Save the Redwoods League, one of America’s oldest and most respected conservation organizations, today announced the public launch of Forever Forest: The Campaign for the Redwoods, a $120 million fundraising effort that has already secured $80 million in support of launching the League’s ambitious Centennial Vision for Redwoods Conservation. That Vision maps out a path to protect and steward California’s iconic redwood forests and reinvest in the state’s redwoods parks.
“We are proud indeed of the work that we and our partners have done over the last 100 years to protect the remaining ancient redwoods and to create redwoods parks that inspire millions of visitors every year. But that’s just the beginning,” said League President and CEO Sam Hodder. “Now, Save the Redwoods League is shifting from defense to offense, growing the resources that will enable us to dramatically scale up our pace, reach and impact, changing California’s story for the next 100 years.
The League’s Vision commits to accelerating the pace and scale of redwood forest land conservation. To that end, just over half of the Forever Forest campaign goal—$61 million—is dedicated to protecting coast redwood and giant sequoia forests in California. Already, funds raised during the quiet phase have gone to acquire and protect such properties as the Alder Creek (2019), Red Hill (2018) and Harold Richardson Redwoods Reserve (2018) properties—the three largest privately owned coast redwood and giant sequoia properties.
Announced today, the League has entered into an agreement to purchase the 564-acre Cascade Creek property in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The property is nestled between Big Basin Redwoods and Año Nuevo state parks, and it will serve to create a continuous corridor of protected redwood habitat from the Santa Cruz Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.
“Cascade Creek has more than 100 acres of ancient coast redwoods and expansive stands of large second- growth redwoods. Right here in the Bay Area, we are protecting a critical piece of our ‘forever forest.’ Interwoven among the ancient trees is a young redwood forest growing back and already well on its way to becoming the old-growth forest of the future,” said Hodder. “The opportunity to connect two state parks and heal a mountain-to-sea landscape helps ensure the long-term ecological health and climate resiliency of the entire region.”
The acquisition and protection of Cascade Creek is predicated on the League raising $9.6 million by May 30, 2020. To date, the League has raised $8.6 million toward that goal. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has committed a significant lead gift; the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST), a project partner, will contribute $2 million; the California State Coastal Conservancy voted last month to approve a grant up to $2.5 million; and private individuals have contributed $1.85 million through the Forever Forest campaign.
Forever Forest campaign lead donors Ralph Eschenbach and Carol Joy Provan were so inspired by the opportunity to save Cascade Creek that they donated an initial $500,000 to launch the fundraising effort. In order to help meet the goal, they have pledged an additional $500,000 if it is matched dollar-for-dollar by May 30, 2020. The public can donate to support the protection and restoration of Cascade Creek at SaveTheRedwoods.org/SaveCascade.
For more information on the Cascade Creek property, please see the fact sheet.
The League’s Centennial Vision also advances restoration efforts to put 800,000 acres of younger coast redwood forests on a path toward becoming the old-growth forests of the future. To launch efforts to meet that ambitious goal, as well as support research that is critical to informing the restoration work, the Forever Forest campaign aims to raise $24 million.
In 2018, the League launched a collaborative restoration project, Redwoods Rising, with the National Park Service and California State Parks. This effort aims to rehabilitate the vast landscape of formerly logged coast redwood forest that constitutes most of Redwood National and State Parks along the northern coast of California.
Supported by the campaign, the first phase of Redwoods Rising restoration work began in late 2019. The initial restoration sites are located in two major watersheds in Humboldt and Del Norte counties. Restoration will address the overly dense and damaged condition of the forest. Redwoods Rising will also remove hundreds of miles of defunct logging roads and restore streams impacted by erosion. When restored, this forest will become the largest contiguous stand of old-growth coast redwoods anywhere in the world.
“Redwoods Rising is nothing short of monumental. It is our commitment to be scientifically guided and environmentally responsible as we restore an entire forest ecosystem that was fundamentally altered by human activities before the parks were established,” explains Hodder. “The redwoods store more carbon per acre than any other forest in the world and provide resilient habitat in a changing climate. By letting our iconic redwood forests grow old again and regain their natural grandeur, we are truly leaving the world better than we found it. Our Forever Forest campaign is aptly named.”
The Forever Forest campaign will also support such important long-term research programs as the Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative, which is exploring the impact of climate change on the forests and how redwoods are supporting efforts to curb carbon impacts. It will also support the Redwood Genome Project—a five-year collaboration with scientists at University of California, Davis, and Johns Hopkins University to sequence the redwood genomes, make the data available to seed research and discovery and build technology that forest managers can use to assess and protect genetic diversity during restoration activities.
The League’s Centennial Vision includes goals for expanding access and deepening engagement of audiences that reflect the diversity of California, as well as creating world-class redwood destinations for current and future generations. The Forever Forest campaign is committing $35 million for initiatives such as the construction of raised walkways that will enable safe and ecologically informed access for the first time to the popular Grove of Titans in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.
The campaign has also supported the development of a conceptual design for a world-class recreation and education destination at the southern gateway to Redwood National and State Parks, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The League is working closely with its public partners to secure the state and federal funds required to realize this shared vision.
Part of envisioning the future of redwoods access is creating the first new redwoods park in 40 years, Harold Richardson Redwoods Reserve in Sonoma County, 100 miles north of San Francisco. Protected by the League in 2018 with Forever Forest campaign support, the 730-acre reserve is 30 percent larger than Muir Woods National Monument. It contains 47 percent more old-growth redwoods. More than 300 old-growth redwoods stand more than 250 feet tall, with many over 300 feet—as tall as the Statue of Liberty. The oldest known coast redwood south of Mendocino County and the widest coast redwood south of Humboldt County has been discovered on the property. It is estimated to be 1,640 years old with a trunk diameter of 19 feet (as wide as a two-lane street).
The League is currently conducting research and planning for public access to land that was in private hands for more a century. “With dedicated support from the Forever Forest campaign, we can develop and open to the public the first new redwoods park to be established in more than 40 years,” explains Hodder. “It will be transformative to have such a significant forest publicly available so close to the millions of residents and visitors in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Forever Forest: The Campaign for the Redwoods is an effort to raise $120 million in private support for Save the Redwoods League to accelerate the pace, reach and impact its work to protect, restore and connect people to the iconic redwood forests of California. The campaign is led by Chair John Scharffenberger and Vice Chair Peggy Light. Ralph Eschenbach and Carol Joy Provan are honorary chairs and are lead supporters of the campaign. Other lead supporters include the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, John Scharffenberger and Dr. John Woollam.