New redwoods reserve to open to the public

Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation contributed $3 million to the $9.6 million purchase along Sonoma Coast

The new Harold Richardson Redwoods Reserve in Sonoma County contains creeks and old-growth redwoods, which provide a habitat for the northern spotted owl, marbled murrelet, foothill yellow-legged frog, Townsend's big-eared bat, Pacific giant salamander, red tree voles, steelhead trout and coho salmon. Photo by Mike Shoys/courtesy Save the Redwoods League.

Aided by a $3 million donation from the Palo Alto-based Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, conservation nonprofit Save the Redwoods League has acquired the 730-acre Harold Richardson Redwoods Reserve on the Sonoma Coast, according to an announcement released by the organization Tuesday.

The $9.6 million acquisition will ensure that the reserve's towering old-growth redwoods -- more than 300 of which are 250 feet or taller -- will be permanently protected from development, fragmentation, stream sedimentation and commercial harvesting.

The purchase also guarantees that the public will be able to hike through the reserve after the League plans and establishes trails over the next three years. It will be the first new old-growth redwood public park established in a generation, the League's press release states.

Nestled in wooded hills just a few miles inland from the Sonoma Coast and less than 100 miles north of San Francisco, the property was the largest old-growth redwood forest remaining in single private ownership, according to the announcement. The land previously belonged to Harold Richardson, a logger who refused to cut down the ancient giants and left the 730 acres to his heirs at his death in 2016.

Though likened to the famed Muir Woods National Monument, the new reserve is 30 percent larger than Muir Woods and contains 47 percent more old-growth redwoods, according to the League. The property is also home to the oldest known coast redwood south of Mendocino County and the widest coast redwood south of Humboldt County, estimated to be 1,640 years old with a trunk diameter of 19 feet, as wide as a two-lane street.

The acquisition included the transfer to the Richardson family of the 870-acre Stewarts Point property, protected coastal land that the League bought in 2010. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation's contribution included $2 million of new grant funds, as well as $1 million that the foundation gave in 2010 to acquire the Stewarts Point property in Sonoma County, according to Dan Winterson, the foundation's San Francisco Bay Area program officer.

"Acquisitions such as these are important because the outcomes are incredibly durable compared to other conservation projects," Winterson said. "Moreover, by encouraging Save the Redwoods League to acquire the land outright versus the conservation easement they had originally considered, we have helped open up a beautiful redwood forest for responsible public enjoyment."

The foundation, established by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore and his wife, Betty, in 2000, has supported the League since 2005. As a private foundation focused on environmental conservation and scientific advancements, the foundation's goal of "preserving the special character of the Bay Area" goes hand-in-hand with the League's work since its inception in 1918, according to the foundation's website.

The foundation has helped the League purchase forest lands in the Santa Cruz Mountains and create a conservation planning tool that facilitates real-time analysis of redwood forest threats in eight Bay Area counties, according to the foundation's website.

The Moore Foundation most recently awarded the league $350,000 in July 2015 for the league's Vibrant Forest Plan, which identifies which land needs to be protected in order to strengthen forests.

"We were so grateful for the role that Save the Redwoods League and our other grantees play in conserving high-priority landscapes in Sonoma County and around the Bay Area," Winterson said. "We are thrilled that the League was able to complete this transaction successfully and proud that we were able to support them in doing so."

The Redwood Reserve has retained much of its original appearance since it was part of the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians' territory thousands of years ago, the press release states.

"It's as if we've discovered an ancient civilization: an oasis of towering redwoods hidden from public view for over a century," Sam Hodder, president and CEO of Save the Redwoods League, said in the announcement. "Harold Richardson Redwoods Reserve, named to honor the legacy of the family's patriarch, will be the newest gem on California's crown of redwood parks, providing inspiration, recreation and clean air and water."

Among the factors that made the forest the League's highest conservation priority were habitation by species like the northern spotted owl, Townsend's big-eared bat and coho salmon and its proximity to other protected forests and the Wheatfield Fork of the Gualala River.


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10 people like this
Posted by Liz
a resident of another community
on Jun 28, 2018 at 4:45 am

That is wonderful, especially so people, children, and future generations can enjoy the beautiful woods.

13 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 28, 2018 at 10:26 am

I'm excited to check this place out! We enjoy camping; so, I hope that we get to experience this place soon!

Like this comment
Posted by Donald
a resident of another community
on Jun 28, 2018 at 12:38 pm

All that prime lumber being wasted. Pitiful. The land could be a beautiful beautiful golf course after most of those trees are cleared. Get on it Zinke.

26 people like this
Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 28, 2018 at 1:20 pm

Pat Burt is a registered user.

Thanks so much to the Moores and the Richardsons. So few old growth redwoods have been preserved. It is amazing that such a large tract has remained untouched in private hands and that they will now be available to the public.

7 people like this
Posted by owl gathering
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 28, 2018 at 2:04 pm

"All that prime lumber being wasted." The sarcasm font is an essential addition for this blog. Or he can at least continue the joke with an edit: All that prime lumber being wasted, when it could have been bought by a Canadian lumber conglomerate and it can be put on a boat for sale to Japan and China.

I echo the appreciation for the Moore family and others for preserving this very special place. And Cazadero is only a few minutes away from another old growth stand in the grove.

8 people like this
Posted by It’s-a-Joke
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 28, 2018 at 2:18 pm

Good joke Donald. Thank heavens you’re busy back east.

16 people like this
Posted by Nice patch!
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 28, 2018 at 2:20 pm

Can't wait to get out there.

2 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 29, 2018 at 5:18 pm

Much appreciation to the Palo Alto-based Gordon and Betty Moore
Foundation for this amazing gift to the people of California and the USA!
It is so great to read about this kind of thing, thank you.

Also mentioned back a few months on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour -

Ralph Nader Radio Hour - Good News For The Environment: Web Link

- was the donation by Mr. and Mrs. Jack Dangermond who donated $165
million dollars to the Nature Conservancy to protect thirty-eight square
miles of incredibly bio-diverse undeveloped California Coastal land. A
pristine stretch of California's coastline: the 24,000-acre Cojo/Jalama
Ranch at Point Conception in Santa Barbara County. The land includes
eight miles of coastline and centuries-old coastal oaks.

It's inspiring to see very successful people doing something for the country and
the world. These are model citizens of the 0.01%, hopefully a strong example
to others who might have the resources to make take such action!

There is the Nobel Peace Prize, but is there a Nobel Prize for philanthropy?

Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 30, 2018 at 4:24 am

[Post removed.]

5 people like this
Posted by Old Growth
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 30, 2018 at 7:27 am

There simply is nothing like an old growth redwood forest. Not just the few trees left about in Big Basin, but a true, thriving old growth forest. In the rain it's even better. Those that have experienced it, know, and those that have not now have a place closer than Humboldt to see for themselves.
It's simply Tree-mendous!

3 people like this
Posted by Ken Henry
a resident of Woodside
on Jul 1, 2018 at 6:38 am

Looks like a Trip to be Planned!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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