San Vicente Redwoods

A New Conservation Model in the Santa Cruz Mountains

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San Vicente Redwoods, near Davenport, is the largest privately-held redwood forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains. In the past two centuries, it has been an active site for mining, clear-cut logging, and railroads. Despite considerable impacts from these activities, magnificent redwood stands remained and there we can restore natural conditions to the areas in need. In 2011, Sempervirens Fund, along with an unprecedented coalition of land trust partners, purchased the 8,532-acre property, to heal and restore the forest. San Vicente Redwoods boasts old-growth redwoods and eight creeks, home to many species of wildlife and plants including the endangered marbled murrelet, endangered coho salmon, threatened California red-legged frog, and rare plants, such as the Point Reyes horkelia and Santa Cruz manzanita.

San Vicente Redwoods also links 27,000 protected acres from the ridge to the sea—providing habitat, wildlife corridors, and countless recreation opportunities. For the partners, San Vicente Redwoods is where forest stewardship and public access can thrive in harmony.

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Where Recreation Meets Restoration

The damaging human impacts over the past century have created a complex and large-scale conservation and restoration challenge. While some trees may be more than a thousand years old, clear-cut logging practices left groves of stunted trees growing too closely together and miles of old roads in need of repair. A lack of fallen trees diminishes habitat in the creeks and on the forest floor.

A visionary conservation plan addresses each area to protect old-growth redwoods, help overcrowded trees grow, enhance habitat in creeks and forest floors, improve water quality in the creeks, reduce major wildfire risks, and monitor wildlife to help inform future stewardship projects and public access. San Vicente Redwoods’ trails were carefully planned to maximize recreation and minimize impacts to wildlife.

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A world-class conservation partnership

San Vicente Redwoods is a visionary conservation project. In 2011, four local land trusts—Sempervirens Fund, Peninsula Open Space Trust, Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, and Save the Redwoods League—came together to purchase the largest unprotected property in the region, saving it forever. It was the largest land purchase in Sempervirens Fund’s history. Together, we are hard at work restoring crucial habitat and healing the forests of tomorrow. Each organization has a unique role on the property, and each contributes significant resources and expertise. This partnership has been the key to making impactful improvements.

San Vicente’s forests are managed to optimize ecological health and habitat diversity. Our ongoing projects include forest and creek restoration, invasive weed management, bolstering fire resilience, and enhancing wildlife habitat.

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Portions of the property are “restoration reserves” where strategic thinning occurs, allowing trees to better capture the resources they need to grow bigger, faster. This effort will increase viable habitat, store more carbon, and improve resiliency to fire and climate change. Removed trees can be placed in a creek to trap sediment and create critical habitat for wildlife, like endangered coho salmon. Revenue from the sale of any timber will be invested back into projects that benefit the long-term health of the San Vicente Redwoods.

Restoration forestry is good for the forest, good for land protection, and good for people. Examples of other projects include: removing invasive plants, road and culvert work to protect the watershed, and building shaded fuel breaks to reduce the spread of catastrophic wildfires and improve safety for nearby communities.

A new model for public access

With preservation of conservation values paramount, the San Vicente partners have also developed a cutting-edge public access plan, intended for welcoming the public into the property to explore and be inspired by the magnificent landscape. The plan pinpoints the optimal location of trails to minimize impacts on restoration projects and wildlife habitats. We look forward to sharing details of this plan with you.

Meanwhile, check out this Hilltromper video about the San Vicente Redwoods:

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