It was a big year for redwoods

In 2021, the League secured big conservation wins and planted seeds for a brighter future for redwoods and people

2021 blew by. With a thrilling closer to another monumental year for the League, we barely had our moment to just reflect and say, “We did that.” It’s easy to get swept up and move on to the next thing, but the truth is none of our work is ever behind us. Everything we do toward our centennial vision is taking root right now, shaping this very moment and generating a better future. And beneath the surface, there are even more interconnected pieces just waiting to be revealed. In these early days of 2022, even as we move forward, let’s take time to reflect on a prolific year that will have impacts that reverberate for generations to come. 

Acquiring Lost Coast Redwoods

landscape vista of the rugged coastline, covered in a thick blanket of redwood trees.
The Lost Coast Redwoods property contains more than 2,250 acres of threatened coast redwoods and spans 5 miles of undeveloped Northern California coastline. Credit: Max Whittaker, courtesy of Save the Redwoods League.

In 2019, the League learned that an amazing 3,100-acre redwood timber property in northern Mendocino County was going on the market. After more than a year-long pause because of the pandemic, the prospect became real in December 2020, and it came fast. With incredible support from more than 5,000 donors from all over the country, in one month we were able to close on this tremendous acquisition of 5 miles of the California coast and more than 2,250 acres of redwood forest that could have otherwise been aggressively logged. The League continues to raise funds for the stewardship of this land and plans to work with tribal and public agency partners to give cultural and public access to this once private coast within Sinkyone, Cahto, and Coast Yuki traditional territories. 

Protecting Mailliard Ranch

Woman walking among redwoods at Cathedral Grove at Mailliard Ranch
Save the Redwoods League closed the final phase of the Mailliard Ranch project in February 2021, protecting the property’s east ranch, including the 58-acre old-growth Cathedral Grove. Photo by Marcos Castineiras, Save the Redwoods League.

In southern Mendocino County, we finished the final phase of protecting Mailliard Ranch, a nearly 15,000-acre redwood forest at the headwaters of three critical watersheds. Three easements now protect the entire property, including nearly 1,000 acres of old growth and mixed conifer reserves and 26 miles of salmon-bearing streams. The easements’ protections last forever, regardless of who owns the land in the future.   

Renovated Pfeiffer Falls Trail

Pfeiffer Falls Trail walkway
The Pfeiffer Falls Trail in California’s Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park on June 1, 2021. Save the Redwoods League and California State Parks reopen fully renovated Pfeiffer Falls Trail in Big Sur, June 18, 2021. The Pfeiffer Falls Trail is a 0.75-mile trail segment that leads under the redwoods, down through a gorge to a 60-foot waterfall known as Pfeiffer Falls. Photo by Max Whittaker, courtesy of Save the Redwoods League

After being badly damaged in the July 2008 Basin Complex Fire, the Pfeiffer Falls Trail reopened in June 2021 for hiking, better than ever before. Twelve years in the making, this challenging project has persisted through fires and landslides and is a testament to the great and enduring partnership between Save the Redwoods League and California State Parks. The newly aligned 0.75-mile Pfeiffer Falls Trail offers an improved visitor experience while bolstering the health of the ecosystem. 

Improved Access to Grove of Titans

Grove of Titans giant, 2021
Grove of Titans Trail Reconstruction Project, August 2021. Photo by Max Forster, @maxforsterphotography.

After adventure enthusiasts shared GPS coordinates to the primeval Grove of Titans in 2011, an influx of visitors trampled sensitive understory plants, exposed tree roots, and caused soil erosion. In November 2018, Save the Redwoods League partnered with California State Parks, the National Park Service, and Redwood Parks Conservancy to develop an enhanced, ecologically sound visitor experience at Grove of Titans. In September 2021, the first mile of the renovated Mill Creek Trail was reopened to the public, providing limited access to a new boardwalk through the Grove of Titans. The League and our partners have had the great privilege of working with representatives from the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation to develop interpretive panels that amplify Indigenous history and living culture. 

Wildfire Action

sherman tree wrap
The base of the General Sherman Tree has been wrapped in a protective material called structure wrap, usually used to protect park buildings and other infrastructure from fire.

As we faced another challenging fire season in the giant sequoia range, the League joined a coalition of government agencies, tribes, and nonprofit organizations committed to protecting these iconic forests. The Giant Sequoia Lands Coalition will raise public awareness about the crisis, build the scientific research on wildfire and climate change, and drive action on the ground to improve the forests’ resilience. The League also participated in the drafting of Assembly Bill 642, which further expands the use of prescribed burning, in part by growing and incorporating cultural burning by tribal communities. The bill was approved by Gov. Gavin Newsom in September 2021.  

I’ll Go If You Go

I’ll Go If You Go
I’ll Go If You Go, a Save the Redwoods League podcast

The pandemic halted our planned community events and hindered our opportunities to have face-to-face conversations with community members. To fill this void, we were inspired to launch our first ever podcast, I’ll Go If You Go. The podcast features emergent outdoor leaders and League partners from underrepresented and marginalized communities, illuminating how Californians from all walks of life think about and experience nature and conservation—in the redwoods and beyond. Stay tuned for season 2 in January 2022. 

Connecting With Communities

arcata event
The League’s Jayrlin Molina shows young visitors some of the smaller wonders of nature in Arcata Redwood Park. Photo by Toni Maggi-Brown.

As we experienced some respite from the pandemic, we were able to host a few in-person community events over the spring and summer. In May we checked out some Southern California redwoods in Carbon Canyon Regional Park with Outdoor Asian. We welcomed 140 guests to Arcata Redwood Park and Rohner Park in Fortuna. And in the fall we resumed some of our field trips in Oakland, California, encouraging students to explore the redwoods near home. We hope that these moments in the redwoods have intergenerational impacts on individual and community well-being. 

Building the Redwood National and State Parks Trails Gateway

Aerial photo of the Orick Mill Site
Aerial photo of the Orick Mill Site nestled within the old growth coast redwood forest and trail network of Redwood National Park. Redwood Creek and Bald Hills Road are to the right (east) of the over 20 acres of asphalt that is a remnant of the former lumber mill. Highway 101 runs along the property just out of view at the bottom of the photo with the other parks that make up RNSP extending many miles north. Photo courtesy of John Northmore Roberts & Associates.

The League acquired the 125-acre Orick Mill site in 2013. In 2021 we began construction on a southern visitor gateway to Redwood National and State Parks. The Trails Gateway and Restoration project will include new trail access to these iconic parks, along with other visitor amenities and a Yurok Village Site managed by the Yurok Tribe. The project also will fully restore the ecological integrity of Prairie Creek. The work will be completed in 2025, and the land will be transferred to the National Park Service in 2026. 

Deb Haaland at Redwoods Rising

deb haaland visit RR
League President and CEO Sam Hodder, Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland, and Rep. Jared Huffman at a tour of Redwoods Rising. Photo by Mitchell Hayes.

The League and our partners had the great honor of hosting Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland for a tour of Redwoods Rising, our joint project with California State Parks and the National Park Service to restore 70,000 acres of historically logged redwood forest. Haaland and Brenda Mallory, White House Council on Environmental Quality chair, met with community leaders involved in the partnership and discussed how the program is not only returning the forest to its former glory, but also providing local jobs, building climate resilience, and contributing to the federal goal of protecting 30% of the country’s lands and coastal waters by 2030. 

Redwoods Magazine

Redwoods Magazine - Winter Fall 2021

We published two gorgeous issues of Redwoods magazine (Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter). With stories highlighting the Klamath River dam removal and its link to tribal food sovereignty, a trip to the redwoods of New Zealand, a Redwood National and State Parks travel guide, and a primer on what goes into prescribed burns, our magazine explores the diverse culture of redwoods and the League’s work to protect, restore, and connect the forest to all people. 

Dog-Friendly Redwood Parks Guide

Two women and two dogs in a redwood forest
Oakland’s Joaquin Miller Park is minutes away from the bustling city, a great refuge for dogs and their humans. Photo by Vivian Chen

What do dogs and time in the forest have in common? Both can give you a major dopamine boost. So why not bring the two together for double the fun? We created an e-guide to exploring the redwoods with canine companions, and it was a crowd pleaser. 

Redwood Genome in G3

Redwood Forest Strength Through Genetic Diversity
Benefits of a genetically diverse forest include increased defense against threats, resulting in a more resilient ecosystem.

In Redwood Genome Project news, the League and our partners published new research in G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics, identifying the makeup of the coast redwood and giant sequoia genomes. The research helps us better understand the genetic basis for these species’ ability to adapt to their changing environments. The full data is available on Neale Lab’s UC Davis website. 

Take Me to the Trees

sponsors TMTTT
Guests enjoy a relaxing moment during the League’s in-person event for Take Me to the Trees in Gold Gate Park.

While we were sad that we couldn’t host our annual celebration in person for the second year in a row, we made the best of it with another wonderful live virtual celebration. We connected with hundreds of supporters from all over the world and raise more than $700,000 for our parks and education programs. Relive the magic here. 

Giving TREESday: Save Our Sequoias

Visit to Alder Creek, Redwood Hike Series 2021
Save the Redwoods members visit the League’s Alder Creek giant sequoia property as part of the Redwood Hike Series in 2021. Photo by Georgia Young, League staff.

We had our biggest Giving TREESday end-of-year fundraiser yet! We sent out the S.O.S. to Save Our Sequoias and our donors responded. Over 1,000 people came together to exceed our goal of raising $75,000 to help accelerate our work to train the sequoia stewardship workforce, collaborate with Indigenous practitioners, and prepare giant sequoia forests before next year’s wildfire season. 

We’ve got a lot more in store for 2022. Stay tuned!

About the author

Dana Viloria is Save the Redwoods League's former Writer/Storyteller and Editor. In addition to amplifying people’s stories in nature, she loves building community in the outdoors.

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