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On the night of June 9, 2011, a large redwood tree fell across the Main Trail at the far end of Cathedral Grove. The redwood tree, full of burls, snapped at the trunk, fell across Redwood Creek, busted asphalt, and sank into the bed of the Main Trail. The trail crew cut the log, repaired the damaged asphalt, and moved the log section to the side of the trail so that visitors may see it. The work was done with a minimum of disturbance to the endangered northern spotted owl which may be nesting in the area. The Main Trail to Fern Creek and Camp Alice Eastwood trails is now open.

We don’t know why the redwood fell or the age of the tree, yet. A redwood tree expert from the University of California, Berkeley, will come to study the tree, soon, and add to the growing body of redwood scholarship.

The park has a new log in the creek and another snag, adding to the complexity of the old growth redwood forest. Snags provide important habitat for nesting birds and bats, shelter from predators and adverse weather, and aerial freshwater catchments for plants and animals. In time, the snag will be covered in moss, ferns, other plants, and fungi – a boon for birds, redwood snails, salamanders, banana slugs, chipmunks, and fox.

Large woody debris from fallen trees divert and concentrate freshwater in ways that shape and sculpt the creek channel. Water flowing under the log scours the creek bed into deep, cool pools in which salmon fingerlings can escape mortality from summer heat waves. In winter when adult salmon return from the ocean, they often use these scour pools and deep channels in their migration to spawning grounds upstream.

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Mailing Address:

Muir Woods National Monument
1 Muir Woods Rd

Mill Valley, CA 94941


(415) 388-2595

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