Author Archives: Emily Burns

Avatar for Emily BurnsEmily Burns, the League’s former Director of Science, led the research program that includes the Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative. She holds a PhD in Integrative Biology on the impacts of fog on coast redwood forest flora from the University of California, Berkeley.

Wild strawberry plant.

Protecting Plantings

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Recently, I visited Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and was surprised to see mesh bags dotting the forest floor. Taking a closer look, I saw a variety of plants hidden under the mesh coverings. Park ecologist Jeff Frey explain the park …

Green Cones Go Red

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Typically, cones mature on the redwood branches in autumn. They turn slightly yellow as the cone scales separate, exposing the seeds hidden within to the elements. Rain then washes away tannic crystals that hold the seeds inside the cones and …

Drought in the Redwoods Makes Headlines

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This week, our research partners from UC Berkeley braved the fall heatwave to check on how some old redwood forests are handling the drought in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I joined them among the redwood giants at Henry Cowell State …

Beautiful from a Safe Distance

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While the colorful display of poison oak leaves turning red in the fall is certainly beautiful among the redwoods right now, the sight is also totally frightening if that plant gives you a nasty rash! Despite most people despising this …

Redwood Weather

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  RCCI researcher Wendy Baxter describes below why we are tracking weather in the woods: Monitoring the local weather and long-term climate is an integral part of the Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative (RCCI). Beginning in 2011, scientists from UC …

77% of Birds and Climate Change Studies Use Community Science

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This study speaks to the incredible need to continue community science projects because they are critical to learning about the planet in a rapidly changing environment, and the volunteer contributions are significantly pushing the research field ahead.

Half Earth

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E. O. Wilson and other prominent biologists have a rallying cry for conservationists like you and me: let’s set aside half of planet Earth as protected wild landscapes and let’s do it right now. In order to provide sheltering and traveling habitat …

White flowers of thimbleberry turn into spectacular red berries in the summer. Are the berries ripe in your neck of the woods?

Berry Picking at its Best

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In the redwood forest, one of the most fabulous transitions every year is seeing spring flowers give way to sweet berries. While I know that I should probably leave the fruit for wildlife, I simply can’t help but taste the …

Bats at the Redwood Treetop

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If you’ve stood in the redwoods near dusk, no doubt you glimpsed bats darting above you. I love to see them, especially when I’m camping, because I know they are hunting pesky mosquitoes. A new research study by Jean-Paul Kennedy, …

Fern Canyon is all its ferny glory.

My favorite hike

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When I am driving north on Highway 101 through Humboldt County and know my destination is the James Irvine trail at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, it’s hard to contain my excitement. This week, Orange Coast shares the history of how …

Longtime League Councillor and research advisor, Bill Libby, says hello to a squawking Steller's jay being studied at Big Basin State Park.

Bird in hand and two in the bush

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Several weeks ago, a wily Steller’s jay outsmarted me while I cooked breakfast under the redwoods in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.  I was about to sit down and eat my scrambled eggs, but decide to first fetch the boiling water off my …

A giant step for understanding redwood tree rings

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Today, Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative scientist, Allyson Carroll, shares her perspective on how she decodes the history of redwoods from tree rings. Imagine finishing a massive puzzle, one involving nearly half a million pieces and taking years to complete… it feels …

Drought Distress

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I stumbled across a sea of sword fern that is showing signs of drought during my annual field campaign last month. Along the Damnation Creek Trail at Del Norte Redwoods State Park, the typically green carpet of sword fern was undeniably …

10th Anniversary Climb

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  This week, I celebrated 10 years of coast redwood forest research and had the pleasure of climbing into an old redwood at the Grove of Old Trees in Sonoma County. This little-known forest is where I learned to climb …

Redwood Canopy Video

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Climbers took to the coast redwood treetops at Muir Woods National Monument for the first time this spring. Their canopy exploration was part of BioBlitz 2014, a massive effort to learn about and celebrate the biodiversity of Golden Gate National Recreation. …

When Tree Rings Become Music

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All the elements combine to shape the trees we walk among every day. We see the result in glorious towering and sometimes twisting trees that curve and arc above us. Deep within the trunk and branches of every tree, wooded …

Treetop Drought

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With the heatwave we are experiencing in California this week, it’s hard to not think about drought. All this dry weather, combined with below-average rainfall, must pose serious challenges for local trees. What’s amazing to me, is that the fantastically …

You helped us protect the Noyo River Redwoods. Photo by Julie Martin

Arbor Day

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“Other holidays repose on the past. Arbor Day proposes the future.”  Quote by J. Sterling Morton, Co-founder of Arbor Day It’s been a significant week for the environment, with the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere exceeding 401 ppm …

Oakland Tech Takes to the Woods

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Last Friday, three school buses motored up into the Oakland Hills with 140 ninth graders from Oakland Tech High School. These students joined us to visit Chabot Space & Science Center and explore the coast redwood forest just beyond. Despite …

Meet the Treetop Lichen

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Lichens contribute such beautiful colors to our redwood forests, growing elegantly on trees, fallen logs, and rocks. Each lichen you see is actually a symbiotic partnership — algae or cyanobacteria wrapped up in a fungal package. Thanks to canopy biologists Rikke Reese Næsborg, Cameron Williams, Marie Antoine, and …