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NEWS: Camp Jones Gulch Protected

Sempervirens Fund and The Y of San Francisco Finalize Purchase of Conservation Easement to Permanently Protect Camp Jones Gulch and Redwood Forests in Santa Cruz Mountains

Nearly $10 million deal between Sempervirens Fund and The Y of San Francisco is complete and protects some of the region’s oldest redwood forests while bolstering outdoor education opportunities for future generations of students

Contact: Matt Shaffer, 415.609.2750, [email protected]

Old-Growth Redwoods, including trees more than 500 years old, tower over 39-acres and may provide habitat for the endangered marbled murrelet which is known to fly from the sea to the area’s forests to lay their eggs in uppermost branches.

Old-Growth Redwoods, including trees more than 500 years old, tower over 39-acres and may provide habitat for the endangered marbled murrelet which is known to fly from the sea to the area’s forests to lay their eggs in uppermost branches. Photo by Canopy Dyanmics.

La Honda, Calif. (Dec. 15, 2022) — With the transfer of $9.625 million, Sempervirens Fund and The Y of San Francisco have finalized the deal to preserve the 920-acre property that Camp Jones Gulch has occupied for more than 80 years in La Honda, CA. Sempervirens Fund’s purchase of a conservation easement begins a permanent partnership between the two organizations that enables the state’s oldest land trust to ensure the now protected land is cared for, including the largest unprotected stand of old-growth redwoods in the Santa Cruz mountains.

“This is a remarkable moment for some of the oldest redwoods in the Santa Cruz mountains, for the youth that will learn from them, and for conservation across the region,” said Sara Barth, Executive Director of Sempervirens Fund. “We’re thrilled to make this new partnership official, especially at a time when the uncertainty of climate change is putting our forests at increasing risk.”

The property includes 39 acres of rare old growth redwood forest, 668 acres of young growth redwood, Douglas fir, and hardwood forests, mature oak woodlands, and other riparian woodlands. In addition to the purchase of the conservation easement–which forever protects natural resources associated with the property while keeping it in The Y of San Francisco’s ownership–Sempervirens Fund has created a $422,000 stewardship fund to support ecological restoration work on the property and implement stewardship programs to improve the health and resilience of the forest habitats. Sempervirens Fund is in the process of creating a stewardship plan for the property, which could include conservation measures such as fuel reduction, pond restoration, and vegetation management. They are also planning for marbled murrelet surveys, corvid surveys, and invasive species removal.

Since 1968, it has been a rite of passage for fifth and sixth grade students in San Mateo County, to experience a week at Camp Jones Gulch, giving them an opportunity to explore nature among the region’s ancient redwoods. The partnership, which has been in the works for a decade, is already reaping benefits at Camp Jones Gulch. Camp staff have begun construction of new facilities, replacing decades-old cabins and upgrading other infrastructure and buildings. These and future facilities will also be built in accordance with the guidance of the conservation easement.

"We are overjoyed to make this partnership with Sempervirens Fund official. A pillar of our mission is to connect young people with nature, and this deal ensures our ability to continue enriching their lives for generations to come,” said Jamie Bruning-Miles, President and CEO of the YMCA of San Francisco. “This long-term relationship means we can sustain our work at Camp Jones Gulch, be great stewards of our lands and help connect children to nature in new and exciting ways. Our commitment to nature has been ongoing for more than 80 years, and provides the resources needed to inspire young people for another 80 years.”

The partnership is an emerging model between conservation groups and community organizations to preserve land from development and address the ongoing climate crisis. The deal, secured with a blend of public and private funding including several state bonds, aligns with President Biden’s goal, and Governor Newsom’s 30x30 Initiative, to conserve 30% of lands and waterways by 2030 through collaborations that center on conservation, resiliency, and inclusion, especially at the community level.

The YMCA of San Francisco’s outdoor engagement programs are committed to creating accessibility in nature for the communities they serve. As a part of their 2030 Vision, their programs will provide more equity and access, especially to youth, to the opportunities that inspire healthy connections to nature and community. They will continue to offer nature engagement programs for those who wish to learn about natural habitats and ecosystems, to build social and emotional skills, to learn outdoor leadership skills, and more. They are dedicated to ensuring their programs and their benefits are accessible for all.

“This collaboration between Sempervirens Fund and The Y can be a model for others as we change the way we think about conservation,” said Barth. “Using this unique blend of public and private funding, including state dollars, various private funders, and our friends at Peninsula Open Space Trust, we have the ability to forever protect some of the region’s most precious trees.”

Funding for the $10 million project includes funds from Sempervirens Fund donors. In addition, Sempervirens Fund donors also funded costs associated with the easement monitoring for the next 20 years.

Purchase of the conservation easement was also funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation ($2.4 million), Peninsula Open Space Trust ($2 million), the State of California Wildlife Conservation Board ($2 million) through the Habitat Conservation Fund, Fish and Game Code Section 2786(a); the California Department of Fish and Wildlife ($1 million) through the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Proposition 1); and the California State Coastal Conservancy ($950,000), through the California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access For All Act of 2018 (Proposition 68).

“Funding for this conservation project represents the exact kind of investments across public and private sectors that make a difference,” added Barth. “Every donor dollar went three times further with public funds. Bringing together multiple sources of bond funding makes each voter-approved measure more valuable.”

“This is a rare and important conservation opportunity to protect not only old-growth redwood forest, but also headwater streams, and coastal prairie grassland.” said Dan Winterson, who manages the Bay Area Conservation Program at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. “We are very pleased that we were able to support Sempervirens Fund’s persistent efforts to bring this project to fruition.”

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