Old-Growth Forest Network Dedicates Bluff Lake Reserve - Mountain News : News

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Old-Growth Forest Network Dedicates Bluff Lake Reserve

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Posted: Thursday, June 7, 2018 9:31 am

An ecological reserve in the San Bernardino Mountains was dedicated May 29 as an old-growth forest, the first in San Bernardino County to be admitted to the Old-Growth Forest Network (“the Network”).

The Wildlands Conservancy’s Bluff Lake Reserve, located at 7,600 feet, has mature forests of lodgepole pine, Jeffrey pine and white fir surrounding a unique alpine meadow and a 20-acre lake. The dedication ceremony, held lakeside beneath an enormous lodgepole pine, was hosted by David Myers, founder and executive director of The Wildlands Conservancy (TWC).

Master of ceremonies was Tim Krantz, professor of environmental studies at the University of Redlands, who described how the unique ecological and geographical features of the location have enabled the majestic forest to thrive for more than 450 years.

Joan Maloof, professor emeritus at Salisbury University in Maryland, is the founder and executive director of the Network. She explained that the features of the forest at Bluff Lake fulfilled the requirements for designation as an old-growth forest, worthy of protection for enjoyment by future generations. After brief remarks, Maloof presented Myers with an official sign to mark the reserve as part of the Old-Growth Forest Network.

Another presentation surprised the attendees. Stephanie Thot from the Big Bear Chamber of Commerce presented a Certificate of Appreciation to TWC for its work in preserving land. Sara Seburn, marketing and communications director, accepted the certificate on behalf of TWC.

Also attending the event were TWC preserve managers, rangers, naturalists, current and former staff members, and Peter Jorris, executive director of the San Bernardino Mountains Land Trust.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the group hiked a short distance from the lake to pay homage to the Champion Lodgepole Pine – one of the biggest in the world – with a circumference of 121 feet and a tremendous height that towers over its neighboring pines on U.S. Forest Service (USFS) land.


The Old-Growth Forest Network was established in 2011 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Maloof is a scientist who enjoys studying the natural workings of our amazing Earth, observing systems that enable trees, flowers and animals to subsist on their own with no help from humans.

However, she discovered that such natural places were being logged and converted into monoculture tree farms.

Maloof understood the need to harvest trees for board and fiber, but she developed concerns about sacrificing biodiversity and the beauty of natural places. She recognized that some places should be left to nature’s processes so people can witness how nature works.

She wrote and published a book entitled “Teaching the Trees: Lessons from the Forest” and soon learned that few of her readers had ever seen an old-growth forest. She discovered that almost all of America’s original forests are gone. Fewer than 1 percent remain in the east, and only 5 percent exist in the western United States.

Many of these forests are the last ones left in a community. Most often they are privately owned and threatened with development. The Network has helped local groups save these forests by advising private landowners about their forests, enabling them to realize the value and merit of preservation.

Through Maloof’s efforts, 20 old-growth forests joined the Network during the first year. Now there are one or more forests in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. She and her nonprofit team are actively working in Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, New Mexico, Vermont and other states.

“We want to be the organization that ties the forest groups together across the country, and perhaps someday across the planet,” Maloof explained. “The time is ripe for a national organization to support, inspire and direct grassroots forest conservation, saving some ancient forests for people to experience for all time.”


The Bluff Lake Reserve is open seven days a week to visitors between May 1 and Nov. 1, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The property is deeply snowed in throughout winter and spring. USFS gates are closed and locked when snow accumulates.

Use is restricted to hiking designated trails, picnicking, photography, bird-watching and quiet reflection. Many other passive activities are acceptable, and dogs on leashes are welcome.

The Champion Lodgepole Pine is accessible from the reserve. See the posted maps or ask the ranger on duty for a map and directions.

Leave No Trace principles must be observed. The property is an ecological reserve. It is home to unique plant communities and wildlife. Access to the reserve will continue as long as visitor use is acceptable.


Take State Highway 18 east toward Big Bear Lake. At the west end of town where the highway becomes Big Bear Boulevard, turn right either onto Tulip Lane or Mill Creek Road.

At Oak Knoll Lodge, turn south on Forest Service Road 2N10. The pavement ends after about a mile and becomes an improved dirt road. When conditions are dry, the road is accessible by passenger car, but be careful with low-profile vehicles. When wet, precipitation might pool water across Forest Service roads, in which case vehicles with high clearance are recommended.

Slowly follow the 2N10 another 2.6 miles to the junction with 2N86. Veer left, toward the sign that reads “Bluff Lake Reserve.” After 1/2 mile, look for a sign on the right: “Bluff Lake Reserve 1/2.” Turn right and proceed another 1/2 mile to the parking area on the right.

Visit www.wildlandsconservancy.org for more information. Call (909) 790-3698 with any questions or to find out about property closures.

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