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Author Archives: Emily Burns

Sequoia National Park.

New Initiative to Sequence the Redwood Genomes

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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.

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Ivy and Redwoods

Ivy Can Strangle Redwoods

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I came across a fallen redwood recently that had been severely strangled by English ivy. The redwood had fallen across the road and a cross-section had been cut through the redwood’s trunk, revealing a shockingly think mass of ivy branches tightly wrapped around the tree’s bark.

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Alerce. Photo by andrea ugarte, Flickr Creative Commons

Redwood Relatives South of the Equator

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The beautiful Alerce trees, Fitzroya cupressoides, grow in the cool rainforests of Chile, just to the west of the Andes. The Alerce are members of the same conifer family as the redwoods (the Cupressaceae) and the two species share many striking similarities.

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This detailed drawing by Robert Van Pelt shows that widely-spaced, large redwood trees maintain deep crowns full of leaves while also providing room on the forest floor for smaller trees and understory vegetation to thrive. This forest structure results in record-breaking forest productivity and carbon storage.

Ancient Coast Redwood Forest Breaks Records

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New research by Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative scientists Robert Van Pelt and colleagues reveals no forest on Earth has more biomass – wood, bark, and leaves – then the ancient coast redwood forests of Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP).

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Reese Næsborg and Cameron Williams of UC Berkeley climbing an old-growth Douglas fir. Photo by Tonatiuh Trejo-Cantwell

New York Times Spotlights New League Research

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Redwoods are in the news this week, reminding the world once again that Earth’s tallest trees are truly ecosystems in their own right. Teeming with life from quite literally their roots to their highest leaves, the magnificent coast redwoods are home to hundreds of other species.

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Licorice ferns in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

When Ferns Grow on Trees

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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.

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Wood rose or dwarf rose, is known botanically as Rosa gymnocarpa. Photo by hit_the_snow, Flickr Creative Commons

Coast Redwood Forest’s Native Rose

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Did you know that the coast redwood forest is home to a native rose? The wood rose or dwarf rose, is known botanically as Rosa gymnocarpa. It grows throughout Western North America and commonly grows on the forest floor of … Continued

Amazing (and Grisly) Wildlife Day at Orick Mill Site

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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…

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Giant sequoias in Mariposa Grove. Photo by garden beth, Flickr Creative Commons

Why are Christmas trees pointy on top?

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Christmas is coming and so like last year, I’m answering the question that arises when we sit around our decorated trees: Why are Christmas trees shaped the way they are, pointy on top and wide at the bottom?

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Great Horned Owl

Redwood treetop offers excellent owl perch

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Often during the night I wake to hear the distinctive sound of my neighborhood’s Great Horned Owl calling out. It’s a lovely deep call that sounds like, “hoo-HOO-hoo-hoo” and while I’ve heard it often, I only first laid eyes on the bird last week.

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Yosemite National Park

Revitalizing Mariposa Grove with Rx Fire

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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.

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Life Hack: Fun Hiking Game for Kids

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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.

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Remembering 9/11 and Finding Peace Among the Redwoods

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While working at Save the Redwoods League for the last five years, I’ve met people from all walks of life who share a resounding love for the redwoods. In listening to why people love the redwood forest, I often hear how at peace people feel when they walk among the giants.

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Avenue of the Giants Anniversary

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The beautiful Avenue of the Giants that winds for 32 miles through Humboldt Redwoods State Park was dedicated 55 years ago, on August 27, 1960. Thousands of visitors drive under the towering redwoods that line the Avenue as they visit Humboldt Redwoods to experience the breath-taking majesty of the largest old-growth forest on the planet.

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If Redwoods had Elephants…

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Recently, I had the honor of discussing research and forestry with guests from the Government of India and Michigan State University at Big Basin Redwoods State Park. This gathering was part of the US-India REDD+ Policy Exchange Tour and sponsored … Continued

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