Redwoods and the Passage of Time

Giant in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.
Giant in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

Time.  Einstein said, “Time is an illusion.”

We all feel that it goes by too fast. Dr. Seuss said, “How did it get so late so soon?”

To make a difference, we have to focus on now.  As Mother Teresa said, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”

As we work to protect the redwoods we have to believe that time is not an illusion.  Those magnificent trees grow HUGE over time.  The Sequoia sempervirens in Prairie Creek State Park can live up to 1,500 years old.  The rings in the Sequoiadendron in Sequoia National Park tell us the trees are more than 3,000 years old.  And those towering giants are definitely not an illusion.  They are the embodiment of time.

Yet it is late.  Redwoods and their ancestors have lived on earth for some 160 million years.  Today’s current redwood forests have been present on the California coast for some 20 million years.  Yet we almost lost those forests entirely.  Ninety-five percent of the ancient redwood forests were cut down in slightly more than 100 years!  Dr. Seuss was right.  It did get late soon.  We almost lost all of the old redwood forest.

Now things are different … somewhat.  Thanks to Save the Redwoods League and others, much of the remaining redwood forest is protected in parks.  Also, timber harvest rules provide some protection to privately owned portions of the forest.

But time marches on.  Challenges remain – old and new.

There are many more portions of the old forest to protect, and we have just begun our work in the “saved” redwood forests.  Damage from past logging practices requires restoration, such as removing roads and thinning parts of the forest that have grown back too densely.

People are clamoring to experience these forests – appropriate trails and other facilities must be provided and maintained … and maintained … and maintained.

And the forests have stories to tell us.  Our scientists must watch and listen and study to learn the life of the forest.  Then, we can all learn more about these special and complex places and continue to do a better job of protecting the redwoods.

Yes, Mother Teresa had it right, too.  Yesterday is gone.  It is going to take a long time.  Let us begin.  Today.

Want to do more to help protect redwoods? Check out our list of ways you can get involved!

About the author

Harry joined Save the Redwoods League’s staff in 2011 as the General Counsel. He brings over 30 years of experience in the fields of law and real estate transactions.

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