As some of you might remember from my favorite iphone apps post, I mentioned that I wanted to delve deeper into the plight of the unbelievably beautiful redwood trees.
Having visited the John Muir National Redwood Park in Marin myself, I can tell you that the majestic beauty of these trees is absolutely breathtaking when you visit them in person.
Some of the Redwood tree’s trunks are so large that you can carve out a tunnel from the bottom of the trunk that is large enough for a mid size car to drive through it.
As you walk through a redwood forest, the smell is wonderful, and you just want to hike all day, breathing in the sweet smelling, fresh air.
A fantastic place to take the family to experience Redwoods in person is the John Muir National Monument. Referred to as Muir Woods, this monument is part of the National Park Service, just north of San Francisco in Marin County. The National Monument is comprised of 554 acres of land and 240 of those acres are home to California Redwoods.
Quick Redwood Tree Facts
California Redwoods are also known as the Coast Redwood or Giant Redwood. There are three types of redwoods including: Coast Redwoods, Giant Sequoias and Dawn Redwoods (smallest redwood found in a remote part of China).
All three types of redwoods are descendants of conifers (cone bearing trees) that were around 144 million years ago during the Dinosaur age. Redwoods got their name from their bark and heartwood with their reddish brown color.
The trees are evergreen and have a life span of 1200-1800 years or more. This is just astounding to me. When you see them in person, it is easy to see how strong they are, but 1200-1800 years is mind boggling.
The Redwoods belong to the species Sequoia sempervirens which is part of the genus Sequoia in the Cypress family. Apparently, the Sequoia is the only living species of the genus Sequoia still around today. This species has some of the tallest trees included in it, standing up to 379 feet tall and 26 feet wide.
We’re Losing our Redwoods
Unfortunately, when commercial logging began in the 1850’s, the number of acres of Redwoods started to decrease significantly. Before the 1850’s, there were 2.1 million acres of redwoods on the coast of California and the southwestern corner of Oregon. Today, in 2012, this number has been reduced by 95%. The lumber from these incredible trees proved to be excellent for building, causing this massive logging of these unique trees. Many of the trees were also lost over the past 160 years due to clearings for housing and retail developments.
After learning more about the redwood’s history, I understand the passion behind the “save the redwoods” efforts, and wanted to find out more.
Save the Redwoods Efforts
Currently, about 82% of the ancient coast redwoods are protected by national parks and reserves. Luckily, more than 90% of the giant sequoia redwoods are protected in national forests and parks. Even with these high percentages of protection, there are still threats to the remaining redwoods.
There are some ancient redwoods that are scheduled to be cut. There are large governmental budget cuts that make it difficult to fund personnel to manage the redwood forests to prevent illegal logging and vandalism. Also, it is unknown how the recent climate changes might affect the remaining Redwood forests. The Save the Redwoods League is conducting a study to examine climate change and its effect on the Redwoods.
The Save the Redwoods League has been working to preserve Redwood forests for over 100 years. They conduct research, provide education about the Redwoods and spearhead fundraising efforts to help buy redwood land, preserve forests and educate the public.
The League recently raised $300,000 to help restore Shady Dell, an amazing Redwood forest located in Mendocino county. Shady Dell is an 11 acre forest with trees that have twisted trunks and branches. These trees are still here today because their bent branches and trunks could not be turned into lumber. These Redwoods are referred to as candelabra redwoods. The Save the Redwoods League recently purchased 957 acres along the coast so that they could save these unique redwood trees.
This purchase is part of a huge transaction where the League purchased 50,635 acres of land in the Fort Bragg area. The Redwood Forest Foundation sold this land to The Save the Redwoods League for 5.5 million, then the Conservation Fund purchased a $20 million conservation easement preventing development in the 40,600 acre Usai Redwood Forest.
When this deal was closed, this officially became the largest working forest conservation easement in
California, as stated by Chris Kelly, program director of the Conservation Fund. The deal links the Usai Forest and Shady Dell in Mendocino county with the Sinkyone Wilderness State Park and Intertribal land and King Range National Conservation Area.
With this convergence of efforts, almost 100,000 acres of productive forestland is now owned and managed by nonprofits. This is pretty amazing and a huge step for conservation efforts nationwide. Its a very inspiring deal that shows with a little team effort, saving these incredible trees is possible.
Great Family Trip
I plan on taking my kids to see Shady Dell and appreciate the beauty and the efforts being made to save these magical trees.