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WATER

ASSESSMENT Of PROPOSED PIONEER MEADOWS SUBDIVISION
CONTAINING APPLEGATE TRAIL RESOURCES

IV.C. Water

1. Drainages

The Proposed Pioneer Meadows Subdivision and the Hugo Tombstone Quarry Section of the Applegate Trail are part of the 69,702 acre Jumpoff Joe fifth field watershed.1&2

Jumpoff Joe Watershed: 1710031002

Field Name Numeric Code
1. Pacific Northwest Region 17
2. Oregon-Washington Coastal Subregion 10
3. Southern Oregon Coastal Basin 03
4. Lower Rogue Subbasin 10
5. Jumpoff Joe Watershed 02

The BLM further subdivided the Jumpoff Joe Watershed into two landscape analysis units (LAUs): Quartz Joe and Joe Louse.1 The Proposed Pioneer Meadows Subdivision is located in the Quartz Joe LAU in the Schoolhouse Creek subdrainage.

2. Streams

Schoolhouse Creek is a perennial Class 2 stream of which its two major forks are located in the Pioneer Meadows area (Map 16).

Among the most useful and readily available documentary resources for early western emigrant trails, water features, terrain, and vegetation are the General Land Office (GLO) survey plats produced from the 1850's through the early 20th century. These are the original federal township surveys that today’s assessor records are based on.3&4 However, even the most competent GLO surveyors only recorded features along section lines within a township. A section is one mile square, with 36 sections in a township. Surveyors were required only to walk along section lines and record in their survey books what features they encountered along the section line. Thus, in most cases, field surveyors did not record features within the sections when surveying along section lines.

The following are the transcribed GLO field survey notes for the section line North between sections 13 & 14 and West between sections 11 & 14 (Appendix F).5 They note streams, swales, roads, and other geographic features. It is noted that the complexity of the area’s terrain and hydrology, along with the fact the surveyor was only recording information along section lines, resulted in an error in the location of Harris Creek. It was mapped as discharging into Louse Creek instead of Jumpoff Joe Creek (Map 5; Map 6). Sections 13, 14, and 15 were mapped with several streams and swales. The relationship between the original mapping and the actual ground can be compared in several maps (Map 5; Map 6; Map 16; Map 20; Aerial Photo 1; Aerial Photo 2; Aerial Photo 3A, Aerial Photo 3B).

JA-7. Harris Road 4 (Office)3

JA Section 2. Mary Harris Complex/Donation Land Claim

Page 9 - Subdivisions of Township No 35 South of Range No 6 West
North Between Sections 13 & 14
Chains
14.25 Stream 5 Links wide C West
18.00 Leave Field C N10W & S10E
22.50 Jacksonville Road c N 10 W& S10E
37.00 Same Road [Jacksonville Road] c N 10 W& S10E
39.00 to Swale C N10E & S20W
40.00 Set qu [quarter] Sec [Section] Post, (From Which)
                a [Black] Oak 8 in [inches] dia [diameter] bears N 5??E 19 Lks [Links]
                a do [Douglas Fir] 12 [inches] da [diameter] S 42W 5 ls [Links]
44.00 Top of ???
55.00 Same Road [Jacksonville Road] c N 80 W
59.92 Mr. Harris Home bears N72W about 8 chains distance
80.00 Set Post Cor [Corner] to Secs [Sections] 11.12.13.&14

The 1856 surveyor described the land between sections 13 and 14 as "Land gently Rolling Local Grass & Oats. Timber Pine Oak. House [ ] grown[?] with Oak Leland #6".

JA-8. Schoolhouse Ridge 3

SUBDIVISION LINES, T. 35, R. 6 W.

Page 22 - Subdivisions of Township No 35 South of Range No 6 W
West on True Line Between Sections 11 & 14
 
Chains
36.00 Stream 2 lks [Links] wide C NW
40.00 Road to Jacksonville c N SE
47.50 to a swale plain
80.00 to Sec Cor

The 1856 surveyor described the land between sections 11 and 14 as "Land gently Rolling Timber Oak or Pine Opening. undergrowth Manzanita and [??]wood Soil 2nd rate Granite? Soil".

It is unknown what the definition of a swale was as used by the GLO surveyors. One working definition follows.

"A swale is a ditch on the contour. It does not direct water, but holds it and allows it to gradually infiltrate the soil down-slope of it. Soil and water run-off are caught in the swale which becomes a fertile area. Gradual infiltration of water and nutrients and the dead roots of plants growing in the swale, slowly improve soil structure down-slope." (Dave’s Garden Site (http://davesgarden. com/terms/go/900/); Definition by Pipstar April 22, 2007).

Other definitions of swale follow.

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1), Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Random House, Inc. 2006

1. a low place in a tract of land, usually moister and often having ranker vegetation than the adjacent higher land.
2. a valley like intersection of two slopes in a piece of land.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition 2006, Houghton Mifflin Company

1. A low tract of land, especially when moist or marshy.
2. A long, narrow, usually shallow trough between ridges on a beach, running parallel to the coastline.
3. A shallow troughlike depression that carries water mainly during rainstorms or snow melts.

Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved April 22, 2007, from Dictionary.com website

"low, hollow place, often boggy," 1584, special use of Scottish swaill "low, hollow place," or dialectal East Anglian swale "shady place" (c.1440); both probably from O.N. svalr "cool," from P.Gmc. *swalaz.

WordNet 3.0. Retrieved April 22, 2007, from Dictionary.com website

"a low area (especially a marshy area between ridges)"

In summary, the 1856 GLO field survey notes record gently rolling land with timber, oak, or pine openings, streams, swales, and 2nd rate granite soil in the bottom lands of upper Schoolhouse Creek west of where I-5 is located today. The complexity of the area’s terrain and hydrology, along with the fact the surveyor was only recording information along section lines, resulted in an error in the location of Harris Creek. It was mapped as discharging into Louse Creek instead of Jumpoff Joe Creek. Sections 13, 14, and 15 were mapped with several streams and swales.

3. Wetland

The 160-acre 1861 military patent by John Davis (Map 9) included most of the open wetlands of what would become the 240-acre J. C. Cochrane ranch (Map 7; Map 8). The military patent and the ranch’s location had a reason: natural sub-irrigation for pasture during the winter, spring, and early summer. Naturally irrigated pasture was crucial prior to pumps, electricity, and sprinkler irrigation. Part of the old Cochrane ranch’s open area (Map 8; Map 11; Map 20; Aerial Photo 1) is identified as a wetland (Map 20; Aerial Photo 1; Aerial Photo 2; Aerial Photo 3B) by the Josephine County Planning Department in the Josephine County Comprehensive Plan.

In 1856 the wetlands were identified as part of a gently rolling land with timber, oak, or pine openings. In early summer, on July 31, 1940, the wetland area was generally open of trees with plain visible moisture patterns showing in the ground cover (Aerial Photo 1). Except for the truncation by Interstate-5 (I-5), the 1940 southeastern moisture pattern of the open area is a match for the wetland mapping by the Planning Department - the wetlands are along either side of the south fork of Schoolhouse Creek (Map 20; Aerial Photo 1; Aerial Photo 2; Aerial Photo 3B) . However, the 1940 aerial photo identifies a much larger area that is moist versus the wetlands delineated by the Planning Department.

The same moisture patterns can be seen in recent aerial photographs. This pasture area, except for a few fruit tree saplings, has been open and generally free of trees for all the grown life of Mike Walker, especially since 1960 when I-5 was built in northern Josephine County. He would view the area every time he traveled I-5 to Grants Pass from Hugo.

It turns out there is a scientific rationale for the open areas of the old Cochrane ranch. The open seasonally moist area is a near match for the Soil Conservation Service’s 1983 description of soil mapping unit 18B–Copsey clay, 3 to 7 percent slopes.6 This deep, poorly drained soil is found in drainageways. Typically, the surface layer is black clay about 18 inches thick. Permeability of the soil is very slow. Effective rooting depth is limited by a seasonal high water table that is at a depth of 6 to 18 inches in winter and spring. This soil is subject to rare periods of flooding. The vegetation in most areas is sedges, rushes, and grasses. The production of vegetation is limited by the low fertility of the soil. The ultramafic rock from which the soil is developed is very high in content of magnesium and very low in calcium, which limits plant growth. The main limitations for pasture are low fertility of the soil, excessive wetness, and very slow permeability.

The low wetland of the 18B–Copsey clay mapping unit was generally avoided by travelers on the early Applegate Trail after the one-way traffic north to the Willamette Valley turned into year-around homestead and ranch traffic (1856 - 1895). The trail was adjacent to the wetland, but in the highest elevation next to the tree line to the south away from the lower wetland area. The old road in the tree line can be identified in several photographs (Aerial Photo 1; Aerial Photo 2; Aerial Photo 3B).

Recently the Galli Group reported on the wetlands and came to a conclusion that there is a need for a wetlands specialist to more accurately define the location and extent of the wetlands.7 It understood that approval from the Division of State Lands and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would most likely be required for developing areas now designated as wetlands. However, a preliminary conclusion by Soil Scientist/Soil Classifier, Dennis Hutchinson, was, "Most of the area currently mapped as a wetland does not have the hydraulic conditions to qualify as a wetland, 2) "The wetland area should be reduced to drainageways and depressions . . ." which ". . . would be seasonal wetlands", 3) "would result in about a 50 to 70 percent reduction in size from the current wetland delineation" and 4) "the potential exists to develop this property into multiple home sites with on-site septic disposal."

The above conclusions by Hutchinson suggest one alternative. Another alternative approach is framed by his detailed comments in Appendix C of the Galli Group report7, historical use of the open areas as pasture, the photographic evidence of the aerial photographs, and the larger 18B–Copsey clay mapping unit.

"Soil conditions and vegetation types do not vary much throughout the non-treed, open field areas within and adjacent to the current wetland delineation." [18B–Copsey clay] "The area currently mapped as wetlands is comprised of dominantly hydric soils similar to the Copsey soil series. These soils are mostly poorly drained, very high in clay content and usually structureless (massive) within 20 inches of the surface."

"Soil and vegetation conditions remain fairly constant but the hydrology of the site varies over short distances. Where the gently sloping landform becomes a depressional area or a drainageway, wet season ponding or surface flow is common. The combination of soil, vegetation and hydrology in these depression and drainageways appears to meet the criteria of seasonal wetlands."

"Because of the ambiguity of using tall fescue as a wetland species and the rapid and distinct changes in hydrology, wetland delineation for this site is not easy."

"To be more accurate on the exact location and extent of the seasonal wetlands, an intensive study by a wetland specialist would be needed."

"The area mapped as 18B will have very severe limitations for on-site sewage disposal. A combination of capping fill and sand filter or other similar nonstandard systems might be acceptable if properly designed, engineered and installed."

The amount of work that obviously occurred to develop the two alternative soils analyses and opinions, and the opinions on wetlands by the Galli Group and Hutchinson is curious. The question is why is it provided without a corresponding request for Comprehensive Plan Text Amendments to change the soils inventory and wetland boundaries from the county official inventories? The soils and wetlands facts do not seem to support the Galli Group and Hutchinson’s opinions. However, regardless of any positions pro or con, the merits can not be decided by the hearing body(s) without an application for a change to the official soils and wetlands inventories. Therefore, it is a moot point and the hearing body must use the current soils and wetlands inventories in its decision-making.

In summary, the open wet areas of the 18B–Copsey clay mapping unit were recognized by early surveyors, pioneers, and travelers. They were both a detriment to be avoided by travelers in wagons, and an opportunity for homesteaders to utilize naturally irrigated pasture land. The hydrology is complex as evidenced by the moisture patterns delineated in the aerial photographs. The open wet areas of the 18B–Copsey clay mapping unit are much larger than officially delineated by the Planning Office as wetlands. To be more accurate on the exact location and extent of the seasonal wetlands, an intensive study by a wetland specialist would be needed for any proposal to change the boundaries of the wetlands from the Division of State Lands and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

4. Summary

The Proposed Pioneer Meadows Subdivision is part of the Jumpoff Joe Watershed. The wetland hydrology in the proposed subdivision of gently rolling land, with timber, oak, or pine openings at its margins, is significant. It was noted as early as 1856 in the GLO field survey notes and maps and still obvious in current aerial photographs. It is today recognized as the open wetlands of the 18B–Copsey clay mapping unit.

To be accurate on the exact location and extent of the seasonal wetlands, an intensive study by a wetland specialist is needed. However, regardless of any positions pro or con, the merits of any proposed changes can not be decided by the hearing body(s) without an application for a change to the official soils and wetlands inventories; the hearing body must use the current soils and wetlands inventories in its decision-making. 

1. The United States Department of the Interior (USDI), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Medford District Office MDO), Grants Pass Resource Area (GPRA). 1998. Jumpoff Joe Watershed Analysis. REO Watershed # 1710031002). Medford, OR.

2. Middle Rogue Watershed Association. 2001. Middle Rogue Watershed Assessment. Grants Pass, OR.

3. Hugo Neighborhood. 2005. Public Outreach & Educational Brochure Program: Hugo’s Emigrant Trails. Hugo, OR.

4. Office of National Trails Preservation & Oregon-California Trails Association (P.O. box 1019, Independence, MO, 64051-0519, 816-252-2276, octa@indepmo.org). July 2002, 4th edition. Mapping Emigrants Trails MET Field Manual.

5. General Surveyor Office of Oregon. Township & Subdivision Lines For 1856 Map (T.35., R. 6. W., Willamette Meridian). Field Notes. Surveyor Luke G Hyde. Contract February 19, 1855; Surveyed March 31, 1856.

6. United States Department of Agriculture. Soil Conservation Service. December 1983. Soil Survey of Josephine County, Oregon. Page 37 (0R033) (Now Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

7. The Galli Group. August 2006. Subdivision Tentative Plan Application Items Pioneer Meadows Subdivision Grants Pass, Oregon. Section 8.0 Wetlands (page 13); Appendix C. Grants Pass, OR.

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2012 Hugo Neighborhood Association & Historical Society