Deer Creek Bridges – Elevations & History

From the highest elevation to lowest, here are views of bridges crossing Deer Creek along with some history.

Boulder Street Bridge, Nevada City – Elevation 2,512′ 

(Near Lefty’s Grill & the Stone House)

Pine Street Bridge, Nevada City – Elevation 2,445′

 

Tribute Trail  – Angkula Seo  Suspension Bridge – Elevation 2,400′

(built by Seattle Bridge LLC)

Tribute Trail – Chinese Tribute Bridge  – Stocking Flat (Champion Mine) – Elevation 2,247′

Bitney Springs – Cotton Brothers Bridge – Elevation 2,010′

 

“NEVADA CITY, CAL –  Cotton Bros. & Co, Oakland, CAL were awarded a contract April 14 by the county supervisors for constructing the following bridges; steel bridge over Deer Creek, $2,248.” – Engineering News and American Railway Journal, Volume 39, April 28, 1898, pg. 145

“The Cotton Brothers and Company was an important California based bridge builder of metal truss bridges in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. They built several bridges in Nevada County during the 1890’s, including the Purdon Bridge.” – Historic American Building Survey, National Park Service – Wolf Creek Bridge PDF

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Resources:

American Bridge Building Companies PDF

Bridgehunter.com – Cotton Brothers Bridges

Bear Yuba Land Trust – Deer Creek Environs Trail

Historic American Building Survey, National Park Service – Wolf Creek Bridge PDF

Installation of Chinese Tribute Bridge (Champion Mine area).

The Sierra Fund – Deer Creek Tribute Trail

South Yuba River State Park – California Bridges – Purdon Bridge

Titus Davis, Loadstone Drone

Tribute Trail Building

The Union – Through the years: Deer Creek’s many bridges

Crayfish – Aquatic Groundskeepers

Young crayfish on Deer Creek, August 2019

Crayfish are freshwater crustaceans related to shrimp, lobster, and crabs. They’re all decapods—having ten legs.

Fossil records show crayfish have been in North America for millions of years.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the native range for the Signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) is the Columbia River’s lower estuary. The range goes northwest and through tributaries that reach into British Columbia, Washington, Idaho, and Oregon.

Historical records say crayfish were first introduced to the Truckee River and Lake Tahoe sometime between 1895 and 1909. They were placed there for fish food, bait, and human consumption. Crayfish are currently planted in ponds and on fish farms to control aquatic weeds.

Habitat:

Crayfish live in a variety of freshwater environments from backwater pools to large rivers, streams. and subalpine lakes. Favorite places include hiding among rocks and in stands of partially submerged plants.  They are temperature and pH-sensitive.

Diet:

Anything and everything…

  • rotting leaves and twigs
  • animals and insects (younger crayfish are most attracted to these)
  • dead fish
  • live plants and algae (older crayfish are most attracted to these)
  • other crayfish (large crayfish are most likely to cannibalize other crayfish)

Behavior:

Crayfish breathe through gills. They can survive on land as long as gills remain moist. In water, gills also collect small food particles.

Most activity and feeding occurs at night.

Crayfish have two sets of antennae, one set for touch and the other for smell.

Defense:

Body armor—or the exoskeleton—is a crayfish’s main defense, though pincers are also used for battle.

The exoskeleton is made up of calcium carbonate (limestone), taken from the water. It builds up in layers. When the animal grows, it sheds its exoskeleton. At this time, it is at its most vulnerable until the new exoskeleton hardens.

Molting occurs most often as young grow to adulthood. Once crayfish are fully grown molting only happens a few times per year.

Crayfish have the ability to regrow claws if they are lost. Claws are also used for eating and mating.

Breeding:

Photo Credit: David Perez

Depending on food availability and water temperature, breeding can begin between three to six months of age. Mating usually occurs in the spring and summer months.

Mothers can hold sperm until conditions for egg-laying are right, usually in fall.

Females lay somewhere between 200 – 400 eggs. These are attached to her swimmerets under her tail. Young remain with their mother through several molts. As they grow, they separate somewhat, staying attached by thread-like tethers. Once fully separated, the mother secretes a pheromone that keeps the young close for protection.

Lifespan:

Average is about 3 years. In captivity, some have lived up to twenty years.

Predators:

Photo credit: Andrea Westmorland

Anything living in or near the water.

  • fish
  • birds
  • turtles
  • otters
  • raccoons
  • bullfrogs
  • coyote
  • humans

Crayfish Consumption in the West:

Washington, Oregon, and the Sacramento Delta are the main crayfish food consuming areas on the west coast. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, over ten-thousand pounds of Signal Crayfish were taken out of the Sacramento Delta in 2018.

Dangers to Crayfish:

  • pollution
  • fertilizers
  • pesticides
  • oil or fuel
  • dams
  • changing land use activities that alter water flows
  • silt loads

Crayfish Species Where They Don’t Belong (Shipping Crayfish to Classrooms):

Carriers of a Plague Organism:

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, “crayfish plague, caused by the fungus-like organism Aphanomyces astaci Schikora, is listed in the top 100 of the “World’s Worst” invaders by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.”

Like the Asian Ladybug, Signal crayfish can live in a balanced host-parasitic relationship. If they are brought into places where that balance hasn’t been established, ecosystem havoc can result.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Recommends Eating Some Invasive Species

 

To catch crayfish you’ll need;

 

 

Invasive Eats (California Specific)| Eat the Invaders | Invasivore

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If you enjoyed this post, check out Invasive Species Choke Natives & California’s Floristic Provence.

Resources:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife – California Invasive Species Action Week

click on image to open the newsletter

National Park Service – The impact of introduced crayfish on a unique population of salamander in Crater Lake, Oregon 

USGS – Pacifastacus leniusculus (Signal Crayfish) fact sheet


Wikipedia  – Pacifastacus fortis. California’s only native crayfish.

Apparel – Love your Creek

 

Nevada County love your watershed, love your home, inspire conversations!

Buy locally themed art & apparel.

 

 

visit  Life on the Creek Store

Five dollars from every sale helps fund the documentary project.

 

Singing Coyote – the Ultimate Adapter

Coyote is the Most Vocal North American Land Mammal

Canis latrans, the coyote’s scientific name, means ‘barking dog.’

Between 11-13 vocalization have been identified. Wildlife biologists have categorized several sound types;

Combative & alarm – barks, woofs, growls, huffs, bark howls, yelps, and high-pitched whimpers

The lone howl, the most recognized coyote vocalization, is thought to be a proclamation by an individual coyote separated from its pack.

Contact & Greeting – ‘Wow-oo-wow’ appears to be a “greeting song” when two or more pack members reunite. Group yips are thought to be a response to the lone howl.

The coyote is North America’s oldest indigenous species

Originating near Yellowstone three million years ago, this medium-sized canine is extremely adaptable and intelligent. They’ve settled into every wild, rural and urban corner of the North American continent.

Unlike other species that were extinguished by eradication efforts, Coyotes create replacement populations when their numbers are reduced.

Coyote experts suggest that it’s easier to train coyotes and people to coexist rather than launching hunting campaigns. Killing coyotes opens more territory for roaming individuals to claim.

Breeding

Breeding season is February through March. Coyotes are monogamous and mate for life.

In spring, newly mated couples claim territories and set-up dens. Den establishment may be cleaning out a previously used space or taking over an abandoned skunk, badger, or marmot holes.

A pregnancy lasts about two months. Litters range be between 3 – 12 pups. Litter size is determined by the number of other coyotes in the territory and the availability of food.

Once the cubs are born, the male and other pack members help feed, raise and protect them. Pups remain with the parents somewhere between six months to one year.

The Pack & Social Behavior

A family unit contains a reproductive female and her mate. Nonreproductive females, bachelor males, and other young adults may join the pack in the winter for companionship, but this is usually temporary.

Hunting coyotes can be singular or work in groups. At times pairs and small packs will form to take large prey such as deer, cow, sheep, or large domestic dog. (The ever-unpredictable coyote may also initiate play behavior with large pet dogs.)

Occasionally, coyotes will form interspecies relationships. Coyotes have been observed working in tandem with American badgers while rodent hunting. A badger has been seen allowing head snuggles and face licking from a coyote.

Aggressive coyote behavior most closely matches fox behavior.

Hybridization (CoyDog)

While not common, coyotes have been known to breed with dogs when there is no other alternative.

Statistics & Threats

Males = 18 – 44 lbs
Females = 15 – 40 lbs

Life span 6-8 years.

Humans pose the biggest threat to coyotes. In rural farming areas, most coyote deaths are caused by hunting and trapping. In urban environments, the majority of coyote deaths are caused by automobiles.

Versatile Diet

90% of a coyote’s diet consists of meat, but a coyote will eat almost anything, often experimenting with previously unknown items.

Prey species;
  • rabbits
  • sheep
  • rodents
  • squirrels
  • birds
  • frogs
  • lizards
  • snakes (Rattlesnakes! Coyotes tease the snake to uncoil, then bites the head and shakes.)
  • fish
  • crayfish
  • insects
  • grubs
  • worms
  • black bear cubs (unusual)
  • also scavenges large animal carcasses
Wild Areas

In wild areas, coyotes may compete with bobcats and mountain lions for mule deer.

Scavenging in Rural & Urban Areas

If fresh meat is not available, coyotes will scavenge for;

  • berries
  • pears
  • figs
  • strawberries
  • elderberry
  • avocado
  • peaches
  • apples
  • persimmons
  • watermelons
  • cantaloupes
  • carrots
  • corn
  • dropped fruit under fruit trees
  • garden produce

Winter Food Sources

In winter they will also eat;

  • grasses
  • grains
  • other animal droppings

Cities and Populated Areas

In urban areas, a coyote diet can consist of;

  • dog and cat food
  • cats
  • feral cat populations
  • bird seed at feeding stations
  • small dogs
  • large dogs (sometimes), with several coyotes working as a team

Coyote Hazing

Coyotes in cities should be wary of humans.

It’s up to people to reinforce the coyote’s fear

Hazing will help maintain healthy boundaries for all.

Hazing methods;

  • throwing rocks
  • waving arms
  • shouting
  • blowing an air horn
  • spraying it with a water hose
  • or acting aggressively
  • looking at it directly in the eye
  • make yourself look larger
  • motion sensitive outdoor lighting may discourage coyotes

Guard Animals

In areas where livestock is at risk, some ranchers and farmers have found that llamas, donkeys, and dogs bred for guarding aid as coyote deterrents. (See University of California – How to Manage Pests link below for details.)

Identifying Problem Behavior

  • Increased numbers of coyotes on streets and in yards
  • Hunting pets in the daytime
  • Coyotes seen in playgrounds or parks during the day
  • Coyotes approaching people during the daytime and/or behaving with aggression
  • Chasing joggers, bicyclists or other outdoor enthusiasts
  • Attacking pets while the pet is on a leash

When a Coyote Becomes a Safety Hazard

A coyote becomes a public safety hazard when it no longer fears humans and behaves with aggression.

Coyotes that bite humans have usually been fed by humans

In 2017, the USDA Animal and Plant Inspection Service killed 3,199 coyotes in California.

If a coyote has developed bad behavior, a predator removal professional must be called (it is illegal to shoot firearms in populated areas). Coyote relocation is not an option, the animal is killed. Nevada County’s Federal Trapper can be reached at 530-470-2690 during office hours.

Coexisting

With their ability to predict outcomes, make changes, communicate, quickly identify new food sources and understand human behavior, it’s easy to see why the coyote is an evolutionary success story.

In Nevada County, and along Deer Creek, it’s important to realize that coyotes are always watching. Just like discouraging bad bear behavior, residents must be vigilant about keeping food and water sources at a minimum. It’s also wise to mindful about creating situations where small pets and farm animals may become prey.

If humans do their part by keeping coyotes wary, the two species can coexist peacefully. Haunting coyote song will serenade us at night and they’ll keep our rodents, insects and rattlesnakes in check.

click on image to see more Life on the Creek art

If you liked this post, you may also enjoy Bobcat – Susceptible to Rat Poison or Turkey Vulture – Carion Cleaner.

Resources:

Coyote Hazing – Keeping Humans and Coyotes on good terms

Coyote Myths vs. Facts

 

Dens

Resident vs. Transient Coyote

Savvy or Silly

Hero or Pest

Dog vs. Coyote

The Shapeshifter – Documentary

ABC 11 Eyewitness News – Coyote Stuck for 20 Miles in Woman’s Car Grill

HubPages – Difference Between Dog, Wolf, Jackal, Coyote, and Fo

Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust – How to identify Coyote Tracks

LiveScience – Coyote Facts

Nevada County  – Wildlife Services & Information  

University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources – How to Manage Pests of Homes, Structures, and Pets – Coyote

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service – Spotted! A Coyote and Badger Hunting Together

USDA – 2017 California Animals Killed Report

USDA – Coyote Wildlife Damage [PDF]

USDA – Living with Wildlife – Coyotes [PDF]

Wikipedia – Coyote

 

Nevada County Federal Trapper –  530-470-2690

 

 

Ghost Pine – Produces Nuts in Harsh Growing Conditions

Pinus Sabiniana is native to California and Oregon and has a variety of names.

Habitat

Its habitat forms a ring around California’s ‘bathtub’ (central valley). It grows in poor soils, is adapted to hot, dry summers and usually keeps company with Blue and Live Oaks.

Common Names & Naming History

Common names include;

  • Ghost Pine
  • Gray Pine
  • California Foothill Pine
  • Bull Pine
  • Nut Pine
  • Grayleaf Pine
  • Sabines Pine and
  • Sabine Nut Pine

In published writings before the 1800’s, the tree was known as Digger Pine. According to Erwin Gudde author of California Place Names: The Origin and Etymology of Current Geographical Names. “…the name seems to have been used in a geographical sense mainly in Wintu territory.  With these tribes, roots are, for the great portion of the year, their main subsistence.” (Schoolcraft, Archives of aboriginal knowledge, 1860). The diggers also valued as food the green cones and the seeds of the Pinus sabiniana, whence the common designation Digger Pine.”

Like monuments and other articles of history, once the full story is understood, it often sheds light on derogatory designations and attitudes. Such is the case with the name Digger. For valid reasons, the Pinus Sabiniana has many other common names to choose from.

Cones, Nuts & Resin

Current tree distribution may be a result of human cultivation. Native populations are known to have tended to plants used for food, clearing brush and redistributing seeds.

Gray pine nuts are also important food sources for the California gray squirrel, acorn woodpeckers, rodents, and a variety of birds. The Scrub and Steller’s jay eat the seeds and move them, assisting with tree migration and reproduction.

Highly Flammable Tree

Gray pine is a prolific resin producer. The bark, cones, wood and needle sheaths contain pitch. This makes the tree vulnerable to fire damage.

Adaptations that aid in fire survival are; thick bark on mature trees and low branch self-pruning. Additionally, Gray pine seeds regenerate following fire.

 

“…this tree looks more like a palm than a pine,” writes John Muir in My First Summer in the Sierra. “Sabine pine (Pinus Sabiniana), which here forms small groves or is scattered among the blue oaks. The trunk divides at a height of fifteen or twenty feet into two or more stems, out-leaning or nearly upright, with many straggling branches and long gray needles, casting but little shade.”

 

 

 

Western Dwarf Mistletoe – Arceuthobium occidentale

Dwarf mistletoe observations in Gray Pine trees off Newtown Rd.

Though mistletoes are parasitic and pose a serious threat for forest product trees, it is a valuable part of Life on the Creek. Insects, birds and small mammals consume parts of the mistletoe. In some tree species, the parasite causes the formation of witches brooms, dense outgrowths surrounded by foliage. This provides a safe haven for bird nests and other small creatures.

click on image to purchase or view entire Life on the Creek design collection

click on image to purchase or view entire Life on the Creek design collection.

If you like this post, you may also like California Oak Trees or Invasive Species Choke Natives.

Resources:

Gray Pine

Calscape – Foothill Pine Gray Pine Pinus Sabiniana
Gymnosperm Database – Pinus Sabiniana
Jepson Herbarium – Pinus sabiniana
Trees of Stanford – Pinus sabiniana
USDA & Forest Service – Fire Effects Information Species: Pinus Sabiniana
Wikipedia – Pinus sabiniana 

Western Dwarf Mistletoe

Colorado Extension – Mistletoes in Colorado Conifers
Invasive Species Compendium
Record Searchlight – Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Mistletoe
USDA Forest Service – Gray Pine Dwarf Mistletoe [PDF]

https://youtube.com/watch?v=mF4obZaD2VM

Illustration & Artwork

MistleTroll by Megan Greene Design

MistleTroll – MeganGreeneDesign.com

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