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Monitoring Wildlife for Healthy Forests

While the size and majesty of a coast redwood often dominates the landscape, like all ecosystems, there is so much more than meets the eye–a complex, delicate, and intricate web of life comprised of the reciprocity of thousands of life forms from the microorganisms in the soil, fungi and insects, to the plants, trees, and wildlife. What can monitoring wildlife on the land, water, and air tell us about recovery and recreation in the forest? Read on to learn more.

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Underground Allies Mycelium illustration by Rebecca Zwanzig, High West Wild

Underground Allies: The Importance of Fungi in Redwood Conservation

Redwood trees are world famous, and each year, their allure draws millions of visitors from around the world. What most park visitors overlook, however, is a lesser-known group of organisms whose biology is vital to survival of the trees. These organisms are fungi, and we would be wise to pay attention to them.

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Back to (Nature) School

Whether it’s camping, hiking, going to the beach, or attending camp, connecting with nature doesn’t have to end with summer. In fact, it’s incredibly helpful to our physical, mental, and social health to maintain our connection to nature and experience it often. We spoke with outdoor educators at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History about resources to help us feed our curiosity and connection with nature.

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Family circles of coast redwood trees, their bark gray from the 2020 CZU fire but covered in the bright green fuzz of new growth, stand tall against a bright blue sky in Big Basin State Park in 2022

Big Basin Returns

In July 2022, Big Basin re-opened its gates, and as we see our way past the two-year anniversary of the CZU fire, people are visiting once more. We talked to staff and interns about their experiences and spoke with our director of conservation about our work at the park and at a newly acquired nearby property that may well have a role in the park’s future.

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Camp Jones Gulch Sign By YMCA San Francisco

Camp Jones Gulch: A Partnership for Youth and Nature

Some of the oldest redwoods in the Santa Cruz mountains thrive at a YMCA camp with the oldest history of inclusion—Camp Jones Gulch. We sat down with Jamie Bruning-Miles, President and CEO for The Y of San Francisco, to talk about how, together, we are expanding youth access to nature.

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Preserve the Gateway to Big Basin

Join Sempervirens Fund to preserve the Gateway to Big Basin. Together, we have the opportunity to permanently protect 153 acres of redwood forests and preserve a scenic approach into Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Donate by January 31 and your gift will be matched dollar for dollar up to $200,000.

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San Vicente Creek: Restoring a Stronghold

Mill Creek had been blocked since early in the last century by a 12-foot-tall, 25-foot-wide dam a quarter mile upstream from its confluence with the main aquatic thoroughfare, San Vicente Creek. In September 2021, that dam was removed, giving Mill Creek another half mile of free flow. The story of removing Mill Creek’s dam is a story about the pieces that fit together to bring life and vitality to an ecosystem.

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San Vicente Creek Flow By Ian Bornarth

Mill Creek Dam and the San Vicente Watershed

An old dam has denied endangered Coho salmon their critical spawning ground and redwood forests their nutrients for over a century in the Santa Cruz Mountains. This is the story of bringing down a dam to restore the southernmost habitat for Coho and coast redwoods.

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Nature Needs Time to Heal

The CZU fire transformed Big Basin Redwoods State Park in a matter of hours. Its effects will linger for hundreds of years. The forest is expected to rebound, eventually, more or less—but when? How long until the forest looks, feels, sounds, and smells like the place we knew?

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