The California Wildlife Conservation Board unanimously approved $10 million to complete the protection of San Vicente (CEMEX) Redwoods on August 28, 2014.
The State’s funding provides the crucial last piece to permanently protect the largest redwood forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains (aside from established parks), which stretches 6 miles long and 2 1/2 miles wide, encompassing 8,500 acres.
The protection of San Vicente Redwoods, in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains, connects more than 27,500 acres of protected land. It is critical to the survival of the redwood forest that thrived here for at least 20 million years. The area provides habitat for rare animals and plants including the California red-legged frog, peregrine falcon and coho salmon, and two animal species found nowhere else in the world -- the Mount Hermon June beetle and the Zayante band-winged grasshopper. The redwood-shaded streams provide clean drinking water for local residents.
At the same time, the location of San Vicente Redwoods -- a short distance from fast-growing Silicon Valley – made this forest extremely vulnerable to being cut up, paved, built on and lost forever. Now, thanks to Sempervirens Fund, the State of California and all of our partners, this forest is protected for wildlife, recreation and future generations...forever.
Protecting San Vicente Redwoods marks a huge step toward creating the Great Park, which ultimately will encompass 195 square miles of redwood forest and watersheds between Silicon Valley and the Pacific Ocean (125,000 acres). That’s four San Franciscos or seven Big Basins.
STATE FUNDS COMPLETE PHASE ONE FOR SAN VICENTE REDWOODS
The $10 million approved by the California Wildlife Conservation Board enables Save the Redwoods League to purchase a conservation easement from Sempervirens Fund and Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST). This easement prohibits subdivision of the land and extinguishes all development rights. The League will continue to hold and monitor that easement, in perpetuity. Sempervirens Fund will repay a short-term loan that we incurred to acquire the property in 2011.
The State’s funding and the conservation easement complete the first phase of a collaborative process that Sempervirens Fund started with POST, Save the Redwoods League and the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County three years ago when we purchased the property for $30 million, with support from David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and Resources Legacy Fund. Working together under the umbrella of the Living Landscape Initiative, we were able to buy this unique 8,500-acre redwood forest from CEMEX under an extremely short deadline in December 2011.
In the $30 million transaction, the land trusts together contributed $10 million, the foundations contributed $8 million, and the California Coastal Conservancy contributed $2 million – for a total of $20 million. Now, the California Wildlife Conservation Board has taken the crucial step of authorizing the public portion of the project -- $10 million – to permanently protect San Vicente Redwoods.
This innovative three-way collaboration between the land trusts, the foundations and the state represents a valuable model for protecting, restoring and opening up precious lands for wildlife, local residents and visitors from around the world. It unites the best of the best: local nonprofit leadership, guidance from local residents, funding from visionary foundations and modest support from California taxpayers who can enjoy this magnificent land for countless generations forward.
NEXT STEPS: RESTORE THE FOREST AND CREATE PUBLIC TRAILS
In the last two years, Sempervirens Fund and our partners have made enormous progress transitioning San Vicente Redwoods from its history of repeated logging to long-term recovery and public recreation.
Sempervirens Fund and POST continue to manage and restore the San Vicente Redwoods forest, based on the conservation plan developed by an independent team of natural resource and forest experts. This plan fully protects all the old-growth redwoods and permanently reserves the majority of the property for restoration, wildlife habitat, recreation and long-term recovery.
The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County is developing the public access plan, with numerous opportunities for local residents to contribute their suggestions.
Sempervirens Fund and our partners are working together to improve the ecological health and recreation value of San Vicente Redwoods over the long term, serving countless generations to come.