‘O Rew Redwoods Gateway

A bold vision for Indigenous stewardship and public access at the threshold of a national treasure

Soul-stirring, mist-shrouded, majestic—the spectacular redwood groves of Redwood National and State Parks have provided people from near and far with an opportunity to experience a deep connection with the ancient giants. Yet for decades, visitors arriving via the town of Orick passed a sawmill where the great redwoods were still being sliced into lumber. Even after the mill closed, its aging structures and acres of asphalt marred a crucial redwoods ecosystem near the confluence of Prairie Creek and Redwood Creek. The degraded site was a painful reminder of the area’s complex history of cultural devastation, ecological destruction, and economic hardship, in the heart of traditional Yurok land.

Save the Redwoods League saw this scar on the landscape and recognized an incredible opportunity for healing and renewal. In 2013, with generous member support, the League purchased the 125-acre Orick Mill Site and began developing a restoration plan with local communities and partners. The bold vision: to fully revive this vital ecosystem and create a welcoming visitor gateway to Redwood National and State Parks, featuring an expanded network of hiking trails, engaging exhibits, and a traditional Yurok village for cultural activities and interpretation.

Working toward this ambitious goal, the League began a close collaboration with the Yurok Tribe, National Park Service, California State Parks, and many other key partners. In 2021, the team kicked off a five-year, $23 million restoration of Prairie Creek, led by watershed restoration experts from California Trout and the Yurok Tribe, with the California State Coastal Conservancy as the funding lead. In the first three years, Indigenous crews removed 10 football fields worth of asphalt from their ancestral lands and restored a heavily degraded section of the creek and surrounding floodplain. The dream of a revitalized habitat for salmon, steelhead, and other wildlife was becoming a reality.

Crew walks among native plants planted as part of a revegetation effort at ‘O Rew.
From left, Joseph L. James, chairman of the Yurok Tribe; Rosie Clayburn, tribal heritage preservation officer of the Yurok Tribe; Jessica Carter, director of parks and public engagement of Save the Redwoods League; and Sam Hodder, president and CEO of Save the Redwoods League, walk among native plants planted as part of a revegetation effort at ‘O Rew. Photo by Evan-Marie Petit. @evanmariepetit

An exciting vision for long-term stewardship also emerged—one that honors the deep bonds between the Yurok people and this site, called ‘O Rew in the Yurok language. On March 19, 2024, Save the Redwoods League and project partners signed a landmark agreement, describing our shared commitment to transfer the property to the Yurok Tribe for permanent protection and recreational access, to be co-managed with Redwood National and State Parks. As envisioned, the conveyance would restore full ownership to the site’s original stewards and establish a groundbreaking model for Indigenous land management at the doorstep to a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Having taken this historic first step, the project partners are linking arms for the momentous work that lies ahead. To achieve our ambitious goal of a 2026 conveyance, the partners must finalize agreements and mechanisms for permanent conservation, public access, co-management, and funding. The League will also work to complete a $9 million site enhancement, constructing robust visitor amenities, interpretive displays, and hiking trails at ‘O Rew. This transformation will be part of our ongoing efforts to create a world-class recreational gateway where the Yurok Tribe can welcome the public to explore the majesty of the redwood forest and their ancestral lands through the lens of conservation, revitalization, and living Indigenous culture.

Help us realize this exciting vision for an Indigenous-owned visitor gateway to Redwood National and State Parks. With $7 million identified, the League has launched a public campaign to raise the remaining $2 million needed to transform the site.

Learn more about this important project at the links below.



For media inquiries, contact Robin Carr at (415) 766-0927 or [email protected].
To access hi-res images, b-roll or drone footage, please visit our media resources.




March 2024
San Francisco Chronicle: The entrance to California’s greatest redwood park will soon change
SF Gate: NorCal tribe to take back 125 acres, create new national park entrance
California Trout: Prairie Creek Project Site Land Will be Returned to Yurok Tribe in Historic Agreement
Times Standard: ‘O Rew property to be returned to Yurok Tribe following ‘one-of-a-kind partnership’
KWED: Northern California Tribe to Get Back 125 Acres of Ancestral Land Stolen During Gold Rush
KRCR: Landmark agreement returns 125 acres of historic tribal land to the Yurok Tribe by 2026
AP News: California tribe that lost 90% of land during Gold Rush to get site to serve as gateway to redwoods
Fortune: California tribe that lost 90% of its land during the Gold Rush get back 126 acres with the world’s tallest trees
Local Coast Outpost: Yurok Tribe to Become First in the Country to Co-Manage Land With National Park Service Following Historic Return of Tribal Property at Orick Mill Site
Jefferson Public Radio: Historic agreement creates shared land management between national park and Yurok Tribe



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