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Fall Bulletin 2002 ~ Save the Redwoods League

Fall Bulletin 2002 ~ Save the Redwoods League

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09/24/2010

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Giant Sequoias, Yosemite National Park Larry Ulrich Photography 
Save-the-Redwoods League
Fall Bulletin 2002
 
The League’s purchase of the 25,000-acre Mill Creek property on June
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marked the beginning of anew era. The acquisition of Mill Creek provides com-plete watershed protection for Jedediah Smith RedwoodsState Park, and forges habitat linkages betweenRedwood National and StateParks and the inland forestsof the Klamath-Siskiyoubioregion.Securing protection of thiscritical watershed has been akey League objective formore than
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-years. Withthe assistance of over
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members, many conservationpartners, and federal, stateand local agencies, this visionhas been realized. TheCalifornia State Departmentof Parks and Recreation willown and manage Mill Creek to protect and enhance habi-tat for the fish and wildlifethat depend on ancientforests, and to provide com-patible public access,research and education. After more than 50-years of industrial management fortimber production, the aver-age tree at Mill Creek is only decades old. As of June 4,2002, the focus for MillCreek is the restoration of 25,000-acres of ancient forest, for time immemorial.Because of its size and strategic location, Mill Creek presents an excellent opportunity to develop and testnew forest restoration techniques.Unless action is taken,Mill Creek’s young homogeneous forest poses a potentialfire risk and the prospect of centuries of forest stagna-tion. Careful management can stimulate and acceleratedevelopment of large trees with large branch platformsand a multi-layered forest canopy that support the wildlife and natural processes of the ancient forest.Educational opportunities at Mill Creek include scientif-ic monitoring and study to ensure that restoration goalsare being met. In addition, environmental educationalprograms for Del Norte County students are beingdeveloped through the local school system to expandunderstanding of the natural environment and to teachforest land restoration and management skills.The CaliforniaDepartment of Parksand Recreation willmanage Mill Creek inconsultation with an Advisory Committeethat will monitor andreview restoration andrecreational priorities.The Advisory Committee includes rep-resentatives of theLeague, the Departmentof Fish and Game, the Wildlife ConservationBoard, and theCalifornia CoastalConservancy. TheCommittee will draw onexpertise from the many resource professionalsand scientific experts who were engaged indeveloping InterimManagementRecommendations forthe property — a projectled by the League withfunding provided by theCalifornia CoastalConservancy. These recommendations focus on actionsnecessary in the short-term to protect and enhance thenatural resources while allowing compatible public use.The plan is available on the League’s web-site.Mill Creek challenges us all to think on a very broadtime-scale. These young forests will be restored, but it willtake many, many years. Those involved in the project willnot live to see the results of our work — the restorationof thousand-year monarchs at Mill Creek. The purchaseof Mill Creek is the beginning of an era of promise that will be realized only with our continued engagement.
Mill Creek: A New Beginning 
Young forests surrounding the ancient redwoods at Mill Creek will grow to over 300 feet.Photo courtesy of Stephen Corley The lodge at historic Hartsook Inn opened this summer to greet visitors to the redwoods.Photo courtesy Dave Weiman
The League recently purchased an 80-acre forest standin the Santa Cruz Mountains. Ancient redwoods andDouglas firs blanket the steep slopes and small valleysbordering Girl Scout Creek, a tributary of Butano Creek in San Mateo County near Butano State Park.If a con-servation sale was not possible, the former owner wasresolved to sell on the open market,exposing the forest to potential timberharvest and development. As well as expanding protection of the watershed of Butano Creek, it appearedthat the forest might be inhabited by the marbled murrelet.The elusive mar-bled murrelet is a robin-sized, web foot-ed sea bird that nests in specialized con-ditions found only in old growth forests within 30miles of the ocean.Murrelets lay single eggs on top of very large branchesand are extremely vulnerable to predationfrom jays and crows.Marbled murrelets are extremely sensitive to loss of habitat particularly since they do noteasily relocate their nesting sites. The population of mar-bled murrelets in the Santa Cruz Mountains is thesmallest and the southernmost group in the UnitedStates. The marbled murrelet has been listed as threat-ened under the federal Endangered Species Act.This Summer, during marbled murrelet nesting season,researchers, conducting surveys according to a strictly defined protocol,recorded more than100 detections of birds flying abovethe grove and observed ten birdsbelow the canopy level.This confirma-tion ofmurrelet use for courtship andnesting underscores the importance of protecting this remaining stand of theancient redwood forest.The League’s purchase was madepossible in part by a grant and aloan from the California StateCoastal Conservancy.The League isseeking contributions to repay theCoastal Conservancy loan and to cover other acquisi-tion costs totaling $540,000.The parcel will then beadded to Butano State Park for permanent preservationand stewardship.
League Buys Old-Growth Redwoods
Murrelets nesting onsite
The threatened marbled murrelet, a seabird that nests in large branched conifers near the ocean, was seen in the ancient redwoods of  the League’s latest purchase.Photo courtesy of Tim Zurowski 
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This summer the Hartsook Inn was opened by Save-the-Redwoods League and the California Department of Parks and Recreation to greet travelers to the north coastredwoods. The Inn is located on 33 acres in a beautifulstand of old growth redwoods adjoining RichardsonGrove Redwoods State Park in Humboldt County. TheInn had been closed since the League purchased it in1998 to protect the trees from threatened harvest.Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, park aides andvolunteers provided information about the redwoods,the League, and what to see and do in the north coast.Many visitors told stories about past times at the Inn.One guest was a descendent of Fred Hartsook - the man who developed the Inn in the 1920’s. The informationgathered during the summer from the visitors will beinvaluable as the League develops a business plan for thelong-term future of the Inn.
Hartsook Inn
Greeting Visitors to the Redwoods again
 
either words nor images canprepare you for your firstencounter with a monarch giant sequoia.Imagine 150 years ago, chasing a wound-ed grizzly bear through the forests of California’s Sierra Nevada, and suddenly encountering the shaggy cinnamon-redtrunk of a tree so massive that only withoutstretched arms could 16 people encir-cle it. In 1852, in an area now permanent-ly protected as Calaveras Big Trees StatePark, A.T. Dowd, a frontiersman andbackwoods hunter from Connecticut,abandoned pursuit of the bear and staredupward at the massive column thatreached more than 300 feet skyward. At that time, the “big trees”, as the giantsequoias were known, had received littleattention beyond the Native Americans who revered the trees.That soon changed. By 1855, over theobjections of early conservationists, twoof the finest sequoias in the CalaverasNorth Grove were destroyed in order tocreate exhbits. Dowd’s Discovery Tree was cut down in 1853. Then, the fol-lowing year, the bark was stripped off of another tree, the Mother-of-the-Forest,in eight foot sections to a height of 116feet. The bark sections were laterreassembled in order to create a show piece in the Crystal Palace exhibitionhalls of New York City and London.The shell of the Mother-of-the-Forestmade a 20,000-mile journey from theCalaveras Grove through the Port of SanFrancisco, around Cape Horn to theEast Coast and then on to Europe. Thenaked, burnt remains of this tree canstill be seen in Calaveras Grove today.People can also visit the stump of Dowd’s “Discovery Tree” whose base isso large that an early “cotillion party of more than thirty-two persons coulddance on the stump at one time.”The first published description of giantsequoia was included in the journal of Zenas Leonard, a member of the WalkerParty’s 1833 exploration and fur-trap-ping expedition in California. Walkerand his men probably passed throughthe Merced or Tuolumne Grove, now part of Yosemite National Park. It wasn’tuntil Dowd’s “discovery” in 1852, how-ever, that the big trees received wide-spread attention. Calaveras Grove
The Big Trees
Celebrating150years of theGiant Sequoia
became one of California’s primary tourist attractions, drawing visitors whohave continued to come for 150 years tomarvel just as Mr. Dowd did.
Creating Sequoia Parks
By 1890, East Coast and internationalinterest in the giant sequoias led to thecreation of the country’s second nationalpark, Sequoia National Park, to protectthe sequoia groves of the southern SierraNevada. In 1890, a broad based cam-paign was launched at the local, state,and national levels, to save the CalaverasBig Trees from the threat of logging. Inspite of a twelve-year campaign to createa national park to protect the CalaverasBig Trees, the effort failed.In 1926, a second campaign to protectthe Calaveras Big Trees was initiated inconjunction with the movement spear-headed by Save-the-Redwoods Leagueand the Sierra Club to establish a statepark system to protect the Calaveras BigTrees and other natural areas of great sig-nificance. The Calaveras Grove Association was formed to focus localsupport. Finally, in 1928, the people of California passed the state’s first statepark bond act, which provided $6 mil-lion in matching dollars to create theCalifornia State Park System.In 1931, the League and the CalaverasGrove Association, with the pivotal sup-port of John D. Rockefeller and Mrs. William H. Crocker, finally secured pri-vate funds to match park bond funding,and the State purchased 1951 acres inand around the North Grove of Calaveras Big Trees. The North Grove, adense 60-acre stand including more than100 sequoias over five feet in diameter, was the grove Dowd had discovered in1852. The more remote and largerSouth Grove was not acquired until1954 after still another campaign led by the Calaveras Grove Association andSave-the-Redwoods League. The Leaguecontinues working to secure the protec-tion of Calaveras Big Trees State Park.Our latest acquisition, a one-acre parcelinside the South Grove, will completecomprehensive protection for the area.By 2002 the League had assisted withthe acquisition of 2,031 of the Park’s6,500 acres.
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Image courtesy of Calaveras County Historical Society 
The Winter Months
Many people visit the giantsequoias during the warmsummer months, but few have been privileged to seethe silent sequoias draped incloaks of snow in the depthsof winter. Winter can arriveearly and linger late in theSierra. In 1901 John Muirrecounted his experiencehunting the “big redwoods”as they welcomed the firstsnow-storm of the year:“…looming up in the dimclouds and snow-drifts likelighthouse towers in flyingscud and spray...Every bossy limb and crown is solid white, and the immenseheights of the giants becomevisible as the eye travels the white steps of the colossaltower, each relieved by amassof blue shadow” (
 John Muir, Atlantic Monthly, volume 88 
) Whether you strap on snow-shoes and head off muffledby warm clothes, or don san-dals on a warm summer day, we encourage you to journey to the Sierra and meet thesemagnificent trees.Calaveras Big Trees StatePark is open year round,although the road to theSouth Grove is closed duringthe winter. A gentle one-mileloop trail through the northgrove leads the visitor pastthe site of A.T. Dowd’s dis-covery of the giant sequoias150-years ago. A guided traildeep into the heart of the wilderness of the SouthGrove allows for longerexploration.
Larry Ulrich Photography 

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