When thinking of redwood conservation, the mind doesn’t naturally jump to a vast expanse of pavement. Save the Redwoods League is hoping to change that. We have just acquired the Orick Mill property in Humboldt County that includes 45 acres of pavement along with the concrete left from the mill foundation, and we see opportunity written all over it.
For almost 50 years this site housed the Orick Mill, where the old-growth logs from what is now Redwood National and State Parks were milled. The property sits at the confluence of Redwood Creek and Prairie Creek, wedged between the two largest old-growth redwood groves in the world. Hiking and biking trails come together nearby as osprey survey the scene from a treetop adjacent to the site. Abutting Highway 101 at the southern entrance into Redwood National and State Parks, this property is the gateway to the world’s tallest trees and a national treasure that draws visitors from around the world! Check out the spectacular locale in this short video:
In stark contrast to other national parks in the system, when all those visitors make their way north to visit Redwood National Park it’s hard for them to tell when they’ve arrived. They have precious few places to stay once they get there, and their opportunities to connect with these remarkable forests are scattered and hard to find.
This gem of a property at the gateway to the northern redwoods, as impacted as it is, reflects an opportunity to do so much more than just conserve and restore a special piece of land. Already, the salmon are coming back up the creeks in greater numbers and the Roosevelt elk are exploring the newly vacant land. And millions of people drive right by the property on 101 wondering where the National Park is.
Now that we own this former mill site and the 100-plus acres of redwood forest around it, the League hopes to begin a conversation about the diverse needs of Redwood National and State Park and explore how this keystone property might offer some solutions. Is this the opportunity that NPS has been waiting for to finally relocate their visitor center? Could there be light lodging on this site to enhance the visitor experience in the park? Given the globally unique nature of this redwood grove, could an education and research facility be incorporated into the restoration activity? And given the confluence of multiple trails that begin and end here, could this site be the recreational hub for this part of the park?
At a time when our redwood parks need our creative thinking and investment, and our mission to protect, restore, and connect people with the peace and beauty of the redwoods is as critical as ever, this 45 acres of pavement translates to an incredible opportunity. Help us explore that opportunity with a gift to our Orick Mill restoration project.