5 drawings show epic forest restoration in Redwood National and State Parks

See the timeline from industrial logging to majestic old-growth forest in the making

When you picture a redwood forest, you probably envision giant trees, pristine rivers, and a lush forest floor blanketed in ferns. That’s what you’ll see in parts of Redwood National and State Parks, home to 45% of the world’s remaining protected old-growth coast redwoods, including some of the tallest trees.

In other places that were commercially logged before their protection as part of the parks, thin resprouting redwoods and spindly, densely reseeded Douglas-fir trees shade out important wildlife habitats on the forest floor. Competing for resources, these young trees will never reach their potential to be the giants of tomorrow. Eroding old logging roads and failing stream crossings send tons of sediment into nearby streams where threatened salmon and trout spawn. These forests are so damaged that they will not recover on their own in the foreseeable future.

Save the Redwoods League, the National Park Service, and California State Parks are partnering to reverse the extensive damage from logging. The historic effort, called Redwoods Rising, is restoring more than 70,000 acres of the parks’ young redwood forests to ensure their long-term health and that of the plants, animals, and people who depend on them. The goal is to set the forests back on a path to the old-growth majesty of pre-logging times.

Since work began on the ground in October 2019, Redwoods Rising has conducted restoration thinning across approximately 1,000 acres of the dense, young redwood forest, removed 15 miles of old logging roads, and restored approximately 2 miles of stream channel.

The on-the-ground work of Redwoods Rising is complex, but these five illustrations sum it up.

Redwoods Rising illustration 1
Beginning in the 1940s, 50 years of industrial logging took place across 80,000 acres, or about two-thirds of the forests that would later become part of Redwood National and State Parks.

Redwoods Rising illustration 2
Thirty years after logging, these areas’ young forests are dense, dark, and unhealthy. They contain hundreds of miles of eroding and failing logging roads and stream crossings.

Redwoods Rising illustration 3
Today, Redwoods Rising is working to undo this damage by thinning the parks’ young dense forests, restoring streams, and removing old logging roads.

Redwoods Rising illustration 4
Ten years after restoration, the remaining trees are thriving and storing more carbon. The understory is filling out. Salmon and other wildlife are returning.

Redwoods Rising illustration 5
One hundred years after restoration, the forest is showing all the signs of a healthy second-growth forest. Large trees are anchoring a fire-resilient old-growth forest in the making and storing carbon at an incredible rate.

Save the Redwoods League, CSP, NPS

Illustrations by Gary Bloomfield, Bloomfield Studio.
Learn more about Redwoods Rising.
Deb Haaland tours Redwoods Rising, praises partnership.

About the author

Since 1918, Save the Redwoods League has protected and restored redwood forests and connected people with their peace and beauty so these wonders of the natural world flourish.

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