What’s in a Year?

The redwood trees have put on another ring since I joined the staff of Save the Redwoods League as president and CEO! It’s been one year since I started my new job and journey with the League, and I have loved every minute of it. Of course, a year is just a blip to the long-lived redwoods, but while they’ve stood by ever patient, we at the League have been busy.

So, while an old-growth redwood can measure its annual productivity in terms of wood volume (about 1.5 cubic meters of wood per year for each tree — that is a lot of carbon sequestered!), we at the League have to find other ways to measure the difference we’ve made.

How about acres protected? Well, San Vicente Redwoods alone is a vast 8,500 acres, and its protection creates a contiguous 27,500 acres of protected woodland within a few miles of the Bay Area — not bad for just one project!

What about discoveries made? In just one 24-hour period, at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s recent BioBlitz, more than 1,500 species of plants, animals, insects, arachnids and fungi were documented! That includes one tiny arboreal salamander found in Muir Woods by League researchers, as they became the first people ever to climb into the canopy of those ancient trees.

Maybe number of park visitors? There were millions of Californians and visitors from around the world this year who came to see the parks that we have helped to protect, and I’m betting that every one of them will never forget the peace and awe that the redwoods inspired.

It’s tough to look back and grasp the contents of a year. Maybe my anniversary at the League is bringing out my sentimental streak, but by my way of thinking, the most rewarding measure of our impact is also the hardest to quantify: the accumulation of moments of joy and inspiration people have found among the redwoods. Just think of all the family memories created this year, the hearts leaping for joy, the eyes widened in wonder. After all, Save the Redwoods League is in the business of “hearts leaping for joy,” so knowing that people are experiencing these magnificent forests every day is our primary measure of success.

Naturally, as so much of our work is grounded in science, I turn to that oh-so-scientific method of measure… yelp.com. Yep, people review their redwood park visits, and every once in a while I check in and see what kinds of experiences people are having in the redwoods — like these recent ones:

Jasmine says of Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve: “39 minutes from the Mission [neighborhood of SF] into an enchanted redwood forest? Yes, please.”

Micah writes of Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve: “Well-maintained, uncrowded, this is a reverential and blissful way to get close to the tallest beings in the universe.”

Sara says of Armstrong Redwoods State Park: “I left this preserve feeling rejuvenated and peaceful.”

This unsolicited feedback is a reminder that people come from all over the world and have experiences like these in the redwoods, every single day. As long as that keeps happening, every year will be a great one.

Tell me about one of your favorite redwoods experiences in the comments section below.

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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