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Redwoods Rising

Redwood National and State Parks safeguard almost half of the world’s remaining ancient old-growth redwood forests. These parks also protect the tallest redwoods trees known to exist, imperiled salmon and trout, rare creatures such marbled murrelets and the endangered Western lily. Additionally, these ancient redwoods store more carbon per acre than any other forests on Earth.

Despite their ecological wealth, and stunning beauty, these forests are far from being places of pristine, untouched wilderness. Large swaths of the parks were scarred by decades of logging, which left behind eroding roads, impaired streams, and spindly, young trees that hold neither the magic of an ancient forest nor its ecological strengths.

Redwoods Rising is a new collaboration between Save the Redwoods League, the National Park Service (external link), and California State Parks (external link). It will greatly accelerate the pace of redwood forest recovery within these parks and help protect the area’s remaining old-growth groves.

These partners—and you—hold the key to the future of these forests. Join us to make Redwood National and State Parks a place where giants rise across the North Coast’s landscape once again.


Why Do the North Coast’s Redwood Forests Need Us?

Until the mid-20th century, the coast from southern Oregon to Big Sur was dominated by vast ancient redwood forests. Although the majority of these trees were lost, about 80 percent of the land remains undeveloped. Some 120,000 acres of these undeveloped lands—including 40,000 acres of old-growth forests—are found within the boundaries of Redwood National and State Parks.

Redwood National & State Parks map
Click to view larger map.
Redwood National and State Parks represent a unique partnership of Redwood National Park and Del Norte Coast Redwoods, Jedediah Smith Redwoods and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Parks. The parks host steep mountains cloaked with redwoods, Douglas-fir, and spruce. Rivers and creeks cut deep gorges on their way to the Pacific Ocean, and cooling fog rolling in from the sea provides life-sustaining moisture.

However, these lands also saw about two thirds of their redwood forests logged, some as recently as the 1990s.

In many places these logged areas were replanted with unnaturally dense stands of other species like Douglas-fir, creating a forest today that is very different than what it once was. However, when given the chance, redwood trees can quickly reclaim these previously logged areas. Competing for precious sunlight, the trees grow tall and fast, but sacrificing strength for height makes them vulnerable to storms and disease. These thin, young woodlands do not possess the stable soils and clean rivers that support healthy fisheries and abundant wildlife habitat. Young forests also cannot hold as much sequestered carbon as a mature forest.

The legacy of damage to this landscape goes far beyond the loss of old trees. Eroding logging roads throughout the park send sediment pouring into its streams. Failing stream culverts dramatically alter the movement of water on the land and block fish migration. Invasive plant species also gain a foothold in these disturbed areas.


How Will Redwoods Rising Help?

A collapsed logging road created a debris torrent that eventually scoured 1/4 miles of this stream channel, leaving in its wake countless downed trees and 100,000 cubic yards (or 10,000 dump trucks) of sediment. (Person circled in red shown for scale)
A collapsed logging road created a debris torrent that resulted in countless downed trees and 100,000 cubic yards (or 10,000 dump trucks) of sediment. (Person circled in red shown for scale.)
The damage to this landscape is beyond the point where nature can heal itself. The redwood forests of the future need us, now.

Going Farther Together

Redwoods Rising builds upon decades of research and ongoing redwood forest restoration projects in the parks, bringing a new, collaborative approach that integrates multiple disciplines and leverages the capacity and talents of each organization.

Redwoods Rising will bring the collaborative, landscape-scale visioning, planning, and project implementation necessary to increase the pace of redwood forest restoration. It will provide additional support to improve stream health, restore critical wildlife habitat, and remove invasive species. It will allow us to reconnect remaining old-growth stands, set previously logged areas back on a trajectory towards old-growth conditions, and create landscapes that will be resilient in the face of future climate change.

First Steps

“Our first priority must be our best places, the places where we have the most extensive stands of old trees,” says Emily Burns, science director for Save the Redwoods League. “Redwood National and State Parks are our greatest remaining reservoirs of redwood forest biodiversity. They contain the precious and irreplaceable components of the full, complete and healthy redwood ecosystem. It is our job to spread the ecological wealth of these ancient stands into surrounding lands.”

Old-growth redwood forest at Mill Creek stands behind a previously logged area that was densely reseeded with Douglas-fir. Photo by Lathrop Leonard, California State Parks
Old-growth redwood forest at Mill Creek stands behind a previously logged area that was densely reseeded with Douglas-fir. Photo by Lathrop Leonard, California State Parks.

Mill Creek

Immediately upstream of the spectacular primeval forests of Jedediah Smith, about a quarter of the trees in the 25,000-acre Mill Creek Watershed are less than 30 years old. After it was logged, much of the watershed was seeded with Douglas-fir at ten times normal forest densities. These dense stands do not have the biological diversity of a healthy forest and shade out other plants. Crumbling roads continue to dump sediment into Mill Creek– a major spawning ground for coho salmon and steelhead trout.

While we and California State Parks have thinned more than 4,000 acres of forest, retired 69 miles of roads, removed 344 stream crossings, and installed 90 in-stream log structures since protecting the property in 2002, work here is only beginning. Through Redwoods Rising we will complete restoration on 1,000 acres of the youngest forest, and develop a landscape level restoration plan that will treat the remaining 20,000 acres of second growth forest in the coming years.

The second-growth forest (bottom) creates an over 400-acre gap in the surrounding old-growth forest in the Prairie Creek Watershed (top). Photo credit by Andrew Slack
The second-growth forest (bottom) creates an over 400-acre gap in the surrounding old-growth forest in the Prairie Creek Watershed (top). Photo credit by Andrew Slack.
 

Prairie Creek

State Park lands in Upper Prairie Creek are home to mostly old-growth redwood forest, however the lower reaches of the watershed are a patchwork of young and old forest on both National and State Park lands. The National Park Service has thinned over 1,200 acres of forest, and removed about 60 miles of roads and over 100 stream crossings and other structures in this part of the watershed.

Under Redwoods Rising, we will be able to create 30,000 contiguous acres of old-growth forest in the Prairie Creek Watershed; the largest stand in the world. The League has been working in this part of the park since 1923, and we are thrilled to be able to continue to care for these lands through this new collaborative.


You Can Protect the Forests of the Future. Join Us!

Redwoods Rising was inspired by visionary gifts for the League’s restoration work on the North Coast. Thanks to a $500,000 matching gift offered by League Councilor John Scharffenberger and a generous grant from the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, League supporters have given over $2 million in support of forest restoration in Redwood National and State Parks.

It’s time to restore the redwood range’s original and vast grandeur. It all starts with your gift to Redwoods Rising. Together, we can save the redwoods of tomorrow.

Your Support Will Help Fund:

  • REDWOOD FOREST RESTORATION
    • Removing failing logging roads and invasive species; ecological tree thinning and tree planting
  • SALMON HABITAT RESTORATION
    • Improving water quality and stream crossings; removing migration barriers; providing shelter for young salmon within the streams
  • SCIENCE AND PLANNING
    • Researching and implementing best practices for forest restoration; tracking forest health; sharing what we learn with others
  • FOREST FELLOWS AND APPRENTICES
    • Creating the next generation of forest conservation professionals
  • EDUCATION AND INTERPRETATION
    • Telling the story of forest recovery to inspire park visitors and supporters

 
Donate today

Ways to Give

Contributions to Save the Redwoods League designated to Redwoods Rising are tax-deductible, and can be made as outright gifts of cash or stock and through a donor-advised fund, IRA, or family foundation. You also can give by phone at 888-836-0005 or on our secure online donation page.

If you have questions or wish to learn more, please contact Georgia Young at (415) 820-5849 or gyoung@savetheredwoods.org.


Frequently Asked Questions

Decommissioning a logging road sets the forest on the path to the re-emergence of redwood giants. Photo by MIke Shoys
Decommissioning a logging road sets the forest on the path to the re-emergence of redwood giants. Photo by MIke Shoys
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What is Redwoods Rising?
Redwoods Rising is a collaboration among Save the Redwoods League, the National Park Service, and California State Parks. By coming together, we can work at the pace and scale necessary to restore and reconnect 40,000 of the 120,000 acres of redwood forests in Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP).
When does it start?
Initial conversations about Redwoods Rising began in 2016, but the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that officially formalized the collaborative was signed on April 27, 2018.
What are is primary objectives?
  1. Create a shared restoration strategy among the collaborating organizations
  2. Enhance restoration capacity for larger and more frequent projects
  3. Develop dedicated and increased funding for restoration
  4. Build and expand public support for restoring, protecting, and stewarding redwood ecosystems
Why is Redwoods Rising necessary?
The complexity and costs of restoration continue to increase, making the need for coordinated and efficient project planning, execution, and funding more critical than ever. Scaling up and accelerating the pace of restoration activities across state and federal boundaries is also necessary if these fragmented ecosystems are to be resilient to the harmful impacts of drought, fire, disease, invasive species, and climate change.
How is Redwoods Rising funded?
The three collaborating organizations are providing funds and staff time for surveys, planning, compliance, project management, communication and outreach, and implementation. Individual donors, foundations, and public and private grant funds will also help increase agency capacity and accelerate the pace of restoration efforts.
120,000 acres? Where will you start?
In the next several years, Redwoods Rising will restore 10,000 acres of forest, remove or repair eight miles of abandoned logging roads, and to continue to build capacity for greater collaboration and enhanced restoration of redwood ecosystems within the Prairie Creek and Mill Creek Watersheds.
Won’t nature heal itself if given enough time?
Redwood National and State Parks is home to 45 percent of the world’s remaining protected old-growth redwoods, including the tallest trees. However, surrounding these remaining primeval redwood stands are large swaths of younger forest that were once heavily harvested.

These second-growth forests are unnaturally dense, creating thin trees that do not provide the ecological values or the inspiration of a mature redwood forest. Eroding logging roads thread through the landscape, accelerating the spread of invasive species and sending sediment into nearby streams, threatening endangered coho salmon and steelhead trout.

Such significant damage was done to the landscape, that in many cases natural processes like hydrology, erosion and plant regrowth no longer function the way they would need in order to recover on their own.

Furthermore, fierce competition for light among second-growth trees has led to stands of tall, skinny trees of similar age that are vulnerable to being easily knocked down by wind, rain or snow. In some cases, exotic tree species were planted or aerial seeded following logging operations further altering forest composition.

The goal of Redwoods Rising is to undo this damage to fast-track the development of healthy redwood forests. While it takes hundreds of years for an old-growth forest to form. the techniques being used here can set the restored areas on the trajectory towards old-growth conditions and to help accelerate that process. Some qualities can be created within decades such as a diverse understory and shelter for wildlife, while other features, like complex canopies, fire scars, and very large trees, can take much longer to achieve.


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