New Oakland Exhibit Reveals History of Area’s Once-Ancient Forest

The Old-Growth Redwood Heritage Viewing Deck and Interpretive Exhibit includes a viewing platform that allows visitors to view the footprint of a redwood that was 18 feet wide. Photo by Fig & Olive Photography
The Old-Growth Redwood Heritage Viewing Deck and Interpretive Exhibit includes a viewing platform that allows visitors to view the footprint of a redwood that was 18 feet wide. Photo by Fig & Olive Photography

The ancient coast redwoods that once stood in the San Francisco Bay Area’s East Bay were thought to have been some of the largest, possibly reaching 30 feet across. They blanketed the hills of Oakland and were used by ships to navigate through the bay. But, as is the story with 95 percent of the redwood range, the ancient Oakland redwoods were cut from the 1840s to the 1860s. Even the stumps were removed for firewood and shingles. Little remains of the once mighty redwoods that stood hundreds of years ago, except for one giant that’s featured in a new film.

At Roberts Regional Recreation Area (external link) in Oakland, a few old-growth redwood footprints remain among the sea of second-growth redwoods. These sites are great for showing school groups the size of the ancient trees.

Recognizing the importance of these remaining footprints and the story they can tell about the history of the area, Save the Redwoods League partnered with East Bay Regional Park District (external link) to protect an 18-foot-wide footprint and educate the public.

We created the Old-Growth Redwood Heritage Viewing Deck and Interpretive Exhibit, a viewing platform with benches that allows visitors to view the footprint from a safe and elevated location (View location on map). Fencing protects the footprint from trampling. Additionally, a two-sided interpretive panel explains the history of the area through the rings of a redwood tree, reminding us that the first people to live on this land, with the redwoods, were the Ohlone and Bay Miwok people.

The hope is that this new interpretive exhibit will not only protect this remaining footprint, but also remind the public that historically logged forests need our help to become the old-growth forests of the future.

Learn more about the unveiling of the exhibit. To visit the viewing platform and interpretive exhibit, hike to the Redwood Bowl area along the Roberts Ridge Trail. We invite you to take a picture of the exhibit and send it to us through our Instagram or Facebook (external links) pages.

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About the author

Deborah joined the League's staff in 2013 as the Education & Interpretation Manager. She brings with her extensive experience teaching science, developing curriculum and connecting kids to the natural world.

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