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To provide Cal Poly students, faculty, staff and the public with a unique interdisciplinary environment in which to foster the Learn by Doing philosophy by providing educational experiences on a working ranch, supporting diversified agriculture and forest resources while maintaining the integrity of ranch operations.

  —Our Mission

Data Sets


Airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) - Swanton Pacific Ranch has an excellent series of LiDAR datasets.

The follwoing quotes about the LiDAR data are taken from this paper:

"Airborne LiDAR surveys of the study area were conducted in March and April 2002, February 2008, and March 2010 for the purposes of evaluating watershed features, evaluating the ability to detect change, and to document improvements in LiDAR capabilities over time."

"Parameters of each flight and specifications of the LiDAR sensors differed across flights, but are not addressed extensively here. One noteworthy difference was sensor pulse rate, which increased from 20,000 pulses per second in 2002 to 100,000 pulses per second in 2008 and 150,000 pulses per second in 2010."

Another dataset, from 2011, is available by download here.

To request the data, email Grey Hayes at

Continuous Forest Inventory

C.F.I. plots are part of long term forest monitoring program on the lands of Cal Poly's Swanton Pacific Ranch that monitor forest conditions over time. Approximately two hundred, 1/5 acre fixed plots are spaced out in a systematic random sampling system over forested areas that results in a 2-3% sample size. Plot measurement began in 1997 and re-measurement occurs every 10 years.

Information taken at each of these plots consists of: plot number, slope, aspect, declination, date, crew, number in crew, plot notes, regeneration tally, tree and snag inventory, species, witness trees, distance and bearing to each tree in the plot, diameter at breast height (DBH) to a .10 inches, height, crown class, height to crown base (HTCB), damage and disease, breast height age, radial growth, plot photos, plot comments, Herbaceous Vegetative Groundcover (consists of species identification and % occupation), student use difficulty, and Poison Oak Level (P.O. level).

The main purpose of this intensive monitoring system is to help us determine what the sustainable levels of harvest are in the forest and how our selective harvesting practices affect the different vegetative communities over time.

To see how this information has been utilized please see the documents section to view the sustainability analysis in our State approved, Non-industrial Timber Management Plans.

To request the data, email Grey Hayes at

Scotts Creek Stream Gauge

Swanton Pacific Ranch maintains a real-time stream gauge that records stream height and temperature at various intervals. Intervals increase during storms and decrease when the precipitation is not so variable.

Data have been maintained since 1/10/2010 in the same location. In some cases, corrections have been applied to the levels recorded.

You can view the real-time data here.

If you would like to get past data, email Grey Hayes at

USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service’s soil climate stations located at Swanton Pacific Ranch

Since late 2011, NRCS has maintained 5 stations at different elevations and distances, and in different vegetation types across Swanton Pacific Ranch. Each station has soil probes that monitor soil temperature and moisture at varying depths, from just below the surface to up to 40" down. The data also include soil moisture at those same depths, air temperature, and precipitation. The sensor depth are labeled in inches, moisture in m3/m3, temperature in degrees C, and precipitation in mm.

To view and graph historic data, go to:

Henry Mount Soil Temperature and Water Database

User name: visitor  Password ReAdOnLy  

To see the data, start entering "SPR" in the name box...the first entries are all from Swanton Pacific Ranch. You can see their location on an adjoining map, plot data from the various sensors, etc.

If you would like to get past data, email Grey Hayes at

Rainfall Data

Swanton Pacific Ranch personnel have collected rainfall data at numerous stations since 1998.

If you would like to get past data, email Grey Hayes at

UNAVCO's EarthScope - Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO) Station

The following information is from the project site:

"The PBO precisely measures Earth deformation resulting from the constant motion of the Pacific and North American tectonic plates in the western United States.

A primary objective of the PBO is to quantify three-dimensional deformation and its temporal variability across the active boundary zone between the Pacific and North American plates.

Centimeter to millimeter-level measurements of surface and near surface motion through Global Positioning System (GPS) stations, borehole geophysics, laser strainmeters, accelerometers, and geodetic imaging has far reaching implications regarding earthquakes, volcanic unrest, subsidence, landslides, extraction or injection of fluids, loading or unloading of water, ice or snow, and other Earth processes.

Sounding of the atmosphere through GPS (i.e., satellite to receiver pathways) to measure total electron content in the ionosphere and precipitable water vapor in the troposphere impacts research regarding space weather, severe weather, and atmospheric dynamics.

Probing of surface conditions through GPS reflectrometry (i.e., satellite to surface to receiver pathways) to measure soil moisture, snow depth, vegetation moisture index, and other features, provides crucial information regarding the water cycle and water resources.

Advances in satellite systems through the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and innovations in GPS and GNSS receivers, other instrumentation, data processing, computing power, and cyberinfrastructure have allowed the scientific community to better address an array of critical scientific and societal problems using space and terrestrial geodetic techniques—in geographically distributed areas."

UNAVCO maintains a PBO at Swanton Pacific Ranch and you can find out more about that station by clicking here

Meteorological Measurements

The UNAVCO station (above) maintains a meteorlogical records up to the recent past, including rainfall, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, temperature, and relative humidity.

To access these data, click here.

Georeferenced Historical Aerial Photographs

Many thanks to Russ White at Cal Poly- we have two ways of sharing historical images, this way and this different way- with comparison tabs.


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Organic U-Pick Apple Orchard...
CLOSED due to CZU Lightning Complex Fire devastation.
Posted September 4, 2020

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