Enchanted Redwood Forest, Lost Coast
July 10, 2012: We still need your help to raise $250,000 for the purchase, restoration and stewardship of this property!
We are assessing and prioritizing stewardship and restoration needs of the property's streams and forest, some of which have been damaged from logging. The League will own, steward and manage Shady Dell for the foreseeable future until we can transfer it to a permanent steward.
"California's budget uncertainty could last a decade or more, but this is a drop in the bucket in the life of a 1,000-year-old redwood tree or 50 million-year-old forest," said Pete Mattson, League Councillor (volunteer advisor). "I appreciate that the League takes the long view and acts today on behalf of the future."
Mattson is a member of the Board of Directors of Redwood Forest Foundation, Inc., and the Sonoma Land Trust.
This acquisition also was made possible by The Conservation Fund, Redwood Forest Foundation, Inc. and the State of California Wildlife Conservation Board. These organizations united to protect the Usal Redwood Forest's 50,000 acres, the largest contiguous block of permanently protected coast redwood forest in Mendocino County and the largest conservation project in California in 2011. Shady Dell is part of this larger forest.
See the Shady Dell article in the San Francisco Chronicle. (external link)
Shady Dell harbors a redwood grove that takes your breath and defies belief. Just a few feet off the ground, the trees seem to have been split into a dozen trunks, each reaching to the sky like haphazard candelabra. The medieval "Enchanted Forest" as it's known by locals, is important for forest science.
"We know that these gnarly branches and these strangely shaped trees create needed habitat for wildlife," said Emily Burns, PhD, the League's Director of Science. "We have a lot to learn from these trees. Their development offers clues into how the environment shapes redwood forests."
Strong winds and salty air are believed to have shaped the trees, which are close to the coast.
Because of its steep topography, the Lost Coast contains several ecological zones at multiple elevations from the sea to the ridgeline. The steep slopes of Shady Dell link the sea and the land with a diverse ecosystem.
Shady Dell's diverse ecosystem includes a rich array of wildlife such as salmon, black bears, Roosevelt elk and mountain lions.
"What's unique about Shady Dell is that it is right on the ocean," Burns said. "There is this important landscape connection between water and nutrients and the plants and animals."
"Redwood forests depend on fog water coming in off the ocean, and then they create habitat for salmon to spawn," Burns said, explaining that the trees shade streams and filter sediment to provide the cool, clear waters that the fish need to reproduce.
"In turn, the redwoods get nutrients from fish that come up from the ocean," Burns said. After salmon spawn in redwood forest streams, they die, and the trees absorb the nutrients from their bodies.
Coho Salmon Habitat
One of the most compelling aspects of Shady Dell is its potential to rejuvenate California's flagging coho or silver salmon.
Coho have been steadily declining in California. Most estimates put them at less than 10 percent of historic levels.
For example, in 1945 one surveyor pulled out more than 60,000 juvenile fish from Usal Creek, which runs next to Shady Dell. Today the number of Usal coho may be just in the hundreds, but with careful restoration, this stream has the potential to support thousands of coho again.
The Lost Coast is one of the most rugged, remote and wild places in California. Perhaps that's why so many hikers and surfers consider it the best-kept secret in the state.
From Shady Dell, you don't have to look far to see the League’s work. With support from our generous members, the League helped protect valuable redwood lands in Sinkyone Wilderness State Park. This park has been created mile-by-mile since 1975 and now boasts 22 miles of hiking trails with some of the best camping spots in California — including some right on the beach.
Your support also will help us improve public access to Shady Dell and facilitate the rerouting of the coastal trail away from the county road.
Watch your step in May and June! Poking up through the leaves and sticks on the forest floor of Shady Dell are the pictured flowers. Rare and often hidden in the shady mixed conifer and hardwood forests of the Pacific Northwest, these flowers are called "mycotrophs" ("myco" meaning "fungus" and "troph" relating to nutrition). Mycotrophs depend on fungi for food, unlike green plants, which make their food from sunlight, water and carbon dioxide. Learn more about these unusual plants on the US Forest Service (external link) mycotroph page.
Mycotrophs get sugars from green plants through an intricate network of fungi that grow between the roots of the flowers and the trees. Connected by fungi and the sharing of food, these flowers wouldn’t exist in Shady Dell without their fungal and tree partners.
Mycotrophs are rare because they only occur in places where the partner tree species and fungus are living.
"But even more than that, we only have the chance to see them for a few weeks every year," said Emily Burns, League Director of Science.
Tax-deductible gifts also may be made by phone and through the mail. Please make checks payable to Save the Redwoods League and note your gift is for the Shady Dell project. Thank you for your generous support.
Save the Redwoods League
114 Sansome Street, Suite 1200
San Francisco, CA 94104-3823
Toll Free: (888) 836-0005
If you have questions, or would like to learn more about the Shady Dell project, please contact Membership at (415) 820-5800 or membership@SaveTheRedwoods.org.
You're Keeping an Ancient Forest Reachable
You helped us buy Noyo River Redwoods, a magical ancient forest you can see only by the historic Skunk Train, in 2011. Recently you came to the rescue again. Your gifts helped to repair a collapsed railroad tunnel that shut down the train's famous Redwood Route last April. The tunnel is now open and full Skunk Train service has resumed. You can make sure we're ready to protect and provide you access to amazing forests like this one: Please donate today.