Alder Creek acquisition marks culmination of years of hard work

Editor’s note: Jessica Inwood managed the League’s Alder Creek acquisition.

Alder Creek is now protected.

You have no idea how amazing it is for me to type those words. This 530-acre property is the largest remaining privately owned giant sequoia forest in the world, containing hundreds of ancient giant sequoia. The incredible forest had been on the League’s radar for decades, but the timing and agreement on the price had not aligned until 2017. That year we began making great progress with the landowners, and it’s been a whirlwind ever since.

When I first visited Alder Creek in late 2017, the land was covered by snow. You’ve probably seen the pictures, but there’s really nothing like seeing a grove of ancient Sierra redwoods in the snow – it just erases time and creates this deep silence. And everywhere I looked were these brick-colored behemoths extending seemingly forever into the sky.

Alder Creek Forest. Photo by Max Forster.

I came away from that trip thinking that Alder Creek was the ultimate conservation unicorn, the kind of opportunity that just isn’t supposed to happen these days. How could a place this pristine, this perfect, still exist and be unprotected?

The ensuing months were a blur – negotiations, legal research, board consultations, and more conference calls than you can imagine. Dedicated League professionals – Sam Hodder, Paul Ringgold, Becky Bremser, Harry Pollack and so many others – hammered out detail after detail. After decades of whispers, rumors, and unanswered letters, this was suddenly very real. And we had to be successful because if we didn’t buy it, there was no telling what would happen to it. Thankfully, in January 2019, we signed our first letter of intent with the owners.

Then there was the money. How in the world were we going to raise $15.65 million in four months? Well, you know the answer to that question. More than 8,500 donors from all 50 states and at least 30 countries made gifts large and small to make it happen. Never underestimate the power of these incredible natural landscapes to inspire people.

Honestly, the most inspiring part of this Alder Creek story isn’t the trees. It’s the people who rallied together to save them.

Snow in Alder Creek. Photo by Max Forster.

Now, we’ve got more work to do. Our science, restoration and stewardship team has been busily working on plans to get it in excellent condition, and our parks and public engagement staff will start working on public access planning and development before our eventual transfer of the property to the US Forest Service.

We’re taking the long view with this forest. The League will own it for five to 10 years until we’re sure we’ve planned the best possible future for Alder Creek. Our priority is to protect our coast redwood and giant sequoia forests forever. We believe the US Forest Service is the best long-term steward of this property. It just makes more sense that its stewardship be coordinated with the rest of the giant sequoia groves in the Sierra. The whims of one administration should not dictate our conservation plans.

Our priority is always to ensure the long-term protection of Alder Creek, as we have done for all the redwood forest lands we have purchased and protected over the last 100 years.

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About the author

Jessica joined the in 2011 as the Land Project and Stewardship Manager. She has worked in land conservation since 2005 in land project and stewardship management.

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