In February, Save the Redwoods League began the first forest restoration project at San Vicente Redwoods, a critical part of the Santa Cruz Mountains’ ecosystem. The project, which is a first of many, focuses on thinning select trees on 110 acres of land in the property’s 2,700-acre restoration reserve, called Deadman Gulch.
Over a century ago, large swathes of San Vicente Redwoods were clear-cut. Although the forest appears to be fully recovered, it is overcrowded with small, immature trees. By carefully selecting and thinning smaller redwoods, we release competition and give the more prominent, established trees a chance to develop into old-growth giants, which will contribute to the diversity and health of the ecosystem. Years after thinning, we plan to manage the reserve with prescribed burning to eliminate fire hazards and quickly release nutrients back into the environment.
The League has finished the first phase of the project, which is now on pause during the marbled murrelet nesting season and will resume later this fall.
An Essential Part of the Region’s Forests
San Vicente Redwoods is the keystone property in the Santa Cruz Mountains, partly because of its 90 ancient redwoods, but mostly because of its sheer size. It covers 8,500 acres — a sprawling forest 6 miles long and 2.5 miles wide that connects 27,500 acres of contiguous protected woodland
San Vicente Redwoods is home to a variety of rare, threatened and endangered plants and animals, including the California red-legged frog, Shreve and Oracle oaks and Anderson’s manzanita. Endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout inhabit local creeks. Many of California’s signature mammals live here, including black-tailed deer, bobcats and coyotes. The property is so vast that wide-ranging mountain lions have established several nurseries here.
Further, the property provides drinking water for Davenport and Santa Cruz and clean flows for streams supporting imperiled fish. And with 70 miles of unpaved roads and trails, San Vicente offers outstanding recreation potential. Plans are underway to provide public trail access.
A Historic, Multiyear Project
The San Vicente Redwoods conservation effort has started through the Living Landscape Initiative (LLI) (external link), launched in 2011 by Save the Redwoods League, Land Trust of Santa Cruz County (external link), Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) (external link), Sempervirens Fund (external link) and The Nature Conservancy (external link). We are working together to protect this vast property that none of us could protect alone.
Threatened with development and subdivision, San Vicente Redwoods received a reprieve in 2011 when our partners in the Living Landscape Initiative, POST and Sempervirens Fund, purchased the property for $30 million. However, neither POST nor Sempervirens Fund had the financial resources to hold the property long term. They planned to sell or trade San Vicente Redwoods to a permanent steward after securing a conservation easement that would protect the land forever.
Our Living Landscape Initiative partners will apply strict guidelines for sustainable wood harvesting on the property while permanently protecting the features we all value: old redwoods, homes for endangered wildlife, clean waterways and access to recreation. You can see a map of the land uses at San Vicente Redwoods. Habitat restoration in the Restoration Reserve parts of the property may be funded partially through our partners’ sustainable harvesting of young redwoods and other trees in the Working Forest part of the property. Restoration will speed the creation of old-growth forest characteristics, such as giant redwoods, which store huge amounts of carbon and help mitigate global warming.
If you have questions, or you would like to learn more about the San Vicente Redwoods (formerly CEMEX Redwoods) project, please contact Membership at (415) 820-5800 or membership@SaveTheRedwoods.org.
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A cave was recently discovered in San Vicente Redwoods (formerly CEMEX Redwoods). See the video below from KQED about this fascinating discovery.