The nonprofit seeks to raise $6.5 million to protect 1 mile of Russian River frontage by September 30
San Francisco, Calif. (August 1, 2023) — Save the Redwoods League today announced that it has secured an agreement with RMB Revocable Family Trust to acquire a 394-acre redwood forest in Sonoma County, named Russian River Redwoods. The deal will ensure long-term protection for the Clar Tree, one of the county’s oldest and tallest coast redwoods, and 1 mile of Russian River frontage near Guerneville. The League is seeking to raise $6.5 million for acquisition and project costs to purchase and temporarily hold the property by September 30, 2023.
“This stretch of the Russian River is one of the most beloved scenic recreation areas in Northern California, and that’s due in large part to the redwoods that line its banks,” said Sam Hodder, president and CEO of Save the Redwoods League. “This opportunity to protect the Russian River Redwoods property is a rare chance to safeguard 1 mile of this scenic riverfront and put nearly 400 acres of redwood forest on a restoration trajectory.”
Nearly all the old-growth redwood trees at Russian River Redwoods were cut down more than 100 years ago—all except the Clar Tree. This ancient giant is believed to be more than 2,000 years old. It is 16 feet in diameter and stands 278 feet tall today, after the intense winter storms of 2023 sheared roughly 30 feet off the top. The Clar Tree is surrounded by younger redwoods that are regrowing from the roots of the ancient giants. There are dozens of mature trees throughout the property, many a century old.
“We are pleased that an agreement has been reached with Save the Redwoods League, and we will be offering the Clar Tree as a donation to the League to ensure its long-term protection,” said Roger Burch, trustee of the RMB Revocable Family Trust.
This coast redwood and Douglas-fir forest is in the traditional lands and Southern Pomo territory of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria. The Russian River is home to steelhead trout and coho and Chinook salmon. Russian River Redwoods includes a half-mile section of Mays Canyon Creek, a well-known stream for steelhead. The site also connects a contiguous habitat corridor of more than 4,000 acres of protected lands, home to northern spotted owls, bobcats, gray foxes and red tree voles.
“Saving this forest and protecting the Clar Tree has been a dream of the local community for years,” said County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, Sonoma Board of Supervisors, District 5. “And now, thanks to Save the Redwoods League, this property will be protected forever. I’m so grateful that when we reached out to Save the Redwoods League, they stepped up in a critical moment. We look forward to contributing funding to support this project.”
The League plans to transfer the land to Sonoma County within a year for long-term stewardship and restoration to improve wildfire resilience and advance the forest toward old-growth form and function. Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District will support and help fund the transfer, and it will receive a conservation easement and recreational covenant over the property to ensure long-term protection and to create an opportunity for future access.
“The benefits of conserving the Russian River Redwoods property are vast,” said Misti Arias, general manager of Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District. “This forest helps recharge our groundwater, sequesters carbon, provides habitat for plants and animals, and so much more. With this acquisition, we are helping to ensure the land is responsibly managed for both natural resources protection and for the health and resilience of our community.”
The public can contribute to this project on the Save the Redwoods League website.
To access hi-res images and b-roll, visit the League’s online newsroom.
One of the nation’s longest-running conservation organizations, Save the Redwoods League has been protecting and restoring redwood forests since 1918. The League has connected generations of visitors with the beauty and serenity of the redwood forests. Our 400,000 supporters have enabled the League to protect more than 220,000 acres of irreplaceable forests in 66 state, national, and local parks and reserves. For information, please visit SaveTheRedwoods.org.