The redwoods are like no other trees... find a secluded grove and tilt your head back 90° and look up into the green canopies above you. Your spirits are bound to rise for you are surrounded by such giants of beauty, beautiful spirits themselves reaching for the sky.
— BODHI SMITH
Through the branches of a giant redwood tree already two thousand years old floats a magnificent butterfly, whose life is only two weeks old.
— DR. SUNWOLF
Being able to see land that has always been locked up, chained up, or blocked off from us is incredible—to see where we roamed at one time.
—CHRIS RAY, SINKYONE/CAHTO/WAILAKI/EASTERN POMO, TRIBAL CITIZEN AND ELDER OF SCOTTS VALLEY BAND OF POMO INDIANS, AND BOARD MEMBER OF THE SINKYONE COUNCIL.
In July 2020, the conservation group Save the Redwoods League, purchased 523 acres of coast redwood forestland from the utilities giant of northern California, PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric) for $3.55 million. PG&E has, in the last few decades, been responsible for some of the worst and deadliest wildfires in California’s history. Reflective of their troubled history, PG&E created a habitat conservation program in hopes of mitigating the environmental damage they’ve caused.
In February of 2022, the Save the Redwoods League donated the 523 acres to the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, thus restoring a small portion of the land to the Indigenous Tribes displaced generations ago by European American settlers. Added to this is PG&E reimbursing the league and council for the purchase (under “transactional cost and management plan preparation”), and contributing a $1.13 million endowment to support ongoing stewardship of the area. As a Tribal Protected Area, this acreage, renamed Tc”ih-Léh-Dûñ,1 becomes a vital addition to 180,000 acres of adjacent conserved lands along the Northern California Sinkyone coast.
The InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, supported by 30 conservation groups, was formed in 1986 and is comprised of ten Northern California Tribal Nations who have inhabited the area for thousands of years. Their main goal is to preserve the forests (read: Redwoods!) along the coastal rainforest of Northern California,2 and restore ancestral lands and waterways once held by pre-contact indigenous tribes. This tribal caretaking of the forest and habit corridor is part of a larger program by the council to empower the ten indigenous tribes. Blending indigenous place-based land guardianship principles, conservation science, climate adaptation and fire resiliency concepts with restoration of tribal cultural values and traditions, the council can insure tribal stewardship will benefit all… humans and trees.
Coast Redwoods also grow along the Pacific coast in Oregon and Washington State in greatly reduced amounts with approximately 10% of the original old growth protected. These trees are helped by local groups doing the same actions as the InterTribal Sinkyone Council…protecting and restoring the land to recreate a sustainable ecosystem.
To quote Save the Redwoods League president and CEO Sam Hodder,
"These communities have been stewarding these lands across thousands of years. It was the exclusion of that stewardship in many ways that’s gotten us into the mess that we’re in."
Millions of years ago, a large portion of the Northern Hemisphere was covered with beautiful, giant Redwoods. Along the northern west coast of California before 1850 (before the gold rush, the rebuilding of San Francisco from the 1906 earthquake and fire, AND California statehood), it was estimated that there were two million acres of old-growth coast redwoods.
Today, primarily due to over-logging and clearcutting, only 5% of that old-growth coast redwood forest remains. Redwood trees are some of the oldest and massive trees in the world. Redwoods are monoecious (monos= single, oikos = house), meaning both male (pollen-producing) and female (seed-bearing) cones are born on the same tree but different branches.
there are three
THE GIANT SEQUOIA3 (Sequoiadendron giganteum) aka Sierra Redwood, live up to 2-3,000 years old. The total amount remaining is fewer than 48,000 acres, distributed in 77 scattered groves along the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Over 90% of this acreage is in public ownership. Giant Sequoias can grow as tall as 275 feet and 30 feet in diameter. They are also the oldest known tree fossils dating back 200 million years. The cones are ovid-shaped (about the size of your hand when the index and pinky fingers touch) and may hold up to 230 seeds. They are coniferous evergreens with awl-shaped, bluish-green needle leaves arranged spirally on a stem. Mature trees are also naturally resistant to fire thanks to their bark that is three feet thick and the lack of flammable pitch.
COAST REDWOODS (Sequoia sempervirens4) aka California Redwood, are one of the Earth’s tallest tree species. Tallest recorded was 380 feet with a diameter of 29 feet.5 The cones are small, about the size of a large olive, and contain three to seven seeds per cone. Coast Redwoods are one of the few conifers that can also reproduce through suckers that sprout from roots and stumps.6 And like the Sequoia, mature trees are naturally fire resistant thanks to their one foot thick bark and the lack of flammable pitch.
DAWN REDWOODS (Metasequoia Glyptostrobides) located mostly in China. Diverged from the above around 150 million years ago, and became deciduous (read: drops its leaves) though still considered a conifer. Grows faster than the other redwoods and has recorded heights of 160 ft. Dawn Redwoods are often used in the bonsai tree market.
1 Pronounced tsih-ih-LEY-duhn, which is Sinkyone for Fish Run Place.
2 Coastal rainforests are located along the Pacific Coast from Prince William Sound, Alaska (61° N) to a little south of San Francisco Bay, California (38° N). These beautiful temperate canopies created by the Redwoods mixed with a mild, wet climate gathers an average of 55” of rain per year.
Coastal rainforests are home to other species of trees, plants and animals. These coastal rainforests also affect marine ecosystems (read: kelp forests, fish, and shellfish), and are critical for the sustainability of these ecosystems and the indigenous cultural traditions associated with them.
3 Pronounced seh-KWOY-ah. Named after 19th century Cherokee scholar, Sequoyah, who invented a system for writing down the Cherokee language. One of the few times in recorded history that a member of a pre-literate people created an original, effective writing system.
4 Latin for “always living”
5 For perspective, the Statue of Liberty is 305 ½ feet tall.
6 AKA fairy rings. Redwood trees grow in a circle, usually around the stump of a logged old-growth tree.
IF THIS THEN...
» Richard Preston’s book The Wild Trees
» MQ's First Design » On the Inside
» Great Green Wall
» Green Belt movement
a small list