Conservation group to buy largest private sequoia forest in the world

stagg tree
© The Stagg Tree, the fifth largest known tree in the world. (Photo: Max Forster / Save the Redwoods League)

The 530-acre forest has hundreds of ancient giant sequoia, including the fifth-largest tree known on the planet.

I have long mused that if I ever won the lottery, I would buy up as much forest as I could. Since my chance of winning the lottery is about one in a gazillion, I am deeply thrilled to see a new wave of creative ways in which concerned people are banding together to finance the planting of trees and purchase land for conservation.

A recent occurrence of this phenomenon involves California's 530-acre Alder Creek forest. It is home to hundreds of ancient giant sequoia, nearly 500 of which boast a diameter of six feet or larger. It is also the home of the Stagg Tree, the largest tree in private possession and the fifth-largest tree known in the world – not surprising since giant sequoia are the most massive trees on the planet. They are also among the oldest, ringing in at thousands of years old.

Called the "Crown Jewel" of the remaining giant sequoia forests, Alder Creek has been privately owned, but now, the very very good people of Save the Redwoods League have announced an opportunity to purchase the land. In a deal that has been in the works for two decades, acquisition of this vital forest would come at the cost of $15.65 million, which must be raised by December 31, 2019.

Which is where we, the public, come in.

"Alder Creek is the most consequential giant sequoia conservation project of our lifetime. It's the largest remaining giant sequoia property in private ownership, and a globally unique and extraordinarily beautiful landscape," said Sam Hodder, president and CEO of Save the Redwoods League. "To fully protect this remarkable grove forever, we will need the public's help in raising the required funds by December 31, 2019. I am pleased to announce that we have a challenge grant in place to help us achieve that goal."

Hodder added, "Giant sequoia – the world's most massive trees – inspired the national conservation movement more than 150 years ago beginning with the protection of Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park. Today, Save the Redwoods League has the opportunity to continue this conservation legacy by permanently protecting Alder Creek and its hundreds of giant sequoia trees."

With just 73 sequoia groves left on the planet, and all occupying a relatively small range of 48,000 acres in California, their small native range makes their protection even more pressing. And of course, the property is rife with other plant and animal species.

alder creek© Alder Creek by Roy E. Williams II / Save the Redwoods League

If the League can secure the funds, they plan to both restore the forest and also make public access more available.

"In the near- to midterm, the restoration and stewardship goal will be to bring back a balance of native forest species that have been altered by historical logging, and reduce fuel loads to assure fire resilience and long-term protection," Hodder said. "Other than these relatively minor interventions, the forest is in really great shape. Our focus will be on protecting the magnificent forest that already exists at Alder Creek and exploring opportunities for public access."

The plan would be for the League to hold on to the property for five to 10 years, and once they have restored the forest, they would transfer it to the U.S. Forest Service for inclusion in Giant Sequoia National Monument, "ensuring its future management in accordance with the monument's long-term restoration, resource protection, and public access program."

"This is perhaps the most significant sequoia conservation opportunity in the last 65 years," said Becky Bremser, the director of land protection for Save the Redwoods League. "By protecting this property, we will safeguard the biological richness and ecological resilience of a forest unlike any other on Earth – with giant sequoia trees that are thousands of years old, and nearly 500 with diameters six feet or larger. We also will create the opportunity for this extraordinary mountain forest to inspire the public in a truly special way."

So now a single one of us doesn't need to win the lottery, we can all just pitch in and save the trees together. to make a donation, visit SaveTheRedwoods.org/SaveAlder.

And you can see what is at stake in the video below. Such incredible beauty, it boggles the mind.

Conservation group to buy largest private sequoia forest in the world
The 530-acre forest has hundreds of ancient giant sequoia, including the fifth-largest tree known on the planet.

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