California's lost coast, as this area is sometimes called, is noted for its rugged terrain and heavy fog and rain. The steep west slope of the King Range rises from sea level to 1,246 meters (4,087 feet) in less than 5 kilometers (3 miles), and at Shubrick Peak, 1.2 kilometers (.75 mile) inland, the elevation reaches 852 maters (2,797 feet). Precipitation is heavy, with over 254 centimeters (100 inches) per year recorded at Honeydew, the nearest weather station. Rainfall in the higher elevations may reach an estimated 500 centimeters (200 inches) a year, making it one of the wettest parts of the State. (See also Upper Honeydew Creek and Chamise Mountain)
A variety of plant communities is found within the area, including coastal strand, mixed evergreen forest, coastal prairie, chaparral, and riparian associations. (There are no native redwoods in the area.)
The forest covers much of the area, with the dominant species being Douglas fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii, sugar pine, Pinus lambertiana, tanoak, Lithocarpus densiflora, madrone, Arbutus menziesii, and chinquapin, Chrysolepis chrysophylla. Chaparral is commonly found here in the more interior sections and includes snow bush, Ceanothus cordulatus, huckleberry oak, Quercus vaccinifolia, and hairy manzanita, Arctostaphylos columbiana. Along the stream courses, red alder, Alnus rubra, maple, Acer macrophyllum, and American laurel, Kalmia polifolia, are prominent.
There are small patches of coastal prairie, primarily in the northern section. The rare reed grass, Calamagrostis foliosa, is found along the coast.
An abundance of wildlife is found here including some 75 species of terrestrial and marine mammals, 258 species of birds, and 31 species of reptiles and amphibians. There are numerous freshwater fishes present. Among the noteworthy mammals found here are the mountain beaver, Aplodontia rufa, flying squirrel, Glaucomys sabrinus, black bear, Ursus americanus, otter, Lutra canadensis, and various breeding sea mammals (See King Range Coastline). The Roosevelt elk, once common here, may be reintroduced. Both the golden and bald eagle, Aquila chrysaetos and Haliaeetus leucocephalus, occur here, as does the rare peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus. A number of sea birds nest in the area. (See Point Delgada Rocks and Reynolds Rock).
Geologically, the rocks are primarily sedimentary in origin and are strongly folded and faulted. Where sandstones and shales are present there are landslides. The San Andreas fault, which runs to sea north of Point Arena, cuts across the land again at Point Delgada and then continues northward at sea just off the coast. A rift area is visible in the Shelter Cove vicinity. Due to the movement of the fault, structural features are cut off at the coast and not identifiable on land; thus the Delgada submarine canyon, which reaches a depth of 182 meters (600 feet) less than 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) offshore, and 914 meters (3,000 feet) at 14 kilometers (9 miles) offshore, heads against an ungullied mountainside.
There are a number of archaeological sites in the Conservation Area.
Integrity: Portions of the area have been logged, grazed, or developed residentially. There are roads and trails in the area. However, much of the area is virtually pristine.
Use: Research, educational, observational, recreational, grazing, fishing, hunting and logging.
Ref: Anon. 1974. Management Program for the King Range National Conservation Area, Bureau of Land Management, Ukiah, California.
Inventory of California Natural Areas
Revision © 2008 Steven Louis Hartman