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Caring for our lands

Preserving and restoring the redwood forests in our care

Permanently protecting redwood forests ensures that the properties where they thrive are set aside to keep forests intact and preserved for generations to come. As we steward these protected lands, we work across the landscape, and in collaboration with neighbors and regional partners, to safeguard the health of trees, habitats, waterways, and wildlife.

Unlike many land trusts, we seek to add these lands to existing systems of public conservation lands. Most of the 35,000 acres of redwoods forests we have protected have been added to California State Parks such as Big Basin, Butano, and Castle Rock. We have also helped expand regional parks and secured conservation easements on lands to keep them privately-owned and their forests permanently protected.

We own--directly or through conservation easement--more than 11,000 acres of land. Read on to learn more about how your support makes it possible for these critical redwood forests to be well cared for.

Preservation and Restoration

For each property in our care, we generate a stewardship plan which gives us, our partners, and our neighbors clarity and guidance about the resources we are preserving and the natural features we are restoring.

Each landscape is different and our conservation and restoration activities vary from property to property. And the benefits are as plentiful as the redwoods themselves.

Healthy Forest Habitats

Much of our stewardship work involves creating and supporting the best possible natural conditions for forests to thrive. Without our direct intervention, forests are vulnerable to risks, including pests and fire, that diminish their abundance, resilience, and longevity, and can degrade the larger ecosystems. Some of the activities we promote include:

  • Removing human-made debris (such as abandoned cars or dilapidated structures)
  • Removing invasive plants
  • Restoring streams to improve fish passage and habitat
  • Reforesting by planting redwoods and other native seedlings
  • Controlling erosion on roads and building infrastructure, such as culverts

Thriving Wildlife

Forest ecosystems in the Santa Cruz Mountains are teeming with a rich diversity of wildlife. Stewardship of redwood forests must also support a healthy balance of animal species and ensure that threatened and endangered species have ideal conditions to persevere and thrive.

Working with our Science Advisory Panel, regional partnerships, like the Santa Cruz Stewardship Network, and researchers, we are constantly monitoring wildlife to adapt our planning to improve conservation conditions.

We host research projects throughout the region that are giving us a deeper understanding of the behaviors, migration patterns, and needs of critical wildlife species, including pumas, marbled murrelets, coho salmon, red-legged frogs, bats, and more.

Expansive Public Access to Nature

We believe everyone deserves safe, welcoming, and inclusive access to nature, and much of the lands we protect are added to expand public parks. Some of the land we protect is privately owned and publicly-accessible under the terms of conservation easements or as camp facilities.

We are also partnering with a pioneering collaborative of conservation organizations to create access to San Vicente Redwoods.

On all these properties we are building trails and roads, decommissioning other unnecessary roads, and enhancing public parks with interpretive signs, displays, and other educational facilities.

You can learn more about our efforts to improve access to redwoods and nature here.

Reduced Risks

Across the Santa Cruz Mountains our habitats face many risks, including the uncertain and often extreme risks of climate change. A changing climate can be slow, with unwanted conditions increasing over time. And it can be very immediate and intense through weather events such as severe heat, lighting, and drought, which can generate wildfire.

We balance these risks in our stewardship planning and in collaboration with neighbors, partners, and regional networks.

Managing these risks means pursuing a range of activities to prepare the land for specific threats, especially wildfire. Wildfire mitigation efforts center on the use of fire as a tool to clear out fuel that would turn a spark into a raging conflagration. Called, prescribed burns, fire is a critical tool for wildfire risk management.

Our systems of roads and trails can also double as fuel breaks, often sited with intent to help stop or pause fires from advancing and to provide access for firefighting teams as necessary.

And infrastructure improvements, such as water tanks, not only support restoration activities, but provide resources for fighting wildfires.

You can learn more about how we steward redwoods forests here.

Support Stewardship of Redwood Forests

Now more than ever we depend on funding from our donors to help us care for redwood forests, to monitor their health, conserve wildlife, and improve waterways, keeping them healthy, thriving and resilient, for generations to come.

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