The visitor center at Muir Woods National Monument has something new to share – an exhibit on canopy exploration.
For the first time, just a few years ago, the ancient and beautiful trees in Muir Woods were climbed for the first time during the Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s Bioblitz. During the event, canopy researchers from Humboldt State University and UC Berkeley found the trees to be healthy and thriving in this small park, visited by a million people every year. This was a great discovery, especially for the dedicated park staff who have worked hard over the years to protect these trees from human impact while sharing their beauty with visitors from around the world.
Through this important research study, scientists were able to determine the age, height, and growth patterns of two trees in Cathedral Grove, a 76m (249ft) coast redwood and a 70m (230ft) Douglas fir. They also documented the biodiversity in the canopy, finding 40 and 57 species of lichen, respectively as well as a small salamander tucked under the bark of the Douglas fir.
Research like this is necessary for our parks, so we can better understand the health of these important ecosystems. Once we determine what is growing in these forests and how the trees are surviving, we can determine the best ways to not only maintain their protection but to help them thrive.
This canopy research is now available to the public in a new interpretive display at the Muir Woods Visitor Center. There, you can read about how scientists study tree rings to understand how the trees respond to changes in climate and get a close look at a tree cookie made from one of the park’s fallen trees. You can also discover how lichen let us know if the air we breathe is healthy and gaze at knitted lichen species found among the redwoods.
Not that you need another reason to visit one of the Bay Area’s best redwood parks, but now you have one. Learn about, discover, and enjoy these towering, old giants and their surrounding forest, flourishing with life.