Sometime between the last photo (1991) and 1996, Gargoyle Gulch was purchased by a Mr. Donald E. Grove. Mr. Grove made many changes to the land, all of which leap out at you in this aerial photo. The biggest difference, the greenness of the land, is only because the photo was taken on May 25th, in the spring; the earlier photos had been taken in July or August, after the grasses had all dried out.
The driveway is much different. It’s now paved with asphalt, and there’s a turnaround area at the entry, because now there’s a security gate barring entrance. Just behind the security gate is a godawful structure consisting of two four-log pillars supporting a crosspiece over the road proclaiming this to be "Sterling Creek Ranch". Of course, the creek running through is Poorman Creek, not Sterling Creek.
You can see that the new asphalting spreads over a large area, including a parking area next to the shop and even some sort of section extending towards the barn. Why would anybody run asphalt over there? You can figure it out with a closer examination. Here’s the before and after shots for that area:
Aside from the great reduction in trees (we’ll get to that), the key change is that rectangular area on the upper right of the 1996 shot. That area was cleared of trees and then a platform of rock and soil was built up, with power lines and telephone lines going to it. Obviously, Mr. Grove intended to build a structure there, probably a residence. The asphalt going to it was meant to provide access for a car. There’s even a parking area set aside (not visible in the shadows). But the house was never built. Now we’re growing trees on that platform.
But the biggest change was the devastation of trees. It’s difficult to estimate, but I believe that Mr. Grove logged 90% of the marketable trees on the land. He left those near the house untouched, and a few along the creek and elsewhere. Otherwise, the place was devastated. Here are a few before and after pictures:
This is the southeast corner of the land; you’re looking at about nine acres of land. As you can see, the land has been devastated. It hasn’t been stripped; they left all the younger trees, taking only the big ones. But they converted a dense forest into a skimpy forest. Here’s another view, just north of this one:
This is about eleven or twelve acres. It wasn’t too dense to start with, but now it’s almost open land. The only things remaining are some madrone trees, some oaks, and a few small pines. That’s it.
This was a disaster for Gargoyle Gulch. I have somewhat mixed feelings. Had Mr. Grove not devastated the land so thoroughly, I would not have been able to afford to buy it. But Gargoyle Gulch is a sadder place because of his depredations.