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 fortunate to have dedicated partners as passionate about conservation as we are.
Last summer, 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.
The League’s longtime trusted partner, California State Parks, was eager to help repair the damage, but its resources were already stretched thin. We decided it was time to get creative about restoring access to this special place, and we needed more help — 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. Over the summer, an SCA crew made great strides in restoring the GCA Grove, and I got to meet them and see some of their trail work. You can see them in action, too:
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, the SCA and California State Parks 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.
It takes help from all directions to protect the forests we love. Find out more about how the League partners to increase our positive impact, and about how you can get involved.
Let’s keep in touch on Twitter! Follow me at @SamH4Redwoods for news and insights about redwoods and conservation.