Text excerpt from log report for Day 7:
Despite its leading role in terms of agricultural output and population, California still boasts vast areas of natural vegetation. A mere 14 % of the Golden State is cultivated or urbanized. Farming has expanded over the decades only through intensification rather than through expansion of arable land (except on the western side and at the south end of the Central Valley). Urbanization, in turn, has used up farmland rather than forest land. Hence the pre-European vegetation distribution remains largely unaltered. However, its composition has been considerably modified (Lantis et al. 1989, 526 - 529).
Picture: Coastal Redwoods
Picture: Sagebrush in the Colorado Desert
There is a clear correlation between climatic expression and vegetational distribution. At the opposite ends of California's vegetational extremes one finds the desert shrubs of the arid southeast and the verdant forests of the humid northwest. However, more than half of California (its subhumid and semiarid segments) is characterized by intermediate climatic features and exhibits a considerable mix of trees, shrubs and grasses. In this "tension zone," ground conditions, fire history and even short-term variations in climate may exert critical influence upon plant life.