Have you ever thought about what it takes to take care of protected land at the landscape scale? Most of us don’t manage areas of land much greater than our own backyards — it’s difficult to think on the scale of acres upon acres. And when those acres are redwood forest, we stewards must find the delicate balance between preservation (keeping things as they are), restoration (undoing past damage) and public access (enabling people to experience special places).
Land stewardship takes a myriad of skills and expertise, not to mention a lot of people-power, and Save the Redwoods League is lucky to have dedicated partners as passionate about conservation as we are.
Last week, I was up in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, home of the Garden Club of America (GCA) Grove. For more than 80 years, the GCA and the League have worked together to protect this land and ensure that people can enjoy the exquisite forest which has stood here for millennia. Thanks to decades of contributions by the GCA, the grove grew to become the third largest in the state parks system, at 5,100 acres! But then, a few years ago, a fire and subsequent storms wiped out trails and bridges, making the grove unreachable.
With California State Parks’ resources already stretched thin, Save the Redwoods League got creative about how to restore access to this special place. We needed help — and that’s where another invaluable partner came in.
The Student Conservation Association (SCA) has been connecting young people with hands-on environmental work since 1957. Right now, an SCA crew is in the process of restoring the GCA Grove, and I got to meet them and see some of their trail work last week. My own career in conservation got its start building and repairing trails over my college summers, so I have a special affinity for the mission of the SCA. These students are doing meaningful and extremely hard work, having life-changing experiences in the outdoors, and some may just become the conservation leaders of tomorrow.
In the GCA Grove, which we began protecting in 1931, the partnership between the League, the Garden Club of America and the SCA is making it possible for people to come to this special place and enjoy its awe-inspiring ancient redwoods once more. Then, the next generations can come here and feel inspired, and maybe even one day join the team of folks from all walks of life coming together to care for the redwoods.
Let’s keep in touch on Twitter! Follow me at @SamH4Redwoods for news and insights about redwoods and conservation.