Member Spotlight

Jo Barrington – The Last 40

(December 2016)

This property first came into our family through my great-grandmother, Bessie (née Gillmore) Halliday, born in Manchester, just north of Point Arena, in 1882. She purchased the property in 1947. In 1977, Bessie passed away and the property passed to her son, Joe Halliday. I’m his great-niece and inherited the property in 2006, but before he passed away, he asked that I join Forest Landowners of California.

The property is located in the beautiful Coast Range of Mendocino County on the east slope of the Garcia River canyon. The first survey of the area in 1867 showed large blank areas explained as: “rough, broken, brushy, impracticable to survey.”  By 1869, a completed survey had been filed, but some of the quarter/quarter sections have turned out to be less, and in my case only 37.5 acres. It is steeply sloped to the south and dramatic and beautiful. The forest contains tall burnt redwood stumps, large downed logs, soaring redwood, sugar pine, Douglas-fir, beautiful madrone and lots of tanoak. Douglas-fir and tanoak continue to sprout like weeds. The wind is one of the constant features and ever-changing from whispering to roaring. When the fog lifts high enough, ghostly curtains and veils sweep through the forest.

Recently I’ve seen a very large flock (>60+) of band-tailed pigeons foraging through the forest, as well as turkeys, deer, gray squirrels, skunks and bats. No doubt this is also cougar range, but I have not yet captured one with my wildlife camera. In the recent past, there has been boar activity on the property, and also a report of a bear nearby (also not yet on my camera). One thing there is plenty of is mosquitos all spring and summer.
At some point during these past 10 years of attendance at FLC events, I began to see the forest differently. Eventually, what had appeared as luxuriant growth became overstocked and fuel loaded. The tall shady woodland areas suggested future shaded fuel breaks. The majestic old tanoaks became invaders of conifer forestland. The lupine, manzanita, huckleberries and other brush—ladder fuels! 

My property is completely surrounded by Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC), which enhances the park-like setting. It is interesting to observe MRC’s treatment of their forestland as I look forward to a more active role in my forestland. MRC has been helpful with advice and in locating my property boundaries, including a corner deep in a ravine that I had sought twice on my own without success. That place is now appropriately nicknamed “Hell.”  Twenty minutes down to the narrowest, darkest, slipperiest, boulder and log choked creek, and ninety minutes back!

Family members who passed away before my time made the pilgrimage to The Last 40 to walk the old logging road that runs out to the side of the canyon. Four had their ashes scattered there. Below, the fog can be seen moving up and down the river and over the forested ridges. These days, my grandchildren enjoy that same inspiring walk and those same lovely trees.