Feature

Changing California’s Story

Forever Forest
The League’s Forever Forest Campaign for the Redwoods is providing support to this project. Learn more

With the public launch of our Forest Forest Campaign, the League scales up our pace, reach, and impact.

Primeval redwood groves, where some of the world’s tallest and oldest trees form nature’s cathedrals, are precious and rare. Once blanketing 450 miles of California coast, the remnant old-growth stands cover just 5 percent of the original range. In the League’s first 101 years, we saved from the axe the best of what was left. But our work is not finished. We shift our focus now to the 1.5 million acres of young, logged forests that surround those islands of ancient trees. These are the old-growth forests of the future—the Forever Forest.

Throughout the League’s history—from the Great Depression, World War II, the Great Recession, and to the current challenge of our time—the resilience of the redwoods has been our driving force and greatest inspiration. Today, we are advancing the mission of Save the Redwoods League at a moment when many in our community are suffering extraordinary hardship. As we collectively weather a global crisis of unprecedented magnitude—the novel coronavirus pandemic and its devastating impact on our daily lives, public health, and the economy—the resilience of the redwood forest gives us hope and a renewed commitment to our Centennial Vision for Redwoods Conservation.

Forever Forest: The Campaign for the Redwoods is an investment in our future. We are healing our natural systems and helping the redwood parks heal us. With our donors, we are accelerating the pace and scale of our redwood land protection, restoring landscapes of young forests across their ancient range, and connecting a new generation with the beauty and power of nature through transformational parks experiences. This campaign is our opportunity to recover what has been lost, build resilience into our forests and communities, and restore the roots that link us together.

Major Successes

Old-growth redwood forest at Mill Creek stands behind a previously logged area that was densely reseeded with Douglas-fir
Now, the work of landscape-scale conservation begins. Landscape scale is all about going big to safeguard the expansive young redwood forests that surround and sustain the islands of old-growth trees. Photo by Redwood National and State Parks.

In the first years of the campaign, the League protected the three largest old-growth groves left in the giant sequoia and coast redwood ranges: Alder Creek and Red Hill, surrounded by Giant Sequoia National Monument, and Harold Richardson Redwoods Reserve in the remote hills of Sonoma County. Most recently, we have protected the Cascade Creek property, which features more than 100 acres of old-growth coast redwoods and safeguards contiguous habitat from the Santa Cruz Mountains to the Pacific Ocean—within easy reach of San Francisco Bay Area communities.

Now, our landscape-scale conservation work begins. We are going big to safeguard from further logging and development the expansive young redwood forests that surround and sustain the remaining old-growth forests. We are currently pursuing thousands of acres of land transactions and advancing negotiations with key landowners in the coast redwood range to purchase property and conservation easements, substantially shifting the balance between protected land and commercially harvested land.

When the forests are out of harm’s way, the work of protection continues through restoration to heal the cut-over land. In Redwood National and State Parks, the League and our partners have launched the most ambitious restoration project ever envisioned in the coast redwood forest: Redwoods Rising. With contributions to the Forever Forest Campaign, combined with public funding, we’re restoring 10,000 acres of young redwood forests over the next five years, accelerating the return of old-growth habitat, carbon storage, and fire resilience.

Benefiting Forests and People

Diverse group of people walking on a redwood trail
The Forever Forest Campaign will connect a new generation with the beauty and power of nature. Photo by Fig & Olive Photography.

This work is not just for the sake of the forest, but also for the 31 million people who visit California’s redwood parks every year. From the League’s earliest days of creating the redwood park system, our mission has been as much about human communities as forest communities. We learned in the early days of the pandemic that we are drawn to the places of beauty that have been protected for us. Within days of California’s shelter-in-place order, people flocked to our parks, reminding us how critical our public lands are for our peace of mind and our sense of community. On our long road to recovery from this crisis, we will need the restorative power of our most iconic forests more than ever.

Today, the League understands the value of inclusive and equitable parks experiences even more deeply, and we realize that a transformation is long overdue. Many parks were designed and built when California had a population of 5 million people, and today the state is pushing 40 million with cultural and ethnic diversity never considered when the parks were created. The League is committed to not only expanding the capacity of our protected areas, but also inviting the communities that were excluded in the past to lead in healing the forests and building the parks of the future.

In a time filled with uncertainty, our purpose has never been clearer. The redwoods survived nature’s cycles for millions of years, but they need us now, and we need them. Together with our supporters, the League will ensure California’s redwood forests are protected forever, restored to grow old again, and connected to all people. That’s how we leave the world better than we found it.

Forever Forest Campaign at a Glance

TURNING THE TIDE

For 100 years, Save the Redwoods League has protected the last of the world’s ancient redwood forests from the axe. Today, we’re poised to shift from slowing degradation to advancing the regeneration of our redwood forests—with your help.

OBJECTIVES

The Forever Forest Campaign is a comprehensive fundraising initiative to raise $120 million to support the early years of the League’s Centennial Vision for Redwoods Conservation. This vision includes protecting entire landscapes through large-scale, strategic land acquisitions; restoring young redwood forests to become the old-growth forests of the future; and connecting all people with the beauty and power of the redwoods through transformational park experiences.

THANKS TO OUR DONORS

Thanks to the early and generous support of our donors, we have raised $80 million toward the campaign goal of $120 million in private philanthropy, which has leveraged $37 million in public funding to support our work. The Campaign is anticipated to continue through December 2022.

A Historic Launch

Forever Forest Campaign Leadership

Get to know the illustrious Chairs behind the Forever Forest Campaign of Save the Redwoods League.

Peggy Light and John Scharffenberger
Photo by Orange Photography.

John Scharffenberger, Chair
A League Councilor and a member of our Board of Directors and Science Committee, John Scharffenberger is also the founder and former owner of the first artisanal chocolate company in the United States, Scharffen Berger Chocolate, and the wine company Scharffenberger Cellars. Through working on his ranch property in Mendocino County, he has had the opportunity to restore redwood forestlands. He has also practiced innovative techniques that have become mainstream, such as ecological forestry, organic farming, humane animal husbandry, and controlled burning.

Peggy Light, Vice Chair
A third-generation League supporter, Peggy Light has a long family history of conserving redwood forests. As a longtime League Councilor and member of our Board of Directors, she played a significant role in the conception of the League’s vision for the next 100 years. Peggy enjoyed a successful career in public accounting, operational auditing, and food distribution, and was Vice President of Rite Engineering and Manufacturing Corporation in Los Angeles for 21 years before her retirement last October. She’s a lifelong nature lover who spends her time hiking, fishing, and traveling.

Ralph Eschenbach and Dr. Carol Joy Provan
Photo by Orange Photography.

Ralph Eschenbach and Dr. Carol Joy Provan, Honorary Chairs
Husband and wife Ralph Eschenbach and Dr. Carol Joy Provan are true friends to the redwoods. Their generous lead gift to the Forever Forest Campaign supported the purchase of our Alder Creek giant sequoia property, the protection of the Cascade Creek coast redwood property, as well as the Redwood Genome Project. Their gift created the critical momentum for the League to advance our ambitious goals for our next century. A retired engineer-turned-entrepreneur, Ralph is a League Councilor and a member of our Science Committee, and Carol is a retired pediatrician. They are both tremendous outdoor enthusiasts, having hiked, bicycled, and run on every continent except for Antarctica.

“Carol and I have been lucky enough to travel extensively and explore many of the great forests of the world. And while we have marveled at the natural beauty we encounter on our travels, we keep coming back to the redwoods as perhaps the most inspiring of all the forests we have visited—forests that are literally in our own backyard,” says Ralph. “We believe it is our responsibility as global citizens to protect the natural wonders of the world, and for us that means California’s coast redwoods and giant sequoia. That is why we have made this commitment to the Forever Forest Campaign, and we hope others will follow our lead and make this a priority in their own philanthropy. Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of this important effort.”

“We believe it is our responsibility as global citizens to protect the natural wonders of the world, and for us that means California’s coast redwoods and giant sequoia.”
Ralph Eschenbach


For more information about Forever Forest: The Campaign for the Redwoods, contact Campaign Director Suzanne Moss via email at smoss@savetheredwoods.org.


Dana Poblete

About the author

Dana Poblete joined Save the Redwoods League in 2019 as writer/storyteller and editor. She has written sustainable lifestyle and travel features, environmental advocacy pieces, and content and copy for print magazines, nonprofits, and mission-driven brands.


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