BLM Seeks Historic Photographs of South County Landscapes

Bureau of Land Management wants photos to help monitor vegetation change over time
San Carlos Creek 2009.jpg
San Benito Mountain west 1915.JPG
San Benito Mountain west 2009.JPG
Sampson Mine 1917.jpg
Sampson Mine 2008.JPG

By Ryan O’Dell

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is seeking historic photographs (1940 and older–the older the better) that show landscapes and wildland vegetation (trees and shrubs) of any locations in southern San Benito County, western Fresno County, and eastern Monterey County. The photos will be used to assess trends in woody vegetation change of the region over time that may possibly be due to excessive wildfire, wildfire suppression, or increasingly warmer and drier climate due to climate change. 

The historic photographs, when combined with a current photo from the same position, are a valuable resource to monitor vegetation change over time (see example photos). 

The photos need not be of only the vegetation and landscape and may include a person (or people), animal(s), structure, etc. that was the actual focus or purpose of the photo.  As long as there is identifiable background vegetation and landscape, the photo is useful. We are particularly interested in photos from the vicinity of or on BLM lands including Panoche Hills, Tumey Hills, Griswold Hills, Clear Creek Management Area (New Idria, San Benito Mountain, Joaquin Ridge), Laguna Mountain, Coalinga Mineral Springs, and Parkfield. 

Ideally, if the current land owner will grant permission, we would like to obtain a current photo from the same position for comparison to the historic photos. We can provide a portable scanner to scan any photos you have to offer. 

Trends in vegetation change that we are looking to verify are: an increase or invasion of Saltbrush from arid valley floors progressively farther up into the hills; an increase in the abundance of California juniper everywhere; decline in Blue oak, Foothill pine, Manzanita, and Scrub oak at the lowest, driest elevations; and decline in Coulter pine, Jeffrey Pine, and Incense Cedar at high elevation locations like San Benito Mountain, Laguna Mountain, Hepsedam Peak, and Parkfield Grade summit (Black Mountain).

If you have any questions or photos that you would be willing to share with us, please contact:

Ryan O’Dell, Natural Resource Specialist (Botany) by email at [email protected] or by phone at 831-630-5028.

San Benito Working Landscapes Group