved by the CDF in 1994, ensures the sustainability of the tract. Timber harvests also occurred in 1995, 2006, 2017 and 2018. Each harvest took about 15% of the volume, still taking lesser quality trees, and providing better spacing. In addition, there has been periodical salvage operation as needed and mainly due to recent drought conditions and bark beetles.

Pre-commercial thinning has taken place four times throughout the same piece of ground and throughout the entire tract, except on steep slopes. Pruning has become a follow-up practice. The owners purchased a masticator in 2010 to thin the trees and chip the slash and pruned limbs. The masticator was sold in 2016 as most of the property had been masticated. For fire suppression, a minor amount of piling and burning has been done in key project areas. Prescribed burns were conducted in 2013 and 2014, but this tool has been difficult to obtain the correct burning conditions for a safe and effective burn.

In 2016 and 2017 there was a major bark beetle infestation on the property and surrounding properties. About 100,000 board feet was totally lost to beetles, while we salvaged one million board feet during these same two years. In 2019, we thinned and pruned 10 acres on the north side of Ponderosa Way. Maintenance of fuel breaks has been done annually (but across different portions) to keep ahead of the re-growth, and now fire breaks are annually maintained along most of the property boundaries. In 2021 a 10’ x 12’ cabin was built.

The timber stand in 1975 had an average volume of 9,000 board feet per acre; but this same stand now averages 18,000 board feet. The owners hope to increase and sustain this to about 25,000 board feet. In 1982, the two couples were named Tree Farmers of the Year. Throughout the years, the owners’ children and grandchildren have actively participated in the care of the property. The families are in the process of succession planning so that future generations can reap the rewards of tree farming.


Shasta County
United States

Contact Information

Registration Form [pdf]

Cost/Online Registration

Registration closed at 5:00pm on November 2.
Call the FLC office with questions: 877-326-3778
Members: $25
Nonmembers: $35

Where to Meet
More specific directions will be sent by email to registered attendees a few days before the Field Day. The plan is to meet at the Shingletown, Cal Fire Station, on Highway 44.

Health Protocols
We will follow state and local jurisdiction mandates and requirements related to COVID. The FLC liability wavier is being updated to include release of liability related to COVID or other infectious diseases. We will include more details about health protocols in the confirmation email to registered attendees.

Please bring your own lunch and beverage.

Lodging Information

There are various hotel options in Redding or camping through KOA. Specific directions will be provided to registrants.