Jackson is the largest of CAL FIRE's ten demonstration state forests. The area has a long history of logging which began in under private ownership 1862 then evolved into sustainable harvesting after the State's purchase of the property in 1947. Today, more forest growth occurs each year than is harvested. The most common tree on the forest is coast redwood, but visitors will also find Douglas-fir, grand fir, hemlock, bishop pine, tanoak, alder, madrone and bay myrtle.

Forest Stats:

Established: 1949
Area: 48,652 acres
Elevation: 80 - 2,200 ft
Precipitation: 39 in per year along coast
70 in per year inland Temperature: Max: 100 F - Min: 25 F

JDSF Base Map - Compatible with mapping apps (e.g. Avenza).

Research

Much of the redwood timber region is either privately owned or under State or National Park jurisdiction, which makes Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF) unique in being able to demonstrate a working multi-use forest in the redwood region.  The Caspar Creek Experimental Watershed Study was established in 1961 as a cooperative effort between the CAL FIRE and the Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW). The Caspar Creek study has evolved from a simple paired watershed study into one of the most comprehensive and detailed investigations of its kind. More information can be found below.

Demonstration

Jackson provides a unique living laboratory in a coastal redwood forest where environmental scientists, foresters, and researchers can study the effects of various forest management techniques. These ‘demonstrations’ provide important data to private forest landowners that help them with their management decisions. Road abandonment for improved instream habitat, forest thinning to increase forest resilience to fire, and regeneration studies are a few examples of some of the demonstrations landowners can learn from at Jackson.

Recreation

Jackson offers a variety of low cost and free recreational opportunities. Recreational activities include camping, hiking, biking, horseback riding, swimming, mushroom collecting, hunting and picnicking. Seasonal camping is offered mid-May through September, weather dependent. There are a total of 48 miles of sanctioned trails. The forest remains is open to the public at most locations, however some areas are subject to temporary closure for visitor safety like heavy equipment and timber harvest work.

Public comments for the new Forest Management Plan Scope of Work can be submitted by email to JDSF@fire.ca.gov
The deadline for submissions is September 8, 2023, at 5:00 PM PST.

Recreation, Maps and Trail Information

JDSF maintains a rustic experience, so be aware of minimal signage. Smart devices and applications are useful tools to guide you through the landscape. All digitized maps are georeferenced and available for use offline (cell reception not required) in the Avenza app: https://www.avenzamaps.com/

Hiking: Three demonstration trails have been developed with trail guides to inform visitors about the ecology, history and management of the redwood forest. There are also numerous hiking trails situated in historically and ecologically interesting settings, such as the Waterfall Grove Trail and the Forest History Trail.

Biking: There are many opportunities for all types of bikers to explore JDSF. Mountain and gravel biking has grown in popularity. There are a vast number of dirt and gravel roads providing connector routes to ridge lines, streams, and forested areas. There are multi-use single track on JDSF, mostly located within the Caspar and Big River drainages, some connecting with neighboring public lands, including Big River and Woodland State Parks. 

Hunting & Fishing: Hunting is allowed in season. No fishing is allowed per CA Department of Fish and Wildlife rules. 

Firewood Cutting and Mushroom Collecting: Permits are required for firewood cutting and mushroom harvesting. Mushroom permits are issued on a Fiscal Year basis i.e. July 1 through Jun 30; all permits expire on June 30th regardless of when they were issued.  Example: a permit issued January 18, 2022 expires June 30, 2022.  A permit purchased July 1, 2022 will expire on June 30, 2023. Contact our office (707) 964-5674 for questions related to recreation events requiring Special Use Permits such as organized bike and equestrian rides and races.

All Permits by mail only at this time.

Related Links:

Camping: Seasonal camping is offered mid-May through September, weather dependent. There are two main overnight camping areas with a number of campsites, including equestrian camps. Camping is within designated campsites only (i.e., dispersed camping is not allowed). Camping fees are collected at self-registration stations located in the campgrounds. Camping fees will be used to support the recreation program including costs associated with maintenance and improvement of campgrounds and facilities, signage, roads, trails, etc. Campsites have picnic tables, fire rings, and pit toilets. Campers may collect dead wood lying on the ground for use within their campfire rings. There is no water at the campsites or day use areas. Pets are allowed but must be on a leash.

Permits:

Cautions:

Recreation Visitor Survey: Personnel from CAL FIRE along with local stakeholders recognize the need to update recreation management planning. In 2013, a contract with a researcher at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, was initiated to conduct a recreation visitor survey. This visitor survey was developed in collaboration with Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF) managers and with input from members of the Recreation Task Force (RTF) and the Jackson Advisory Group (JAG). Subjects completed a questionnaire in three general regions of the forest, including campgrounds, day use areas and trailheads. Primary recreational activities on JDSF include camping, hiking, horseback, riding, mountain biking, firearm target shooting and picnicking. In brief, findings suggested that visitors are satisfied with most facilities and services and overall conditions are generally acceptable. Results indicated need for signage, bathroom maintenance, trail system improvements and additional personal and non-personal information services. Support for a volunteer program and camping reservation system and road access. 

The finding within the report were a basis for developing the current 2016 JDSF Recreation Management Plan. The report highlighted areas of concern, in addition to the activities, services and facilities that CAL FIRE is managing well. As demographics and recreational uses change, JDSF will continue monitoring policies, decision making, planning and strategies to manage the complexities of the forest while meeting visitor recreation needs. JDSF is planning to conduct a new survey scheduled to begin in the next few years. 

Charter & Membership Resources:

JDSF Recreation Task Force Meeting Materials

2024

2023

2022

2021

Jackson Demonstration State Forest is committed to providing innovative demonstrations, experiments and education. The number of acres and breadth of age classes and seral stages contained within JDSF will allow for large landscape level research and demonstrations to complement stand and individual project level work. JDSF will demonstrate the full range of intensity of forest management while maintaining a diversity of stand conditions for future research not yet known. JDSF explicitly acknowledges that forest management is a much broader concept than the growth and yield of merchantable timber. Special concern areas such as riparian and older forest corridors, unusual plant communities, ecological processes, wildlife use of habitat corridors or structural elements, and individual species are all worthy topics for examination within the research and demonstration program.

The Caspar Creek Experimental Watershed Study was established in 1961 as a cooperative effort between the CAL FIRE and the Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW). It is the longest continuous research project at JDSF and has important implications for forests worldwide.  

Caspar Watershed Experiments:  https://www.fs.usda.gov/research/psw/forestsandranges/locations/casparcreek#resources

Several studies from JDSF are presented here:

Redwood Symposiums: https://www.fs.usda.gov/psw/publications/documents/psw_gtr258/

Research Partners:

California Forestry Higher Education Programs

List of Published Research

Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF) is a 48,652 acre working forest. For over 70 years, JDSF staff have been stewards of the forest, practicing sustainable forest management while accommodating hundreds of demonstration and research projects and providing diverse recreational opportunities.

JDSF has a timber inventory of approximately 2.3 billion board feet of conifer trees that grows about 53 million board feet of timber each year. On average, JDSF harvests 14.3 million board feet of conifer timber each year which is approximately 27% of the annual growth. This conservative approach to harvesting results in significant increases in biomass (carbon sequestration) each year and over time.

Timber Harvesting Resources:

Closure Maps:

  • The Jackson Demonstration State Forest Advisory Group (JAG) is an advisory body of the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection (Board). The Mission of the JAG is to provide advice/recommendations to CAL FIRE and the Board regarding issues relevant to the periodic review of the JDSF Management Plan required under Board policy; ongoing implementation issues; and policy matters relevant to JDSF.

Charter & Membership Resources:

Jackson Advisory Group Meeting Notes and Agendas:

2024

2023

2022

2021

Boundary Creek info available under "Timber Harvest"

2020

2019

Caspar 500 info available under "Timber Harvest"

2018

JDSF Office
802 N Main St
Fort Bragg, CA 95437
(707) 964-5674 (Main Office)
(707) 964-5673 (Fire Station)

Please tell us what you think about our website. Send mail to JDSF@fire.ca.gov with questions or comments.

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