World’s largest Privately-Owned Giant Sequoia Forest Preserved

Save the Redwoods League purchased the property in for $15 million.

Dec 18, 2019

The giant sequoia trees that grow 250 feet (76 meters) tall grow in the primeval forests of California's Southern Sierra Nevada. These regal tall trees can live for more than 2,000 years old and they sequester carbon better than any other ecosystem in the world.

That's why the preservation of the lands where these trees grow is vitally important to the health of the planet.

When Aldar Creek, the 530-acre property located in Tulare County around  10 miles south of Sequoia National Park, became available, conservationists knew they had to purchase the property. according to Mercury New, it is home to 483 huge trees that are larger than six feet (1.8 meters) in diameter.

“This is probably the most-coveted sequoia conservation opportunity in a generation,” Sam Hodder, president of the Save the Redwoods League, a non-profit group based in San Francisco that has agreed to pay $15.6 million to purchase the property told Mercury News.

Save the Redwoods was foundered in 1918 to protect and restore the redwood forests that were being devastated due to excessive logging after the California Gold Rush. According to the organization only five percent of the original coast redwoods that used to stretch from Central California to Southern Oregon remain.

The Aldar Creek  property has been owned by the Rouche family since the 1940s. Mike Rouche, the grandson of the family's patriarch Claude Albert told Mercury News that the family purchased the land for logging. Over the years the family logged sugar pine, white fir, and other trees for building lumber but left the sequoias mostly untouched.

“Less than a dozen were ever taken,” said Rouche. “I’m 62, and there’s never been one cut down in my lifetime. They could have gotten fence posts or roof shakes out of them. But I think my dad deep down recognized how beautiful they were, and he didn’t want to take them.”

He said, “We’ve used the land, but we have tried to take the best care of it that we can.”

Today there are only 73 groves of these giants left and conservation groups have been trying to purchase the private lands, most of which, are in between preserved public land.

The Redwood League plans on transforming Aldar Creek, and another parcel called Red Hill property that they purchased in 2018, to the US Forest Service in the next ten years. That way, the parcels can be part of the Giant Sequoia National Monument (a part of Sequoia National Forest that was set aside for special protection in 2000).

The league is retaining the land for now so that public access plans can be formed, and that the area can be thinned out, so they are more fire resistant. If fires begin, they will burn far less hot and close to the ground allowing the giant trees to survive.

“Our goal is to make sure the property is fire ready,” Hodder said. “The age-old belief that no matter what you throw at giant sequoia, they are going to survive, we now know that’s not the case anymore.”

Besides, preserving the land that the sequoia trees and their cousins the coast redwoods which are the world's tallest trees, other nonprofits like the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive are working to clone the largest and strongest of ancient trees so that they can be reborn.

David Milarch, an arborist and co-founder of the nonprofit Archangel Ancient Tree Archive told Lawn Starter “We can rebuild old grove forests utilizing the genetics of the largest, oldest, strongest, proven-through-the-test-of-time giants. They will help us turn around this scourge that we face — the threat of climate change.”

With the loss of so much acreage in the Amazon rainforest, these primeval forests are even more important. Between preservation and new cultivation, the future of these giant trees are starting to look rosy red.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.