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thinning

What We’re Learning from the Redwoods

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When we take a close look at what makes redwoods survive and thrive, the trees have remarkable stories to tell. That’s what researchers discovered thanks to three studies supported by research grants from Save the Redwoods League over the past Continued

What we do, and why we do it, affects the land — from the smallest flower to the mightiest redwood.

What Is a Conservationist?

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As we at Save the Redwoods League begin to focus on managing and restoring land as much as on acquiring it, we will need to ask ourselves hard questions about what it means to be a conservationist these days. Chief Continued

Various ages of forest after different clear cuts in Mill Creek. Photo by Save the Redwoods League

Big Questions in Restoration

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Ten years ago, the first crews entered the newly-protected Mill Creek watershed.  Their mission: to implement a large-scale experiment in forest restoration. As the result of past logging and misguided reseeding practices, the young forest of the watershed had become Continued

In Mill Creek forest, tree removal experiments explored how to bring old-forest features (such as giant redwoods and diverse plants and animals) to young forests like this one as quickly as possible. Photo by Kevin L. O'Hara

Forest Restoration through Thinning

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For more than half a century, the Mill Creek region in Northern California produced lumber. After clear-cutting, too many seeds were planted, producing a forest in which too many young trees competed for light, water and other resources. Now, thanks to Save the Redwoods League, Mill Creek is protected as part of Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park and is becoming a laboratory for redwood forest restoration. Learn more about this research.

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In this logged forest, alders compete for dominance with Douglas-fir and redwoods. Redwoods here were stunted compared with their relatives in a untouched "old-growth" forest. Photo by Emily King Teraoka

Thinning Would Spur Old-Growth Qualities

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Upland forests in Redwood National Park have been studied extensively. But until a few years ago, less was known about streamside, or “riparian,” forests, which benefit the park’s salmon habitat by providing shade, erosion control and woody debris in the streams. So Humboldt State University graduate student Emily King Teraoka decided to compare two of the park’s riparian forests: one along Lost Man Creek, which had been clearcut between 1954 and 1962; and one along Little Lost Man Creek, which was mostly untouched. Learn more about this research.

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Mill Creek. Photo by Evan Johnson

Thinning Speeds Recovery to Old-Growth

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Dr. Christopher Keyes and Andrew Chittick have found that thinning—removing select trees in a second-growth coast redwood forest—speeds up the forest’s development of old-growth characteristics, which include tall and bulky trees, small gaps in the canopy through which sunlight can penetrate, trees of varying heights, thicker tree branches, understory shrubs and ferns, and healthy young saplings. Learn more about this research.

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