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Butano State Park

A Serene Forest Off Highway 1

Off Highway 1, halfway between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay, Butano State Park spans more than 4,000-acres in a secluded redwood-filled canyon. The park typically has fewer visitors than neighboring parks such as Big Basin State Park or Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, giving Butano a serene, secluded feeling. The park’s miles of popular hiking trails lead through dense redwood forest and up to high ridges offering hikers stunning views of the Pacific coast. Sempervirens Fund began advocating for the protection of the land in 1921 and the forest was logged until the Park’s creation in 1957. Now lush with second- and third-growth redwoods, Sempervirens Fund has protected more than 1,500 acres in the Butano State Park planning area. One of the park’s most distinctive features is the famous Candelabra Tree, a large redwood with branches resembling a candelabra, is on land recently added to the park.

In August and September 2020, the CZU Lightening Fire Complex burned more than 86,000 acres in the Santa Cruz Mountains. This is one of the many parks that has been affected. Butano State Park is currently closed due to damage caused by the CZU Lightning Complex Fires until further notice. Sempervirens Fund is working with California State Parks to help support the immediate and long-term needs of the Park. You can read more about redwoods recovery and restoration here and throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Growing from History

Butano was part of Quiroste tribal territory for thousands of years. Before European contact, the Quiroste were intimately connected to the land. They actively managed the landscape, using controlled burns to promote the growth of plants eaten by deer, pronghorn, and Tule elk. These animals were food, in turn, for the Quiroste. Hazelnuts and acorns were also important to the Quiroste diet.

Spanish explorers reached California in 1769. Eventually, European disease decimated indigenous peoples, and the surviving Quiroste were forced to give up the land and join the Spanish mission system. By 1834, the land was privately owned, and less than three decades later, settlers were logging the Butano canyon.

Logging didn’t stop until the mid-1950s, when California State Parks acquired the land. Sempervirens Club (today Sempervirens Fund), Save the Redwoods League, and the Sierra Club spent over two decades advocating for the land’s protection.

Since it was established, Butano State Park has doubled in size. Sempervirens Fund works with Amah Mutsun Land Trust to reintroduce land management techniques like controlled burns to lands it has preserved.

Prescribed Burn Amah Mutsun Fire Ceremony
Sempervirens 236

Gazos Creek

One of the lands Sempervirens Fund recently preserved near Butano State Park is Gazos Creek Redwoods. Named for the crucial creek that crosses the 320-acre property, Gazos Creek guides two endangered species, steelhead trout and marbled murrelets, from the sea to the forest where they lay their eggs. Thanks to Sempervirens Fund supporters, critical resources like Gazos Creek are being protected to continue to support the health and growth of Butano State Park.

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