The Power of Partnership Will Protect the Grove of Titans

The extraordinary Grove of Titans. Photo by Max Forster
The extraordinary Grove of Titans contains some of the largest and oldest coast redwoods on earth. Photo by Max Forster

There are three components to the mission of Save the Redwoods League – protect, connect and restore.  We are dedicated to protecting all ancient redwood forests; connecting redwood preserves both to each other and to people; and restoring old-growth characteristics to younger forests.

These are straightforward goals, but their implementation can be complicated. That’s the case with the Grove of Titans in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Discovered in 1998, the Grove of Titans is a stand of gargantuan coast redwoods immured deep in the lush Mill Creek watershed. As their name implies, these are titanic trees; several of the world’s largest redwoods are found here. Their discovery was a momentous occasion in the world of redwoods conservation and science, and soon led to concerns about visitor impacts.

Not surprisingly, people soon found their way to the grove once the word was out. And their numbers swelled dramatically when the GPS coordinates for the Grove of Titans was posted online in 2011. Today, both the foot and vehicular traffic in the area of the grove is, frankly, overwhelming – and destructive.

Since there is no sanctioned route to the Grove of Titans, a vast web of “social” trails has been created. These unauthorized trails compact the soil, destroy understory plants, and damage the roots of the ancient trees. Unplanned trails can cause soil erosion and corresponding run off into nearby Mill Creek, threatening coho salmon runs. Human waste and trash are accumulating, degrading the park’s hallowed stands of redwoods. Traffic on Howland Hill Road, the primary access route along Mill Creek, has increased to the point of literal gridlock during peak seasons.

Exposed roots of ancient tree
By venturing off the park’s official trails, visitors have damaged understory plants and exposed the roots of this ancient tree. Photo by Max Forster
The situation, in short, has become untenable. Recognizing the need for action, California State Parks, Save the Redwoods League, and Redwood Parks Conservancy have conjoined to draft and implement a comprehensive strategy to protect the Grove of Titans, remediate damaged forestlands and assure safe and environmentally sound visitation. Goals include retirement of all social trails, the construction of an elevated walkway to the grove, distribution of educational materials, installation of interpretive signage, installation of restrooms and trash receptacles, and a visitor usage study for Howland Hill Road.

The Grove of Titans project shows that it’s possible to love our redwoods without loving them to death. It also demonstrates the power of partnership. This is an ambitious effort, and it requires coordination and commitment from both the public and private sectors. When we all work together, we’re all beneficiaries – the redwoods included.

Join me by supporting the campaign to save the Grove of Titans in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.

Avatar for Jessica Inwood

About the author

Jessica joined the League in 2011 as the Land Project and Stewardship Manager. She has worked in land conservation since 2005 in land project and stewardship management.

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