Jerry Garcia and the Lompico Redwoods
Long before its preservation, Sempervirens Fund heard rumors that the Grateful Dead had “jammed” somewhere on the Lompico Headwaters property back in the day. Although there is no evidence the Grateful Dead ever played Lompico, the truth of the rumor is far stranger.
Garcia’s family owned a house in Lompico. While vacationing in the redwoods in 1951, Garcia’s older brother Clifford accidentally lopped his 4-year-old brother’s right-middle finger off at the knuckle while chopping wood. Even more macabre is the fact that the finger of the boy who would grow up to find international fame as a psychedelic icon and Hall of Fame guitarist…was never found. Time in the Lompico redwoods quite literally shaped Jerry Garcia.
Since then, 60% of the Lompico Headwaters’ 425-acre forest was slated to be cut down until Sempervirens Fund preserved the land and made it the site of another legendary occurrence—the Lompico Forest Carbon Project.
Pioneering Carbon Credits for Conservation
Like its name suggests, the Lompico Headwaters property boasts the critical headwaters of Lompico Creek which hosts endangered Southern Steelhead and is a source of drinking water for 1,500 local residents. Across it’s 425-acres mixed redwood and Douglas-fir forests rise to rare maritime chaparral along the ridge tops with excellent views of the San Lorenzo Valley and neighboring Loch Lomond Reservoir in the protected Loch Lomond Recreation Area. Lompico headwater’s forest and creek are home to many animals including California red-legged frog, Western pond turtle, Townsend’s western big-eared bat, mountain lions, grey squirrels, coyotes, and bobcats. Species of special concern have been seen soaring above the forest like the Cooper’s hawk, sharp-shinned hawk, red-tailed hawk, red-shouldered hawk, screech owl, great horned owl, northern pygmy owl, and northern saw-whet owl. Rare plant species such as Bonny Doon manzanita, Santa Cruz wallflower, Ben Lomond spineflower, and slender silver moss have also been documented near Lompico Headwaters. But 60% of the privately-owned biodiverse forest’s redwood and Douglas fir trees were going to be cut down.
In June 2006, Sempervirens Fund stepped in and bought the Lompico Headwaters from Redwood Empire which had planned to cut down 60% of the forest’s redwoods and Douglas-fir. The forest and its inhabitants were protected and connected to a 2,000-acre habitat including the nearby Loch Lomond Recreation Area. That same year, Sempervirens Fund launched the Lompico Forest Carbon Project to produce a new source of revenue for future land preservation through the sale of forest carbon offsets – or carbon credits.
By not only saving Lompico Headwaters’ trees destined for logging but also allowing the trees to grow larger and sequester more carbon, Sempervirens Fund helps reduce and remove more carbon from the air each year.
When Sempervirens Fund succeeded in verifying its first batch of carbon offsets and selling those credits to Pacific Gas and Electric’s ClimateSmart program, it created the world’s first official forest carbon offsets from a forest preservation project.
Sempervirens Fund continues to reforest restore and care for Lompico Headwaters, restore creek habitat, remove invasive species, and improve wildfire preparedness with the help of partners and volunteers to help the trees grow for carbon sequestration, wildlife, and future generations.
THE CO-OP MODEL
The experience of creating and maintaining the Lompico Forest Carbon Project, provided Sempervirens Fund with a wealth of key insights it has carried over to the Santa Cruz Mountains Carbon Cooperative which is currently in the planning phase.