photo by Laura Hamilton.
Giants in History
Portola Redwoods State Park’s mixture of old and second-growth redwood forests include a genuinely impressive grove of old-growth redwoods along Peters Creek Loop and a 1,200-year old goliath known as The Old Tree near park headquarters. Its forests and creeks are home to many plants and animals including noteworthy creatures such as the endangered marbled murrelet, endangered coho salmon, and threatened steelhead trout. The park is named after the Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portolá, who led an expedition along the San Mateo coast and to the San Francisco Bay in 1768, although the expedition never actually reached Portola Redwoods.
Thousands of years ago, long before the Portola Redwoods became a state park, the Quiroste (pronounced Ki-raw’-stee) people lived off this land. In the 1860s, European settlers began occupying the land, a century after Spanish missionaries arrived on the California coast. Ownership passed through several hands until the state bought the property and Sempervirens Fund helped create Portola Redwoods State Park in 1945.
Today, Sempervirens Fund continues to protect and connect land near Portola Redwoods State Park to expand habitat for wildlife to thrive and recreational opportunities for people to enjoy for generations to come. Here is one of the most recent lands that Sempervirens Fund supporters have preserved in the Portola Redwoods State Park area.
Protecting & Growing the Park
Sempervirens Fund and Save the Redwoods League, partners in the Living Landscape Initiative to protect wild lands, preserved 33 acres of redwood forest in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains in 2014. Next to Portola Redwoods State Park’s stunning old-growth forests and the scenic Peters Creek loop trail, the property’s location and substantial redwood trees made it a high priority to preserve and a great potential addition to the Park.
The property provides excellent habitat for a variety of wildlife, including endangered marbled murrelets which nest high in the redwoods, and helps protect Pescadero Creek for threatened coho salmon and steelhead trout. Protecting land around the Park improves opportunities for wildlife migration, which is especially important as the climate changes.
Although the property had the potential to be developed into luxury estate homes, the owner of the property, Patricia Van Kempen, chose to sell it to Sempervirens Fund to protect the land forever. A plaque on the property ensures her father’s memory is also protected with the land forever. Until the property can be added to Portola Redwoods State Park for everyone to enjoy, its preserved redwoods and wildlife habitat also improve access for land management on neighboring preserved wildlands.