Redwoods Rising FAQs


General Questions

What is Redwoods Rising?
Redwoods Rising is a collaborative initiative between Save the Redwoods League, the National Park Service and California State Parks. Together, we will be implementing a massive restoration program to improve redwood forest health and condition across 120,000 acres of public lands in Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP).

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 does Redwoods Rising do?
Through our collaborative work, Redwoods Rising will encourage the growth and development of healthier, vibrant redwood forests reminiscent of the old-growth that once blanketed this region. The aim of Redwoods Rising is to re-connect existing old-growth redwood stands with once-forested lands that were heavily impacted over the past 150 years.

Together we will:
  • utilize scientifically-verified methods of ecological tree thinning to increase available nutrients and sunlight for remaining redwoods and associated species;
  • remove old, eroding logging roads that currently add sediment and debris into nearby waterways;
  • remove invasive species that outcompete natives for resources; and
  • restore the health of the watersheds, by restoring waterways and habitat for fish and wildlife.
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 are Redwoods Rising and a formal restoration collaborative necessary?
The complexity and costs of restoration have increased, making the need for coordinated and efficient project planning, execution, and funding more critical than ever. Scaling up and accelerating the pace of restoration activities across state and federal boundaries is also necessary if these fragmented ecosystems are to be resilient to the harmful impacts of drought, fire, disease, invasive species and climate change.

What is Redwoods Rising currently working on?
Redwoods Rising is first focusing its efforts on restoration projects in two key areas of Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP): the Mill Creek watershed and the Prairie Creek watershed. Projects include the Prairie Creek Restoration Project, Mill Creek Restoration Project and Vegetation Management, and Orick Mill Site Restoration.

120,000 acres? Where will you start?
10,000 acres of redwood ecosystems have been identified for the first wave of restoration efforts within Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, and Mill Creek within Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park.

What does Redwoods Rising hope to accomplish in the future?
Starting by 2020, and the the following five years, Redwoods Rising plans to restore 10,000 acres of forest, remove eight miles of abandoned roads, and to continue to build capacity for greater collaboration and enhanced restoration of redwood ecosystems. The long-term goal is to bring back forests of giant coast redwoods in 120,000 acres of public lands in Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP).

How is Redwoods Rising funded?
The three collaborating organizations are providing funds and staff time for surveys, planning, compliance, project management, communication and outreach, and implementation. Save the Redwoods League is also committed to leveraging additional public and private support to help increase agency capacity and accelerate the pace of restoration efforts.

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 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.


Questions on Restoration

Why restore the forest?
Redwood National and State Parks is home to 45 percent of the world’s remaining old-growth redwoods, including the tallest trees. However, surrounding these remaining primeval redwood stands are large swaths of younger forest that were once heavily harvested. These second-growth forests are unnaturally dense, creating thin trees that do not provide the ecological values or the inspiration of a mature redwood forest. Eroding logging roads thread through the landscape, accelerating the spread of invasive species and sending sediment into nearby streams, threatening endangered coho salmon and steelhead trout. The goal of Redwoods Rising is to undo this damage to fast-track the development of healthy redwood forests.

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 were installed, that in many cases natural processes like hydrology, erosion and plant regrowth no longer function the way they would need in order to recover on their own. 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. Where that occurs, all of the 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, high-value tree species and even exotic tree species were planted or aerial seeded following logging operations further altering forest composition.

What are you restoring?
Previously logged second-growth forests are the primary focus; however, Redwoods Rising is also restoring neighboring oak woodlands, prairies, wetlands, streams and other associated ecosystems that collectively make a healthy landscape and biosphere.

What are you restoring to?
Through ecological restoration, Redwoods Rising aims to create, enhance and accelerate the development of old forest characteristics, and their associated ecosystems, across previously degraded landscapes. Old-growth redwood forests maintain the important functions of healthy ecosystems and are vastly underrepresented (less than 5% remains of the historical range!). The giant redwood trees of an old-growth forest have intricate canopies that create habitat, store large amounts of carbon and maintain high biodiversity.

What are the characteristics of old-growth redwoods and why are they important?
Old-growth redwood forests exhibit the following primary characteristics:
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 mushrooms and other fungi.
4. A multilayered and continuous canopy with large branches and deep crowns. Younger trees find space between the gaps of larger trees.

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.

What is landscape-level restoration?
Landscape-level restoration is an approach to improve the health and condition of a site that considers its placement across all visible features of an area, 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 outcome.

Is this restoration proven to work (vs trial and error)?
Save the Redwoods League, the National Park Service and California State Parks have a long history and proven track record of 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 that followed. This is the first time that all three organizations will collaborate on and lead a project of this size together to restore these critical redwood forest lands to their former glory.

What threatened, endangered, and species of special concern are being helped by this project?
  • Fisher (Federal: Proposed - Threatened, California: Candidate - Threatened)
  • Townsends’ big-eared bat (Federal: None, California: Candidate - Threatened)
  • Humboldt Marten (Federal: Proposed - Threatened, California Species of Special Concern)
  • Bank swallow (Federal: None, California: Threatened)
  • Behren’s silverspot butterfly (Federal: Endangered, California: None)
  • Tidewater goby (Federal: Endangered, California: None)
  • Longfin smelt (Federal: Candidate, California: Threatened)
  • Eulachon (Federal: Threatened, California: None)
  • Western lily (Federal: Endangered, California: Endangered)
  • Mcdonald’s rockcress (Federal: Endangered, California: Endangered)
  • Foothill yellow-legged frog (California Species of Special Concern)
  • Northern red-legged frog (California Species of Special Concern)
  • Southern torrent salamander (California Species of Special Concern)
  • Del Norte salamander (endemic, not threatened)

What tools are being employed?
The main restoration technique that will be used to accelerate the development of old-growth tree characteristics in these previously clear-cut areas is called ecological tree thinning. This selective cutting will “release” the redwoods and associated species, allowing them to grow more rapidly by greatly increasing nutrients and sunlight for the trees that remain. 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.

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.

Is any money being made from selling cut trees?
It is explicitly against park policy to make money off of selling park resources. What we can do in some cases is stewardship contracts where we exchange the thinned trees for additional acres of forest restoration; however, that is the lowest priority for the use of the trees. The first preferred use is to leave the large trees on the land where they can become nursery logs, replenish the soil as they decay, provide in-stream habitat or serve other ecological functions. If that isn’t necessary or appropriate at a particular site, then trees many also be salvaged by park staff and used for fence railings, roof shingles or other purposes within the park.


Last updated: April 4, 2018

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