Why We Restore Land and Waterways
We work to restore land to re-create the natural processes on which the forest’s plants and animals depend.
Ron Blubaugh, a Save the Redwoods League member, believes in second chances. In 2005, he and his wife Carola participated in a League-sponsored tour of Mill Creek, a 25,000-acre redwood forest now part of wild and rugged Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park.
The Blubaughs’ visit followed the League-led purchase of Mill Creek in 2002 and the land’s transfer to California State Parks. Before the transfer, Mill Creek had been a logging site for at least 100 years.
During their Mill Creek tour, the Blubaughs saw evidence of the logging: Sediment from eroding roads andclear-cuts threatened to suffocate eggs of endangered salmon in surrounding waterways. Replanting by the loggers had produced unhealthy saplings.
“It was this dense, dark place with little trees all growing together,” Blubaugh recalled. But the guide also showed them an area that had been thinned years before by our longtime partner, California State Parks, thanks to the League and support from generous members like you. “You could see how this was going to become a beautiful stand of redwoods,” Blubaugh said.
“I was struck by two things,” Blubaugh continued. “What an enormous effort it will take to bring that land back into proper condition and what terrific results you can achieve if you make that effort. It was just a matter of money.”
That’s why the Blubaughs generously supported Mill Creek.
At Mill Creek and elsewhere in California’s redwood regions, Save the Redwoods League manages land so that these old forests of the future will harbor clear, fish-filled streams and diverse, native plants and animals. This work helps re-create the natural processes and structures with which the forest’s plants and animals have evolved and upon which they depend for their survival.
In an era in which 95 percent of our ancient redwood forest has been lost to the axe and saw, simply buying land and preventing it from being logged or developed cannot repair the damage done to the vast majority of the landscape.
Ecological restoration is the art and science of fixing what humans have broken. It’s reclaiming these unique forests for the mighty trees, the streams for the fish, the prairies for wildflowers and elk.
Many animals require homes that are only found in ancient forests. For example, big trees offer large cavities and branches on which imperiled spotted owls and marbled murrelets nest.
Younger forests of smaller trees cannot provide the habitat these birds need. It may be true that in centuries these homes might develop, but endangered creatures can’t afford to wait that long.
Younger forests were often planted so densely after logging that the trees cannot grow big because they’re competing for light and water. In addition, an unnaturally high number of Douglas-firs were planted in some areas. We work to restore the natural balance of redwoods, firs and other species. Without our help, these forests will never become a land of breathtaking redwood giants on which endangered animals live.
Another threat to redwood forests is invasive plants such as broom, which crowd out native plants.Erosion is another problem resulting from logging operations and poorly planned roads. Rain carries away the road soil that the forest needs to grow. And sediment from the eroding roads and clear-cuts suffocates eggs of endangered salmon. See a gallery of these harmful features.
Learn how we restore land and waterways.
You can support restoration by donating to our Redwood Land Fund. Help us set these forests on a path to becoming the magical forests they once were.