Cape Vizcaino Restoration

A rugged landscape recovers

View of the coastline from the hills
Cape Vizcaino shelters old-growth redwood forest, grasslands, chaparral and beautiful, rugged coastline.

Since purchasing the 401-acre property Cape Vizcaino property in 2008, Save the Redwoods League has been helping this Mendocino County landscape recover from decades of logging and ranching. The property is named after Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaíno, who is known for mapping much of the area.

Restoration on the property is being directed by an ecologically-minded forest management plan. This began and continued with the removal of brush and small trees that have unnaturally built up over time due to the lack of natural wildfire. This build-up of fuel can result in severe wildfire that is much more destructive than the low- to moderate-fire that is healthy for this ecology.

Another ill effect of reduced wildfires is that shrubs and trees encroach into meadows and prairies unchecked, and native plants suffer the consequences of competing for space and receiving less light under these taller plants. Many native species face extinction due to this phenomenon, but restoration efforts could save them.

The restoration team is also monitoring the site for threatened and endangered animal species, like spotted owls and a small, elusive bird called the marbled murrelet. Protecting and enhancing the habitat of imperiled wildlife is always a top priority of the League’s redwood forest management plans.

Restoration can also mean deciding what to do with existing infrastructure-this can often mean a defunct mill, sheds, roads or houses. At Cape Vizcaino, the future of such structures is currently being assessed-perhaps they could be revitalized and repurposed for recreational, maintenance or research facilities, or it might be best to dismantle them and let nature reclaim that space.

All of these efforts are orchestrated to help the redwood forest at Cape Vizcaino to reach the old-growth stage once more. With careful management the forest will be healthy and resplendent, with mighty trees on and among which endangered wildlife can live, and where human visitors can find peace and inspiration.

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