- Author: Robert J Keiffer
Society in general, especially communities here in the North Coast, should allocate more time towards the appreciation of and education about valley oaks. The California Valley Oak (Quercus lobata) once was scattered throughout the valley floors of inland interior pocket valleys such as Sanel, Yokayo, Anderson, and Round Valleys of Mendocino County. Most of those have been removed over the last 150 years.
This tree species can attain ages in excess of 350 years and attain heights of over 100 feet. The Henley Oak in Round Valley is considered one of the largest, with a height of 151 feet and a dbh (diameter at breast height) of over 12 feet. The Hooker Oak in Bidwell State park near Chico, is over 110 feet tall and has a dbh of 11 feet. The Hooker Oak is estimated to be over 1000 years old.
Sanel Valley has one magnificent specimen in town directly behind the Hopland Branch Savings Bank of Mendocino County and Thatcher Hotel, but it's health appears to be in decline.
Here at the UC Hopland Research & Extension Center efforts have taken place over the last couple decades to educate the public about oaks and the importance of oaks to wildlife ... and to plant replacement trees. Here you see a young Valley Oak planted by Hopland School children about fifteen years ago. It will take much time (100 plus years) before this tree can attain the size of the one in the background.