North Bank Habitat 4-27-21

This forum is used to share your experiences out on the trails.
Post Reply
User avatar
bobcat
Posts: 2240
Joined: August 1st, 2011, 7:51 am
Location: SW Portland

North Bank Habitat 4-27-21

Post by bobcat » May 1st, 2021, 9:33 am

The BLM’s 6,000-acre North Bank Habitat Management Area above Whistlers Bend on the North Umpqua River, once a sprawling cattle ranch, was purchased to offer a haven to one of only two remaining populations of Columbian white-tailed deer (the other is on the lower Columbia River). This subspecies of deer was virtually wiped out by Euro-American settlers as they inhabited the same rich river bottoms and foothills coveted by early farmers and loggers. The deer was listed as endangered on the lower Columbia in 1968 and the Douglas County population was recognized and also listed in 1978, when a total of fewer than 1,000 individuals remained. After decades of conservation efforts, the deer’s status has been downgraded to threatened on the lower Columbia, with the larger population near Roseburg now delisted. They are now subject to controlled hunting in the fall, with hunters’ fees contributing to their conservation.

These are ridges of oak and madrone savannas rising from the North Umpqua to the rolling summit ridgeline of Round Timber Mountain. I did a loop beginning from the west trailhead; the main parking area, the Comstock Trailhead is open to the public only Friday through Monday. The trails are all old ranch roads and jeep tracks. The oaks were all leafed out and the madrones in full bloom. Poison oak runs rampant and dense here, especially under a canopy, with free standing plants up to eight feet tall. I picked up one tick, which managed to get its hypostome into my ankle before I yanked it out.

West entrance, North Bank HMA.jpg
Survey camera, Blacktail Deer Road, North Bank HMA.jpg
Oak arbor, Jackson Ranch Road, North Bank HMA.jpg

I used the track up Chasm Creek to reach another trail that rose to the ridge of Round Timber Mountain, and then hiked up and down along the grassy track to the high point, from which there were views down to the North Umpqua and Scott Mountain to the east.

View to Round Timber Ridge, Bear Tree Trail, North Bank HMA.jpg
Oregon flag (Iris tenax), North Boundary Road Ridge Trail, North Bank HMA.jpg
Deer watering tank, North Boundary Road Ridge Trail, North Bank HMA.jpg
Hooker's Indian pink (Silene hookeri hookeri), North Boundary Road Ridge Trail, North Bank HMA.jpg
High section of Round Timber Ridge, North Boundary Road Ridge Trail, North Bank HMA.jpg
High point on Round Timber, North Boundary Road Ridge Trail, North Bank HMA.jpg

I then took the Middle Ridge down and peeled off down the West Fork of Jackson Creek to reach Soggy Bottoms and the deserted Comstock Trailhead .

Scott Mountain and madrones, Middle Ridge Road, North Bank HMA.jpg
Slender-tubed iris (Iris chrysophylla), North Gate Trail, North Bank HMA.jpg
Heading down North Gate Trail, North Bank HMA.jpg
Junction with Wrong Way Trail, North Gate Trail, North Bank HMA.jpg
Idaho blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium idahoense), North Gate Trail, North Bank HMA.jpg
Comstock Trailhead from West Barn Road, North Bank HMA.jpg

It was on the West Barn Trail that I saw my only white-tailed deer. They had been taking advantage of the shade offered by the partially collapsed West Barn, but were quite skittish. One of them was sporting a tracking collar. From the West Barn, I reached the Middle Ridge gain and then walked down the Blacktail Deer Road to the trailhead. The loop was about 11 miles, 2,100’ elevation gain on a glorious spring day.

White-tailed deer, West Barn Road, North Bank HMA.jpg
Looking down on the West Barn, West Barn Road, North Bank HMA.jpg
View to Whistlers Bend, Thistle Ridge Trail, North Bank HMA.jpg
Big madrone, Thistle Ridge Trail, North Bank HMA.jpg

keithcomess
Posts: 57
Joined: April 24th, 2019, 8:04 pm

Re: North Bank Habitat 4-27-21

Post by keithcomess » May 1st, 2021, 2:03 pm

Very fine report and photos! Thanks for posting this.

Post Reply