What is the Mission?
The mission of Redwoods Rising is to protect old-growth stands, restore redwood forest ecosystems, and ensure the long-term health of these lands. Together with redwood enthusiasts, park visitors, local communities, and tribes, we seek to increase support, knowledge, and appreciation of the iconic and unique California redwood forest landscape.
● Collectively: 119,400 acres of forested public lands in Redwood National and State Parks
○ 70,300 acres in Redwood National Park
○ 28,100 acres in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
○ 9,700 acres in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
○ 11,300 acres in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
○ 70,300 acres in Redwood National Park
○ 28,100 acres in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
○ 9,700 acres in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
○ 11,300 acres in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
Partnership Background and Need
What is Redwoods Rising?
Together, we will be implementing a landscape-scale restoration program to improve redwood forest health and conditions across 120,000 acres of public lands in Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP).
Initial conversations about Redwoods Rising began in 2016, and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that officially formalized the collaborative between RNSP and the League was signed on April 28, 2018. Although these three organizations have worked together on past projectst, this is the first time that we have formalized our relationships in this way.
Why is Redwoods Rising important?
This is the very first time that these organizations will have come together to formalize their relationships in this way. It will allow them to define and implement shared goals for redwood forest ecosystem restoration at a landscape scale.
The Redwoods Rising collaborative is a chance to support the tallest forest on Earth in this remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site, together achieving more than any one group could alone, while providing renewed habitat for threatened and endangered species and improving visitor experiences. Redwoods Rising is also setting the biggest acreage goals for collaborative redwood restoration.
Currently, the greatest obstacles to doing work at this scale are a lack of agency staff capacity (related to budget, not talent) and project funding. Save the Redwoods League is perfectly positioned to significantly alleviate these obstacles that would not go away otherwise. The landscape will not be restored at anywhere near the level it needs without this collaborative work to help it along, and without action, these environmental problems will likely worsen.
Who else is involved?
In addition to the three collaborating organizations, Redwoods Rising will engage with many other stakeholders as well as local tribes and communities.
What are the primary goals of Redwoods Rising?
By combining our resources and expertise, Redwoods Rising is promoting the development of healthier, more vibrant redwood forests reminiscent of the old-growth that once blanketed this region. Our aim is to re-connect existing old-growth redwood stands in RNSP and restore old-growth forest characteristics to previously logged areas that have been heavily impacted over the past 150 years.
For the first time ever, we are working together to:
1. Create a shared restoration strategy
2. Enhance capacity for larger and more frequent restoration projects
3. Develop dedicated and increased funding to support ecosystem restoration
4. Build and expand public support for restoring, protecting, and stewarding redwood ecosystems
Where is Redwoods Rising?
The focus of Redwoods Rising is in Redwood National and State Parks, but the collaborative’s long-term vision includes connecting coast redwood forests and corresponding ecosystems across the north coast of California.
What are the objectives and the primary goals of Redwoods Rising?
1. Create a shared restoration strategy among collaborating organizations
2. Enhance restoration capacity for larger and more frequent projects
3. Develop dedicated and increased funding
4. Build and expand the support for restoring, protecting, and stewarding redwood ecosystems
Why is Redwoods Rising necessary?
Through Redwoods Rising we are integrating restoration disciplines and practices to improve old-growth redwood ecosystems. By joining forces we can better support the tallest forests on Earth while restoring and renewing habitat for threatened and endangered species and improving the experience of those who visit these forests.
As the complexity and costs of restoration continue to increase, the need for this kind of coordinated and efficient project planning, execution, and funding is more and more critical. Scaling up and accelerating the pace of restoration activities across jurisdictional boundaries is also necessary if these fragmented ecosystems are to be resilient to the wide-ranging and harmful impacts of drought, disease, invasive species, and climate change.
As managers of these lands, RNSP has been working for decades to restore the redwood forests under their care. The greatest obstacles they have faced have been a lack of adequate staffing and funding. Agency budgets will never be able to meet the full need; however, Save the Redwoods League is perfectly positioned to help raise the support needed to significantly alleviate these obstacles.
Together, we can achieve far more than any of us could alone.
Who else is involved?
In addition to the collaborating organizations listed above, Redwoods Rising is engaging with many other local stakeholder groups and community members through the planning phases of our projects as well as during project implementation.
Funding and GovernanceHow is Redwoods Rising funded?
The collaborating organizations are providing funds and staff time for surveys, planning, compliance, project management, communication and outreach, and implementation. The League is also committed to leveraging additional public and private support to help increase agency capacity and accelerate the pace of restoration efforts.
What is the governance structure?
The current structure of Redwoods Rising includes a Leadership Team, Steering Committee, and Technical Advisory Committees.
What are the roles and responsibilities of each group?
Leadership Team: RNSP, and League, and leadership who meet regularly and work closely with the Steering Committee.
1. Provide direction to the Steering Committee and agency staff to ensure work and staff participation reflect respective agency/organizational governance, planning, policy, and leadership goals
2. Integrate and coordinate strategies to guide future restoration activities
3. Authorize recommendations or actions from the Steering Committee as needed
4. Review and approve vision documents, work plans, and other high-level collaborative agreements and written materials
5. Secure additional funding through formal funding agreements
Steering Committee: Committed group of RNSP and League staff who meet regularly to coordinate the many aspects of Redwoods Rising’s work.
1. Provide day-to-day guidance to advance collaborative work
2. Be the main point of contact for all agency staff on Redwoods Rising happenings
3. Design a governance structure that supports ongoing collaboration, builds capacity across the participating organizations, and leverages new funding
4. Create an overall collaborative vision
5. Define the initiative’s geographic area of focus
6. Creates annual work plans that reflect the overall goals set forth in the vision
7. Prepare recommendations and approaches for implementing eligible project and program priorities to the Leadership Team based upon input from staff via Technical Advisory Committees
8. Develop a landscape-scale restoration strategy
Technical Advisory Committees: Teams of staff with specific expertise and skills in focused geographies or disciplines that may form and dissolve as needed over time to meet project and partnership needs.
1. Provide guidance and expertise on specific topics related to individual projects, geographical regions, or disciplines.
Restoration Goals and Need
120,000 acres? Where do you start?
Our vision is to restore 10,000 acres of redwood ecosystems in the Mill Creek and the Prairie Creek watersheds of RNSP (see project area map at the end of this document), to remove or restore eight miles of abandoned roads, and to continue to build overall capacity for greater collaboration and enhanced restoration of redwood ecosystems.
We are beginning by undertaking the necessary planning and compliance to restore 9,200 acres (including 1,130 acres of existing old growth stands) in the Prairie Creek Watershed and 30,350 acres (including 3,730 acres of existing old growth stands) in the Mill Creek Watershed.
What does Redwoods Rising hope to accomplish in the future?
Our (very) long-term goal is to restore forests of giant coast redwoods in all 120,000 acres of RNSP.
Why restore the forest?
RNSP is home to 45 percent of the remaining protected old-growth redwoods, including the tallest trees in the world. However, 80,000 of the 120,000 acres of RNSP’s redwood forests were logged before they became part of the parks. Large swaths of too-dense, young forests that have grown up in these areas surrounding the remaining primeval redwood stands.
Some of these second-growth forests have grown back on their own, but many are a result of re-seeding or planting by logging companies after they harvested the original old-growth redwoods—often with non-redwood species such as Douglas-fir. Trees in these reseeded areas in particular are unnaturally dense, with as many as 10 times the number of trees per acre as an old-growth forest. These thin trees are desperately competing for space, light, water, and nutrients, crowding each other as well as important understory vegetation. These forests are not healthy and do not provide anywhere near the ecological values of a mature redwood forest.
Furthermore, eroding old logging roads thread through the landscape, accelerating the spread of invasive species and sending sediment into nearby streams, potentially threatening endangered coho salmon and steelhead trout. Existing culverts and stream crossings installed by the logging companies that have not been maintained are also vulnerable to failure.
The goal of Redwoods Rising is to help undo this damage to fast-track the development of healthy redwood forests.
What are you restoring?
Previously logged second-growth forests are our primary focus; however, Redwoods Rising is also restoring streams and other associated ecosystems that are a part of a healthy landscape.
Were all of the logged areas in RNSP totally clear-cut?
Although many areas were clear-cut, in some places there are still old-growth trees scattered here and there among second-growth forests. These trees are reservoirs of genetic information and biological richness that can help support forest recovery. They also provide habitat for species that depend on old-growth trees, even within otherwise young stands. These trees also benefit from restoration activities that reduce competition for resources and that allow them room to reproduce through seeds or resprouting. By improving conditions around these residual trees, we in turn enhance their protection and habitat quality as well.
What are the characteristics of old-growth redwoods and why are they important?
The giant redwood trees of an old-growth forest have intricate canopies that create habitat, store large amounts of carbon and maintain high levels of biodiversity. Some species, such as marbled murrelets and Humboldt martins require old-growth conditions to survive. Less than 5% of the historical range of these forests remains.
Some characteristics of old-growth forests include:
1. Big, old trees of varying height, girth, and age
2. Large snags, or standing dead trees that provide habitat for a wealth of wildlife
3. Large fallen trees on the forest floor that decompose slowly over many decades providing homes for many of the smallest dwellers of the forest: insects, spiders, centipedes, and salamanders as well as fungi
4. A multilayered and continuous canopy with spatial variability, where younger trees and understory plants find space in the gaps between larger trees
5. Trees with large branches and deep crowns
Won’t nature heal itself if given enough time?
Such significant damage was done to the landscape by logging—and the associated roads, culverts and stream crossings—that in many cases natural processes like hydrology, erosion, and plant regrowth no longer function the way they would need in order for the system to recover on its own in the foreseeable future. If left alone, these ecosystems would likely continue to deteriorate for a long time before they could even begin to recover—putting the plant and animal species that depend upon them at great risk.
Furthermore, fierce competition for light among second-growth trees has led to stands of tall, skinny trees of similar age that are vulnerable to being easily knocked down by wind, rain, or snow or infected by pests and disease. Where that occurs, many trees can be lost at once as they are all similarly vulnerable, setting decades of forest regrowth back to the starting point. In some cases, non-redwood tree species such as Douglas-fir and even exotic tree species were planted or aerially seeded following logging operations, further altering forest composition away from a healthy redwood ecosystem. The shade from these unnaturally dense stands of young trees has dramatically reduced the amount of important understory vegetation in these areas as well.
Are you also restoring streams where salmon live?
We are improving fish habitat by removing upslope sources of erosion and sediment such as abandoned logging roads, and more directly with placement of large wood in streams, planting and expanding of riparian stream buffers, and by removing and/or upgrading stream crossings including inadequate bridges and failing culverts.
Why are you removing old logging roads and not just turning them into trails?
Creating trails in a national park is not a quick or simple process. RNSP’s trail system is determined by larger, long-term planning efforts known as Roads and Trails Plans. These are done on an entirely separate timeline from Redwoods Rising’s restoration planning. Roads and trails are also costly to maintain and any additional trails would require additional funding. So, while it might be possible to ultimately designate some of the old logging roads as trails, doing so is not a part of the Redwoods Rising restoration project process.
Are there economic benefits from this work?
Collaboration increases cost savings, improves information collection and sharing, and creates labor and materials efficiencies. Redwoods Rising is also helping protect park resources and past investments through invasive species management, and Storm Patrol, which helps prevent old logging road and culvert collapse during the rainy season.
Local economic benefits from redwood forest restoration potentially include contracted services for restoration treatments, timber processing, and also from increased visitation to the parks. There are also numerous long-term benefits from the healthy forests, fisheries, and resilient ecosystems that Redwoods Rising is helping to create.
Species Being Helped
What threatened, endangered, and species of special concern are being helped by this project?
● Fisher (Federal: Proposed - Threatened, California Species of Special Concern)
● Humboldt Marten (Federal: Species of Concern, California: Endangered)
● Townsend’s big-eared bat (California Species of Special Concern)
● White-footed vole (California Species of Special Concern)
● Sonoma tree vole (California Species of Special Concern)
● Bank swallow (Federal: None, California: Threatened)
● Marbled murrelet (Federal: Threatened, California: Endangered )
● Northern spotted owl (Federal: Threatened, California: Threatened)
● Bald eagle (California: Endangered)
● Peregrine falcon (California: Delisted & Protected)
● Little willow flycatcher (California: Endangered)
● Yellow warbler (California Species of Special Concern)
● Vaux’s swift (California Species of Special Concern)
● Purple martin (California Species of Special Concern)
● Eulachon (Federal: Threatened)
● Coho salmon (Southern Oregon Northern California Coastal ESU) (Federal: Threatened, California: Threatened)
● Chinook salmon (California Coastal ESU) (Federal: Threatened)
● Steelhead (Northern California ESU) (Federal: Threatened, California Species of Special Concern)
● Pacific lamprey (Federal Species of Special Concern)
● River lamprey (California Species of Special Concern)
● Coastal cutthroat trout (California Species of Special Concern)
● Foothill yellow-legged frog (California: Threatened)
● Northern red-legged frog (California Species of Special Concern)
● Southern torrent salamander (California Species of Special Concern)
● Pacific tailed frog (California Species of Special Concern)
● Western pond turtle (California Species of Special Concern)
● Del Norte salamander (endemic)
● The plants species to include on this list is very long. You can find specific plants on our plants page.
How Can The Public Help?
Anyone can donate directly to Redwoods Rising through the Save the Redwoods League at
Redwood National and State Parks also has ways to get involved with existing volunteer programs.
We also have habitat restoration days and over a hundred volunteers join up for these events.
What is landscape-level restoration?
Landscape-level restoration is an approach that considers a particular site in the context of all the other features of an area, the countryside, or in this case, a forest, and the interactions between connected ecosystems.
When looking at a sub-basin of a watershed that was logged, and especially if it is adjacent to a relatively undisturbed ecosystem, we must consider and prioritize current infrastructure for access, species composition and health of flora and fauna, potential fire effects, system connectivity, programmatic compliance, available resources, and desired outcomes.
Typically, restoration projects are planned, permitted, and conducted on a project-by-project or site-by-site basis. Redwoods Rising is applying a landscape approach to our restoration projects through large-scale planning and using a programmatic permitting approach that covers the work that will be conducted across larger areas.
What restoration techniques will you use?
The main restoration technique that will be used to accelerate the development of old-growth tree characteristics in these previously clear-cut areas that are now overcrowded with thin, immature trees is called restoration thinning.
Much like thinning sprouts in a garden or farm field, restoration thinning is a well-tested practice that involves removing young trees in second-growth forests to increase the growth of the remaining trees. Selectively removing some trees will allow the remaining redwoods and associated species to grow more rapidly by greatly increasing the amount of available space, nutrients, and sunlight. It also rebalances the native species composition, encourages understory plant growth, and reduces fire risk.
This work is designed specifically to enhance habitat quality and ecosystem function by Redwoods Rising natural resource professionals who will also supervise tree selection and project implementation. Following treatment, understory plants will begin to recover and the woody debris that remains will decompose, enriching the soil. Over time, these processes create stable watersheds, clean rivers, abundant fisheries and wildlife, and ample sequestered carbon.
Is this restoration approach proven to work (vs. being trial and error)?
The Redwood Rising partners have a long history and proven track record of ecosystem restoration projects. The first ever redwood forest restoration thinning project occurred in Redwood National Park in 1978, and there have been many successful experimental treatments in the decades since. However, this is the first time that all of these organizations have collaborated on a project of this size to restore these critical redwood forest lands to their former glory.
What will you do with the trees you cut?
There are several things that can be done with all of the woody material such as trunks, limbs, and fine branches generated during restoration thinning.
When there is a restoration benefit to leaving the wood to become nursery logs, replenish the soil as it decays, provide in-stream habitat, or serve other ecological functions, that is usually the preferred use. This can be done using what is called a “lop and scatter” method, which removes branches and limbs from felled trees to reduce the fire hazard, and to increase the rate of decomposition. Larger logs can also be placed in stream channels to improve habitat there.
However, restoration thinning at the scale that we are working will generate far more wood than can be used for ecological purposes. So, some of the logs will be removed and sold in local markets to help offset project costs. By regulation, the park is not allowed to make a profit from them. Any funds from these sales must be used to offset the costs of the restoration program or be given to the National Treasury.
Is any money being made from selling cut trees?
As mentioned above, it is explicitly against park policy to make a profit from selling park resources. What they can do in some cases is use funds from selling timber to offset restoration costs. While the wood will remain in some project areas through intentional placement in streams or through the lop and scatter method mentioned above, thinning at this scale will yield more logs than can be left on the forest floor without smothering understory regrowth and/or creating excessive fire fuel loads.
Wood not left in the forest will be sold to local companies, and any revenue generated by these sales will be used to help offset project costs. We expect that our costs will exceed any revenue generated so additional funding will need to be found to fully meet project expenses.
How is this different from commercial logging?
Commercial logging is done with the sole intent of creating revenue. The goal of Redwoods Rising is to restore second-growth redwood forest ecosystems, not to make a profit. Redwoods Rising is funded by partner budgets, grants, and donations.
Why sell the wood rather than spreading or burning it?
We can’t leave this amount of wood on the ground for the reasons mentioned above, and burning it is also infeasible with this volume and would release extra carbon into the atmosphere rather than storing it in wood products. Revenues from the sale of logs is also essential to help offset project costs.
Doesn’t it take hundreds of years to create trees with old-growth redwood characteristics?
Yes, it does, but the techniques being used here will (or can) set the restored areas on the trajectory towards old-growth conditions and to help accelerate that process. The characteristics of an old-growth redwood forest can emerge over time and at different stages of recovery. Some qualities can be created within decades such as a diverse understory and shelter for wildlife, while other features, like complex canopies, fire scars, and very large trees, can take much longer to achieve.
Will it help prevent catastrophic wildfires?
Yes. Research and implementation records show that through the methods of restoration that we intend to implement, the risk of occurrence for a severe wildfire will decrease.
How does Redwoods Rising combat climate change?
One of the exciting and environmentally important aspects of accelerating the growth of massive redwoods is that these trees are climate change fighters.
Research proves that coast redwood forests can store at least three times more carbon above ground than any other forests on Earth. So, as we restore the redwood forests, we increase their ability to absorb more carbon, and 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. You can learn about redwoods and carbon in a six-minute ranger video.
Furthermore, healthy redwood forests will be more resilient to the effects of climate change such as warmer temperatures, drought, and different fire patterns and frequencies.
Last updated: May 10, 2019