The environment of Redwood National and State Parks is not "pristine". It has been shaped by thousands of years of Native American use of fire, hunting and harvesting. However, it was industrial logging of last century that had disasterous impacts on the forests, rivers and wildlife of the area.
Nowadays, we are very active in restoring park habitats that range from prairies, coast-lines, waterways, hillsides, and forests. Whether it's dune restoration, removing invasive plants, thinning second-growth forests, rebuilding rivers, or removing old logging roads - these restoration efforts take time, partnerships, skills, science, and money to achieve.
The three California State Parks in our partnership (Jedediah Smith Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods and Prairie Creek Redwoods) were established in the 1920s and 1930s. The land for these state parks came from citizen groups like Save the Redwoods League and the state government that purchased sections of old-growth forests from private logging companies. These pockets of preserved forests were an oasis of protected land during the next half century of logging.
Redwood National Park is unusual in that many of the park resources were not in a healthy condition when the park was established in 1968, or expanded in 1978. The national park land was also purchased from logging companies and private land-owners. Hundreds of miles of logging roads created more than terrible scars on the landscape - they cause landslides that can, and have, destroyed old-growth redwoods. Dozens of miles of creeks and streams were also buried by logging debris and dirt - causing a collapse of natural river systems and the decimation of trout and salmon habitats.
Today, only a third (40,000 acres) of Redwood National and State Parks' land is old-growth redwoods. These sections of healthy old-growth redwood forests are now surrounded by densly choked second-growth forests. Most of these second-growth forests are Douglas-fir that were seeded by planes and helicopters after the old-growth redwoods were logged.
Redwood National and State Parks is seen as a world leader in efforts to restore of a variety of habitats and ecosystems. Since the 1990s, great leaps forward in science, forestry, state and private partnerships, and park management have occurred to make these innovative and exciting restoration programs occur.
Places like Lost Man Creek, Mill Creek and Prairie Creek are important riparian areas where old-growth redwoods had been logged. These watersheds make up tens of thousands of acres of second-growth forests which we are slowly treating. The goal is that centuries from now, these once-logged areas will be healthy old-growth forests again.
We invite you find out what is going on behind the scenes. These are your parks.
Restoration at Redwood
Old-Growth Forests compared to Second-Growth Forests
Old-growth forest with a complex understory, open spaces, and a few massive trees per acre. NPS: John Chao
Second-growth forest with no understory, little light with crowded and skinny trees. NPS: Jason Teraoka
Last updated: March 20, 2018