(inspired by Polaris, a mighty valley oak that stood at the northern end of Little Lake Valley)
From WILL PARRISH
Save Little Lake Valley
Valley oaks grow precisely in areas where the dominant society insists on erecting its cities and industrial empires, and its freeways: in valley bottom lands, where these long, flowing, almost vine-like oaks thrive in moist loamy soil ranging between the Inner Coast Ranges and across the Transverse Ranges, in much of Central Valley, and in various other pockets of California.
It is said that valley oaks never grow without a wild water source within 70 feet. Some Indigenous people have called them “Water Oak.”
As with coast redwoods, it is likely that 97-98 percent of old growth valley oaks have been destroyed in the past two hundred years throughout their native range. They have often met this fate in a manner even less dignified than the redwoods. Millions of them have been hacked to the ground like trash, often merely because they stood in the way, not even to be milled or used for any specific purpose.
But valley oaks are nothing if not dignified. These regal trees are thought to be the largest and longest-lived oaks in the world.
For thousands of years, they have been a “tree of life” for Indigenous people who dwell in California interior valleys.
Their leaves have provided tinder, earth oven lining, and fodder for stock.
Their galls have provided material for hair dyes, medicines, and basketry.
Their burls have provided bowls, cups, dippers, ladles, and mortars.
Their sprouts have provided material for basketry, digging sticks, arrows, boats, traps, fire drills, cooking tongs, stirring sticks, clothing and games.