A Strong Foundation for Redwoods and Climate Change

RCCI scientist, Stephen C. Sillett, on a branch. Photo by Marie Antoine
RCCI scientist, Stephen C. Sillett, on a branch. Photo by Marie Antoine

I am delighted to announce that the League has received a grant from the San Francisco Foundation to support our Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative (RCCI)! The $100,000, 2-year grant comes from the Foundation’s Evelyn Tilden Mohrhardt Fund, which was specifically established for the protection and preservation of endangered animal species and of redwood trees.

Evelyn Tilden Mohrhardt passed away fifteen years ago, leaving her significant estate in the care of the San Francisco Foundation, which has generously made grants and directed gifts from individuals to the League since the 1950s. This most recent grant represents a renewed commitment to RCCI from the Foundation, which made an initial $50,000 grant to the project in 2011.

Evelyn Tilden Mohrhardt came of age during the Great Depression, and lived an unpretentious and modest lifestyle. Growing up in San Francisco, her family made frequent trips to Big Basin to enjoy the redwoods, as well as to the Calaveras Big Trees area, where her grandfather at one time owned the nearby Murphys Hotel. According to friend and League Councilor Mike Helms, Evelyn’s girlhood experiences outdoors in the redwood forest created connections to the natural world that stayed with her vividly for the rest of her life.

In 1996, when Evelyn dedicated a portion of her estate to care for redwood trees, studying the effects of climate change on the redwoods was not in the forefront of the League’s work. As our work has evolved since then, we see clearly that these ancient trees now stand at a new crossroads of environmental change where the rapid pace of climate changes threatens the redwoods  in ways they have not yet experienced in their long history on Earth. Thanks to individuals like Evelyn who loved the redwoods and contributed to their protection through their estate planning, and funders like the San Francisco Foundation that  generously support pioneering and long-term conservation research, we are living up to the Foundation’s motto “Anyone Can Make a Donation. Together We Can Make an Impact.”

I’m inspired to think that, thanks to work currently underway by the RCCI scientists, and with the support of generous funders like the San Francisco Foundation, future generations of children will have the same chance that Evelyn did to make lifelong connections to the redwoods and the ancient forests they inhabit.

About the author

Deborah joined the League's staff in 2012 and served as the Associate Director of Development. She is now the Director of Gift Planning. She brings over a decade's worth of experience fundraising for conservation organizations in the Bay Area.

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