Researchers just unlocked the genetic codes of our coast redwood and giant sequoia forests, a remarkable milestone in the effort to protect California’s iconic redwood forests and regrow historically logged areas through the protection of the forests’ genomic diversity.
At the California Academy of Science’s new Giants of Land and Sea exhibit, you can explore the forest canopy virtually through an immersive video experience, walk through a fog room to feel how this fixture of coastal climate bathes the redwoods during the summer, and learn about the intrinsic connection between the forest and Pacific Ocean.
We are sequencing the coast redwood and giant sequoia genomes. While the first steps in this project will happen in the laboratory, the goal is to rapidly put this new understanding of redwood DNA to work for conservation. To support vigorous coast redwood and giant sequoia forests in the decades ahead, we will need to protect not only the remarkable structure of the forest, but also protect the genetic diversity that underlies it.
In the depths of winter, an amazing emergence of emerald green ferns appear on cliffs, rocks, and forest tree trucks throughout the coast redwood forest. These delicate beauties are Polypodium glycyrrhiza, commonly known as licorice fern. The species name, glycyrrhiza, means sweet root in Greek and is aptly named because the fern’s rhizome tastes faintly of licorice.
Warning: this topic is gruesome, and awesome. Last week, Land Project Manager Christine Aralia and I walked the Orick Mill Site with Texas State researcher Butch Weckerly. Butch has studied the Roosevelt elk in Redwood National and State Parks since 1997, witnessing local extinctions and population explosions of the elk over the years…
At Yosemite National Park this week, you may see smoke curling up from Mariposa Grove, the spectacular giant sequoia forest that catalyzed the conservation movement 150 years ago. This smoke is part of a planned prescribed burn in the forest to lower fuel loads that have accumulated over many decades of fire suppression.
Hiking with kids can sometimes feel like a forced march, we’ve all experienced kids complaining about walking for walking’s sake. Obviously, the best remedy for reluctant young hikers is regular doses of candy, but the next best remedy is also super fun and does not contribute to cavities! This is a nature color game that is a trade secret of environmental educators and is really easy to play.