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Gov. agencies unite to 'bring back ancient Redwood forest on the North Coast'

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California State Parks announced Wednesday a new commitment to heal preciously-harvested redwood forests through a collaboration known as Redwoods Rising. One of the goals of the initiative is to bring back stands of towering coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) on 40,000 acres of public lands in Redwood national and state parks.

Three agencies have come together to bring forth the initiative: Save the Redwoods League, the National Park Service and California State Parks.

The agencies believe Redwoods Rising will provide more clean air and water, the ability to store carbon, and fight climate change.

"Redwoods Rising fast-tracks the growth of healthy redwood forests on 40,000 acres of parklands," California State Parks officials said.

Redwood Rising, according to the agencies, will create an unprecedented level of collaboration between the three organizations to restore the redwood forests and ensure the parks' entire 120,000 acres exist as a connected forest ecosystem and thriving landscape that supports and protects the natural and cultural treasures found there.

“If our greatest responsibility is to leave the world better than we found it, then healing the redwood forest represents an opportunity of a lifetime. We can actually restore and grow the old-growth forests of the future,” Sam Hodder, president and CEO of Save the Redwoods League said. “We have the tools and the will, and thanks to our generous donors and our national and state park partners, we are taking a major step forward toward leaving California better than we found it.”

Redwood National and State Parks are a UNESCO World Heritage site comprised of Redwood National Park, and Prairie Creek Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods, and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Parks. The parks are home to 45 percent of the world’s remaining protected old-growth redwoods and half of the world’s tallest trees. However, surrounding the primeval Redwood stands are large swaths of younger forest that were once heavily harvested.

Old logging roads spread invasive species and erode sediment into nearby streams, threatening coho salmon and Steelhead trout, the agencies reported.

Coast redwood forests store more carbon per acre than any other forest on the planet — by at least three times, according to Save the Redwoods League.

"One of the environmentally important aspects of accelerating the growth of massive redwoods is that these trees are climate change fighters," the league said in a press release. "So, as we restore the redwood forests, we increase their ability to absorb more carbon. Also, because the trees are so resistant to rot, they hold onto their carbon for a very long time even after they die. This is an effective, natural form of carbon sequestration."

“We are thrilled to collaborate with Save the Redwoods League and California State Parks,” Steve Mietz, superintendent of Redwood National Park said. “Redwoods Rising aligns the public and private sectors to take the next big steps towards restoring these cherished public landscapes. It is a great investment inour future.”

By 2022, the Redwoods Rising collaborative will conduct restoration forestry activities across 10,000 acres of the forested watersheds of Mill Creek and Prairie Creek within RNSP. These forests were clearcut prior to the parks’ establishment, and actively restoring them will reconnect precious remaining old-growth areas, improving habitat quality and resiliency.

“Now more than ever, we recognize that to protect our treasured redwoods, we must invest in the entire landscape,” said Lisa Mangat, director of California State Parks. “Our iconic redwoods provide for us in myriad ways — clean air and water, steelhead and salmon, and plentiful wildlife — just as they inspire us. With a bold initiative now, we can protect these ancient forests from the most extreme effects of climate change, and be confident that future Californians can enjoy their majesty.”

The League has already raised over $2.26 million towards the $5 million goal needed to fund initial projects, including support for the Forest Fellows program, which mentors the next generation of conservation foresters, and a $1 million grant from the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation. Going forward, Redwoods Rising collaborators will work together to cultivate new private philanthropic and public support for the project, with the League as lead and fiscal administrator.

“Our first priority must be our best places, the places where we have the most extensive stands of old trees,” Emily Burns, science director for Save the Redwoods League, said.“ Redwood National and State Parks are our greatest remaining reservoirs of redwood forest biodiversity. They contain the precious and irreplaceable components of the full, complete and healthy redwood ecosystem. It is our job to spread the ecological wealth of these ancient stands into surrounding lands.”

Visit RedwoodsRising.org for additional information.

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