Paul Archambeault: A Redwood Hero 30 Years in the Making
Paul Archambeault’s connection with the redwood forests took root while growing up in the Bay Area in the 1950s and ‘60s. Paul Archambeault’s connection with the redwood forests took root while growing up in the Bay Area in the 1950s and ‘60s. Born in San Francisco and raised in the East Bay, he’s a third-generation Californian with relatives dating back to the Gold Rush. Growing up, Paul would take the train with his family down to visit his grandparents and relatives in the San Jose area. They would then all drive up into the Santa Cruz Mountains together, to his grandparent’s cottage in Felton. This became Paul’s home base for exploring the forests. “I feel like I’m in a giant cathedral when I’m in the redwoods,” said Paul. “You can’t even see the tops of the trees. Sometimes we can feel that we are in control of the world, but the ancient redwoods put life in a perspective. It’s calming, humbling, and awe inspiring.” The Santa Clara Valley was known as the Valley of Heart’s Delight during Paul’s youth because it was full of beautiful orchards. In 1960, when Paul graduated from Stanford, he remembers still seeing the wondrous “Santa Clara snow,” the white blossoms of the fruit trees in spring. But by the time he and his wife moved to Sunnyvale in 1975 Heart’s Delight had turned into Silicon Valley with most of the orchards paved over for buildings and roads.
“Seeing the transformation of the Valley with all the orchards torn down was quite a shock. It spurred my interest in protecting the surrounding natural lands before it was too late,” Paul recalled. “In the ‘80s, the hiking group that my wife and I were in dedicated a redwood tree as a memorial to one of our long time hikers. This is how we were introduced to Sempervirens Fund. We were impressed with the organization’s history and role in creating Big Basin State Park. And their track record in continuing to achieve redwood protections impressed us. We have been regular donors ever since.” A few years ago, when out on a guided Sempervirens donor hike in the redwoods, Paul asked if there were other ways he could help the organization beyond financial contributions. He was retiring and looking for ways to get involved. Of course, we welcomed his participation! Paul has become a dedicated volunteer taking on many tasks. He has catalogued historic photos at the office, helped lead donor hikes, volunteered at community events, and planted trees as part of the restoration of the new entrance to Castle Rock State Park.
“It doesn’t have to be grandiose. It just feels good to be able to give back locally,” said Paul. “I love the fact that through Sempervirens Fund I am helping to allow the redwoods to flourish, for nature’s sake and for the benefit of future generations.” We are thankful to Paul for his decades of giving and his volunteer support. Please consider joining Paul in Semperviren’s community of redwood heroes by making a donation to protect the redwoods, leaving a lasting legacy. You can also learn about volunteer opportunities here.