League celebrates 4 redwoods champions

California State Parks Week
Photos, clockwise from top left: Max Whittaker, Javier Quesada, Veronica Miranda, Max Forster, @maxforsterphotography

At the kickoff of California State Parks Week, new awards will honor leaders who protect California’s iconic forests and the parks that safeguard them

Kick off California State Parks Week with a redwoods-inspired celebration you won’t want to miss. Join us on June 14, 2023, from 5 to 7 p.m. as we transform California Museum’s outdoor courtyard into a redwood forest.

Enjoy redwoods-inspired cocktails, delicious appetizers by McCalls Catering, a virtual redwood climbing experience, and a preview of the exciting documentary Giants Rising.

Plus, raise a redwood-sized glass to our four new award recipients who champion our parks and iconic forests.

California State Parks Week is an exciting annual event that celebrates the amazing diversity of California’s 280 state park units and the people who visit them. The week advances the Outdoor Access for All initiative championed by Gov. Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, as well as the California Outdoors for All initiative. These efforts expand outdoor access to all Californians through focused investments in open space infrastructure, outdoor programming, and improvements to permit applications, with a priority to expand access in underserved communities.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023
5-7 p.m.

Save the Redwoods League, a longtime partner of California State Parks and one of the nation’s longest-running conservation organizations, has been protecting and restoring redwood forests since 1918. The League has connected generations of visitors with the beauty and serenity of the redwood forests. Our 240,000 supporters have enabled the League to protect more than 220,000 acres of irreplaceable forests in 66 state, national, and local parks and reserves.

We look forward to celebrating with you!

Attendance at this event by a public official will constitute acceptance of a reportable gift.

The awardees

Jim Wood

Redwood Parks Champion: Jim Wood

Assemblymember representing California’s 2nd Assembly District

The Redwood Parks Champion Award recognizes leaders for their dynamic work in protecting, restoring, and connecting people to California’s iconic and vital redwood forests.

Elected in 2014, Assemblymember Jim Wood represents California’s 2nd Assembly District, one of the largest districts by geography and including a large portion of the coast redwood range, stretching from the Oregon border south to Santa Rosa. The district includes many of the state’s most spectacular redwood parks such as Redwood National and State Parks, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve, and Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve.

Wood is a committed supporter of environmental protection and redwood parks; he is especially known for his leadership in securing $15 million in 2021 for Redwoods Rising. This ambitious, landscape-scale restoration project of the National Park Service, California State Parks, and Save the Redwoods League is restoring thousands of acres of young redwood forest damaged by historical logging in Redwood National and State Parks, a globally significant forest. The funds that Wood secured in 2021 resulted in an additional $3 million in National Park Service 2022 Centennial grant funding.

Gail Pellerin

Rising Redwood Parks Champion: Gail Pellerin

Assemblymember representing California’s 28th Assembly District

The Rising Redwood Parks Champion Award recognizes emergent leaders who are making great strides in protecting, restoring, and connecting people to California’s iconic and vital redwood forests.

Elected in November 2022, Assemblymember Gail Pellerin represents California’s 28th Assembly District, including the City of Santa Cruz and much of the Santa Cruz Mountains, east to Morgan Hill. The district includes beloved redwood parks such as Big Basin Redwoods, Año Nuevo, Butano, Castle Rock, and Henry Cowell Redwoods state parks.

Pellerin is prioritizing California policies that protect the environment, promote sustainability, and address climate change. She authored California Assembly Bill 566, which would streamline the process to permanently protect or steward vital landscapes in the Santa Cruz Mountains. This is an insightful bill that will enable the protection of critical coast redwood forest through partnerships between organizations such as Save the Redwoods League and California State Parks.

Joe James

Redwood Park Partner Award: Joe James

Chairman, Yurok Tribal Council

The Redwood Park Partner Award recognizes leaders whose collaboration with government and nonprofit organizations is making a major impact in protecting, restoring, and connecting people to California’s iconic and vital redwood forests.

Chairman Joe James has worked for tribal governments for the last 24 years in the areas of fisheries, water policy and law, infrastructure, cultural resources protection, economic development, and leadership. He has served as the Yurok Tribe’s transportation manager and East District councilmember and was elected as the chairman in October 2018 and as Yurok Economic Development Board President. He was re-elected to his second term as chairman in October 2021.

Under James’ leadership, innovative tribal partnerships with government and nonprofit organizations are protecting and restoring redwood forest habitat. The Yurok Fisheries Department and Yurok Tribe Construction Corporation are implementing the complex, multiphase Prairie Creek restoration project at Save the Redwoods’ Orick Mill Site property, and they are an implementing partner on the Redwoods Rising project to restore with the League, California State Parks, and the National Park Service thousands of acres of historically logged forests in Redwood National and State Parks. The Yuroks’ recent work is already improving critical stream habitat for three threatened and endangered salmonid species. In addition, the Yurok Tribe and California State Parks in September 2022 signed a historic agreement to facilitate the cooperative management, conservation, and interpretation of traditional and natural resources on state park lands within Yurok ancestral territory. This first agreement of its kind applies to redwood parks such as Prairie Creek Redwoods and Del Norte Coast Redwoods state parks, among others.

John Donnelly

Redwoods Lifetime Achievement Award: John Donnelly

Executive Director, California Wildlife Conservation Board 

The Redwoods Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes leaders whose lifetime of achievements have made a profound impact in protecting, restoring, and connecting people to California’s iconic and vital redwood forests.

John Donnelly began his public service career with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in 1988, where he served for eight years as the realty services coordinator, working on the acquisition of mitigation properties required under California Endangered Species Act. In 1996, he joined the California Wildlife Conservation Board, working as a senior land agent. He was promoted in 2004 to assistant executive director, responsible for managing WCB land acquisition programs. Donnelly was appointed as WCB executive director in 2006.

Under his leadership, the WCB has provided more than $70 million over more than 20 years for many of the League’s major redwoods protection projects. The projects include the acquisition of the 8,852-acre San Vicente Redwoods and restoration of Deadman’s Gulch in the Santa Cruz Mountains; conservation easements on the 14,838-acre Mailliard Ranch in Mendocino County; acquisitions of the 10,532-acre Corridor from the Redwoods to the Sea in Humboldt County; and acquisition of 1,540-acre Dillonwood Grove for addition to Sequoia National Park. The projects also include those in or near Redwood National and State Parks: Redwoods Rising, the Redwood Trails Gateway and Prairie Creek Restoration on the League’s Orick Mill Site property, and the acquisition and restoration of the 25,000-acre Mill Creek forest.