Tom Keeter: “The Environmental and Cultural History of the North Fork Eel River Watershed Trinity County, California”

Join SCAS for a talk by Tom Keeter entitled: “The Environmental and Cultural History of the North Fork Eel River Watershed, Trinity County, California”. The talk will be held on November 14, 2019, at 7:30 pm at the Santa Cruz Live Oak Grange Hall at 1900 17th Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062 (click here for Google Maps directions).

This presentation provides an overview of Tom Keeter’s research within the North Fork Eel River watershed located on the Six Rivers National Forest in Southwestern Trinity County. For over three decades, he has studied the prehistory, history, and past environment of this remote region and has spent weeks in the field surveying for cultural resources, recording nearly 100 historic and prehistoric sites. The research has been distilled into a book and over 20 professional papers. The earliest human habitation site in this region, to the north on Pilot Ridge, is almost 8,000 years old. Subsequent to the beginning of the historic era in the 1850s, a number of large ranches were established in the North Fork basin. This was followed in the early 1900s by a sudden influx of homesteaders claiming over fifty 160 acre tracts of public lands under the National Forest Homestead Act. Environmental studies are related to the effects and changes to the ecosystem over the entire span of human history within the basin, focusing most heavily on the effects to vegetation dynamics resulting from the cessation of anthropogenic fires.

Born in Michigan and raised in Florida. Tom received bachelor degrees in Psychology and Anthropology from Florida State University in 1974. After graduation, he moved with his wife to Montréal, Québec. In June of 1977, they relocated to Garberville and purchased 25 acres of land.  Living off the grid, they designed and built their house, installing their own solar system. In August of that year, he was hired by Six Rivers National Forest as a seasonal archaeologist on the Orleans Ranger District.  In 1980 he was hired full-time as the assistant Forest Archaeologist.  He worked there continuously until his retirement in 2004.  Since that time Tom has worked as an independent contractor and has returned numerous times to the North Fork Basin to continue his research.

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