Prairie Creek Scenic Corridor

League Transfers Key Hiking Junction and Wildlife Habitat to Redwood National Park

The League’s recent transfer of the Berry Glen Trail Connection property to Redwood National Park provides a significant portion of the limited habitat used by herds of Roosevelt elks, which draw thousands of tourists and photographers each year. Photo by Paolo Vescia
The League’s recent transfer of the Berry Glen Trail Connection property to Redwood National Park provides a significant portion of the limited habitat used by herds of Roosevelt elks, which draw thousands of tourists and photographers each year. Photo by Paolo Vescia

Land of the World’s Tallest Trees

In California’s rugged northwestern corner lies the Prairie Creek Scenic Corridor, the southern gateway into Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP), home of the world’s tallest trees. This magical corner embraces the parks’ two largest and most magnificent ancient groves. It’s also the kingdom of Roosevelt elks, black bears, bobcats and mountain lions, as well as imperiled species such as coho salmon, northern spotted owls and marbled murrelets.

Generous gifts to the Redwood Land Fund from generations of members have enabled Save the Redwoods League to continue working with our partner organizations and the community to reconnect the parks’ ancient redwood groves, restore prime wildlife habitat for imperiled species, and create a welcoming destination for visitors.

New Grant Helps Protect Imperiled Salmon

A new federal grant awarded in August 2017 will help the League and collaborator California Trout restore habitat for imperiled salmon in the corridor — at the confluence of Prairie and Redwood creeks. Our Lower Prairie Creek Restoration Project received funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to restore rearing, spawning, and over-winter habitat for three species of Endangered Species Act-listed salmon near the southern gateway to Redwood National and State Parks. This award will help restore a critical section of the larger watershed, thereby providing some of the best potential habitat to contribute to the recovery of coho, Chinook salmon and steelhead. The first year of this multiyear award provides $289,500 to continue design, planning, and permitting activities. Subsequent funding up to $603,375 total for 2018 and beyond will be awarded annually, depending on needs and available federal funds. Save the Redwoods League and California Trout are very grateful to NOAA for its partnership and support.

Orick Mill location Map
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2 Land Transfers Are Important Steps in Protecting the Corridor

In 2017, the League made significant steps forward in our 90-year history of protecting lands in the Prairie Creek Scenic Corridor, a patchwork of private property surrounded by parks. The League transferred two properties to Redwood National Park. A 2.5-acre parcel attracts elk herds and the tourists who love to watch them. The 5.9-acre Berry Glen Trail Connection secures crucial wildlife habitat and important trail connections to the park’s two largest ancient redwood groves.

One mile north of the town of Orick and surrounded by RNP forests, the Berry Glen Trail Connection, forested with second-growth redwoods and native brush, sits along a scenic corridor of Highway 101. The transfer was made possible with $87,000 in federal funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) that uses offshore oil and gas lease revenues, not tax dollars, and applies them to environmental conservation.

The Berry Glen Trail Connection property had been a top priority for acquisition by the League and the National Park Service to protect Redwood National Park’s legislatively designated Scenic Corridor from threats such as land development. The transfer also is important for the League and National Park Service to create seamless protected lands along Prairie Creek, restoring the area to provide nature’s benefits and recreation for visitors.

Because of our members’ gifts, we reached our goal. Berry Glen Trail Connection is important for many reasons.

  • A 1-acre wet meadow and forested swamp provides a significant portion of the limited habitat used by herds of Roosevelt elks, which draw thousands of tourists and photographers each year.
  • A tributary of Prairie Creek flows here. Protecting the property safeguards prime habitat for imperiled coho salmon.
  • It’s an intersection of favorite hiking trails. The Berry Glen Trail crosses here, connecting the Lady Bird Johnson Grove, the Lost Man Creek Trail, and Prairie Creek trails. Protecting the property ensures legal trail access, as previous access was by informal approval of the landowner and would have been at risk of being revoked if a future landowner did not allow park access through their property.

In 2015, with help from our donors, the League purchased the property for $75,000. It now joins the 2.5-acre Prairie Creek Tract property, approximately 1 mile north in the corridor, as a new addition to RNP. The Prairie Creek Tract was purchased by the League in May 2011 and transferred to RNP in April 2016, also thanks to LWCF funds. Another significant acquisition to close the conservation gap in the scenic corridor was the League’s 2013 purchase of the 125-acre Orick Mill Site, just to the south of the Berry Glen Trail Connection property.

“It’s an honor to be a part of the permanent protection of the Berry Glen Trail Connection property and its inclusion within Redwood National Park,” said Sam Hodder, League President and Chief Executive Officer. “Not only does this project help ensure the health and vitality of the forest and its habitat for fish and wildlife in the Prairie Creek Scenic Corridor, but it also protects public access in the park and prevents development in the heart of this UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s a wonderful thing to work with our park partners, with the support of the League’s donors and LWCF, to protect this place for future generations of people and wildlife.”

David Roemer, Acting Superintendent of Redwood National Park, reflected on the work that led to the transfer of the property.

“It’s great to work with Save the Redwoods League on protecting the forests where the tallest trees in the world live,” Roemer said. “It takes years and years of hard, collaborative work for these specific projects to come to fruition, so taking ownership of the Berry Glen property is truly a special occasion.”

The League’s purchase of these properties and many others are made possible by the Redwood Land Fund, the League’s most important tool for purchasing, protecting and restoring threatened redwood forestland. Your generous support gives us the financial resources to compete in a complex and fast-paced real estate market, enabling us to buy, hold, restore, study and transfer properties to permanent stewards.

Creating a Gateway to Wonder

At the League’s Orick Mill Site, work is underway on restoring the meadows, creeks and wetlands that once occupied an area converted to a redwood lumber mill. Now the mill no longer stands, but its concrete footprint remains, separating Lady Bird Johnson Grove from ancient groves in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. We’ve removed concrete and invasive plants.

Hub for Discovery, Recreation

With support from The James Irvine Foundation, the League hired Siegel & Strain Architects to develop a master plan for the visitor center. We also hired AldrichPears Associates to plan innovative educational exhibits, as well as LACO Associates to develop a master plan for integrating the development with the landscape restoration of the mill site. Our vision is to create a visitor center that will engage diverse audiences and inspire their love and appreciation for redwood forests.

This center also will offer connections to walking and cycling trails that reach most of RNSP. Because ancient redwoods are a short walk away, this new visitor center site is an ideal hub for recreation.

Another plan for the site is to restore prime habitat for imperiled coho salmon in Prairie Creek, which runs through the property, and to create opportunities for viewing elks. A $300,000 grant from the California State Coastal Conservancy is partially funding studies to inform project planning, with a $100,000 League match. California Trout is managing the restoration and trails components.

“This project ties together all the major components of our conservation work: healing the redwood forest ecosystem, providing habitat for endangered species, building partnerships and creating connections between people and nature,” said Sam Hodder, President and CEO of Save the Redwoods League.

“It’s a thrilling, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Returning Orick Mill Site to Nature

We have been waiting for decades to restore the Orick Mill Site’s meadows, creeks and wetlands. Already, we have made great progress by beginning to remove bamboo and other invasive species with the help of our partners, the US National Park Service and California Conservation Corps. Animals are returning to their former haunt — we’ve seen elks browsing, otter prints on Prairie Creek’s shoreline, and we’ve found ample evidence that bears and mountain lions feel welcome again.

George Sardina, MD, a dedicated Save the Redwoods League member and Councilor, said he supports redwood restoration projects like the Orick Mill Site effort so that future generations can experience the same joy he feels among ancient redwoods — but in logged forests that were set on a path to recovery in his lifetime.

“To see redwoods is to feel awe from the power of nature,” he said.

Dr. Sardina gave a significant gift to help us purchase the Orick Mill Site. Surrounded by ancient redwoods at the confluence of Prairie Creek and Redwood Creek, this area provides critical habitat for threatened salmon.

Gifts like his will allow us to seize other restoration opportunities.

The purchase of Orick Mill Site is a major accomplishment in our nearly 100-year history of protecting what is now Redwood National and State Parks, home to 45 percent of the world’s magnificent old-growth redwood forest and the tallest trees in the world. Here, League members have protected more than 51,000 acres (almost twice the size of San Francisco) for the public to enjoy.

You Can Restore and Share This Treasure

You can make the difference for the Prairie Creek Scenic Corridor and others like it to ensure that the redwood forest continues to heal and thrive.

As a supporter, you can take satisfaction as part of the team that returned this land to the elks and ancient redwood forest and helped share its wonders through a new gateway.

Please make a generous donation today through our secure site or by calling (888) 836-0005.

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