Drone Image of Filice Ranch. Photo by Teddy Miller.
Because of you, Sempervirens Fund can protect and conserve redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains and the plants and animals that make them home, preserving the balance of nature now and for future generations. Our tools are conservation and restoration shaped by foresight. Acre by protected acre, these tools are helping us realize a vision of large, healthy redwood forests, linked by habitat corridors that span both public and private lands.
Wildflowers in spring. Photo by Teddy Miller.
Picking Up the Pace
In the next 10 years, we aim to dramatically accelerate our pace of protection for the redwoods, preserving thousands of new acres. Many redwood properties are about to come on the market — we need to ensure they will never be developed, degraded, or destroyed. The ways we do this are powerful and permanent. We purchase property directly or work with landowners to put a conservation easement over their property, thereby ensuring the natural resource values are protected.
The lands we protect are strategically chosen for their ecological and conservation values, including the size and quality of their redwood groves, the range of native plants and animals, the quality of their waterways, and proximity to existing protected areas. Many of these lands serve as habitat corridors for pumas, bobcats, and deer, or nesting habitats for marbled murrelets.
Caring for the Land
Large pond on Filice Ranch
Organizations must adapt to change — and Sempervirens Fund is no exception. In the past, our role was quite simple: we bought land, helped restore it, and worked with California State Parks to create new parks or expand established ones. Now, it can take us a decade or more to turn lands over to State Parks. That means that we are actively caring for the properties we purchase (aka stewardship) much longer than before.
The stewardship process is complex and unique for each property. Some have been seriously scarred by unsustainable logging practices. Others require forest thinning to ensure the future prosperity of healthy trees. Most have invasive species (e.g., French broom, periwinkle, and English ivy) that must be removed for their future health.
Along the way, we’ve learned so much about caring for the redwoods, their environs, waterways, and all the plants and animals that live among them. We are proud of our stewardship activities and want to pass on our techniques to others by encouraging learning and research on our lands. We are sharing that knowledge responsibly with other similar organizations — both locally and nationally — and will continue expanding these connections.
It’s no longer a best practice to simply buy a property and let nature reclaim it. We need to actively engage in repairing, restoring, and fostering the delicate balance of life on our properties. We will be asking for your help both as a volunteer — helping tend to these forests — and through your generosity in helping us cover the costs of tending to them. Buying the property is now just the first step — and stewardship needs are very costly.
Science Will Lead the Way
The more we know about redwoods, the better we can help them. Science-based initiatives with established friends and new partners are going to build on our understanding of redwoods and how they benefit both the land and residents of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
The Stewardship Network and Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, for example, are helping us research how climate change affects our mountain ecosystems — and what we can do to ensure the health of our properties. We’re also relying on reliable science from our friends at Stanford University; University of California, Santa Cruz; and San Jose State University to guide us as we care for the lands we own and restore.
Redwoods are some of our most beneficial allies in helping against the deleterious effects of climate change, reducing tons of carbon emissions in their lifetimes. They are also naturally fire resistant, and we continue to work with Cal Fire, the Amah Mutsun Land Trust, and others to create fire breaks on our properties and to schedule controlled burns to prevent devastating wildfires.
Bullfrog in Filice Ranch Pond. Photo by Teddy Miller
Redwoods — Make it Personal
Conservationists are born outdoors. From our start, Sempervirens Fund has tried to bring people face to face with redwoods, so that they can understand why this is a world worth preserving. Most people meet their first redwood in a public park. We plan on expanding our great local redwood parks, sharing new properties with the public, and helping make the land more accessible for everyone.
Soon we will be opening the new Robert C. Kirkwood Entrance to Castle Rock State Park, which will serve as a portal to help raise awareness and access to public lands and promote visitation in the Santa Cruz Mountains. We’ll also be working with partners like the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County on the public access plan for our large, park-sized San Vicente Redwoods property, which we co-own with POST and which has a conservation easement held by Save the Redwoods League.
How We’ll Get There
Sempervirens Fund remains a lean and efficient team, which gives us greater control over our projects and more impact for your contributions on the forests you love. Our goal is to continue to improve as a sustainable organization now and for the future.
We will increase the diversity of our board by adding new board members representing local communities. Having a board that understands the high-tech world of Silicon Valley and the ecological needs of the Santa Cruz Mountains will help us reach out to new park visitors and donors to share our vision.
To accomplish our vision for a large, vibrant set of healthy redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains, we need your continued support. Look for our upcoming campaigns — delivered through the mail, on our website, and through our social media outlets. We will also be sharing with you greater details of our strategy for land conservation, and how you can get more involved.
Thank you for being part of our epic journey forward. We know that with your help, the best is yet to come.