Redwoods’ Magic Shines amid Crisis

"Big Tree" in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.
“Big Tree” in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

After a year of anguish, hard work and some heartbreak, the headlines scream “no parks will close.” Well, except for the five that will. And the ones that will be closed during the week, or off-season. And some have no ranger patrols and locked bathrooms. Oh, and it’s only for a year, and then we’re back to square one. What’s that all about?

At the 11th hour, the California Legislature cobbled together $10 million in fund transfers that — when combined with the operating and donor agreements developed by local nonprofits—will ensure most parks stay open. The League and our members are helping in three of these parks. Our approach speaks to our long history with these parks and the long-term perspective that we take from the redwoods themselves. We’re looking past the next 12 months to identify park enhancements and new modes of working that can help turn the downward trajectory we’ve been on for a generation.

I visited one simple example of an enhancement last weekend at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. For years, the aptly named “Big Tree” has drawn visitors. But all those visitors were trampling the roots and damaging the bark. There’s now a new viewing platform, courtesy of one generous family. It both protects the tree and provides a focal point for visitors. Last Saturday I sat and listened to the families and friends visiting and taking pictures by this iconic tree as the ranger prepared to give an interpretive talk. I spoke with two men on Harleys from Ohio who rode across the country to see these giants.

“Oh man, wait until we tell our buddies about this place—they just won’t believe it,” they said. Amidst the doom and gloom of parks, it was refreshing to see the redwoods being appreciated for what they are: world-class icons that take your breath away.

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3 Responses to “Redwoods’ Magic Shines amid Crisis”

  1. Alisa Harrison

    One step at a time! Good job Ruskin! And thank you.

  2. John E. Best

    Magnificent work! I was an engineer on the Six Rivers NF in the 1970’s and was the construction engineer on most of the Gasquet/Orleans Road which extends south from Gasquet, on the Smith River, to Orleans on the Klamath River. When I left, there was a seven mile stretch in the middle that was never built and never logged, as far as I know. The huge Douglas Firs and wild Rhododendrons are beautiful but do not compare with the Redwoods.

    I used to bypass Crescent City on my trips to the project in Gasquet by taking a one lane winding dirt road through the Jedediah Grove. It was an unsurpassed religious experience in the late afternoon with the sun shining through the giants.

    Later I was the construction engineer on the Stanislaus NF and I became aware of a grove of Giant Sequoia’s east of Angel’s Camp. I am not sure if it was managed by the State or the Forest Service. I hope this is being protected.

    When I first started my career for the National Park Service in Yosemite National Park, I spent a lot of time in the Park’s Mariposa and Tuolumne Groves of Giant Sequoia’s. I pray that the conservative morons in Washington don’t sell them off to the highest bidder. This would be a crime.

  3. Joshua Aikens

    Your hard work will keep these beauties available for more to see. I know it’s not a total victory but the fact that its not a total loss is to be celebrated.


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