Parks, Planet, Pavement: Redwood Highlights of 2013

A look over our shoulder offers clues as to what lies ahead. Photo by Julie Martin.
A look over our shoulder offers clues as to what lies ahead. Photo by Julie Martin.

While many year-end lists will highlight the accomplishments of 2013, for Save the Redwoods League, the year is best reflected with three major highlights. Together these stories speak of the focus and commitment of the League and its partners, the unique ways in which the redwoods are helping the planet, and a sense of opportunity for the future reflected in a patch of pavement in the heart of redwood country.

Even as they summarize the year past, these stories herald themes that will characterize 2014, as Save the Redwoods League works to protect and restore the redwood range and connect people to its inspirational beauty.

1. 2013 saw the establishment of the Parks Forward Commission, a remarkable collection of volunteer leaders who have responded to the Governor’s call to help envision a more sustainable future for California State Parks.

To put it bluntly, California’s state parks, including the many redwood parks that the League has helped to create, are some of the most beautiful and inspiring places in the world.  For generations, families have explored these uniquely Californian places to lift their spirits, inspire their imaginations, improve their health and create indelible memories of shared joy and beauty.

The Parks Forward Commission has accepted the critical task of ensuring that this system of incredible places is sustained for the long term, and Save the Redwoods League has wholeheartedly linked arms with the Commission, State Parks and other partners to help see this task through.

2. The events of 2013 also put our redwood research activity into remarkable, relevant and current relief.

To fully understand the positive impact that redwood forests are having on our world, and to make sure that our conservation efforts are guided by the best possible scientific data, Save the Redwoods League announced the results of Phase 1 of our Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative (RCCI) in August of 2013.

While even our most accomplished redwood researchers are regularly bowled over by the stories that redwoods can tell, we were amazed yet again by what we found.  Visit our RCCI page for further detail, and learn how these giants are the living scribes of our climatic history and are a hugely significant resource in mitigating the effects of climate change.  We are learning where the old growth is growing most robustly, where carbon is being most aggressively sequestered, where climate change is most dramatic in the redwood range, and so much more.  These incredible trees are teaching us more every day, and the League’s research is helping us be good listeners!

3. My final sample for this past year is a conservation effort that speaks of a destructive past, a path to redemption, and an opportunity to hope for something better.

At the southern edge of Redwood National Park—one of the most inspirational yet least-visited features in the National Park System—is the site of a former mill where, for 60 years, ancient trees were sliced into boards.  Wedged between two incredible old-growth groves, home to the tallest trees in the world, and at the junction of two critical salmon-bearing creeks, is a piece of land that Save the Redwoods League has bought, thanks to your generous support. This land includes 45 acres of pavement—formerly a lush meadow and floodplain.  The Orick Mill site at the gateway of the Prairie Creek Corridor is our shared opportunity to restore a critical landscape and to create a sense of welcome for visitors to this World Heritage site. Your support can accomplish great things here in 2014.

You made all of this possible in 2013. The next year promises to be full of exciting challenges and opportunities, and I look forward to continuing to work with you! Happy New Year, everyone.

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About the author

President and Chief Enthusiast for the Outdoors (CEO) of Save the Redwoods League, Sam brings more than 25 years of experience in overseeing land conservation programs from the remote wilderness to the inner city.

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