On Monday, Save the Redwoods League, the National Park Service and California State Parks announced a new commitment to heal previously-harvested redwood forests through a collaboration known as Redwoods Rising. One of the goals in the coming decades is to bring back stands of towering coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens
) on 40,000 acres of public lands in Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP). Redwoods Rising creates an unprecedented level of collaboration between these three organizations to restore the redwood forests and ensure the parks' entire 120,000 acres exist as a connected forest ecosystem and a thriving landscape that supports and protects the natural and cultural treasures found there.
"If our greatest responsibility is to leave the world better than we found it, then healing the redwood forest represents an opportunity of a lifetime. We can actually restore and grow the old-growth forests of the future," said Sam Hodder, president and CEO of Save the Redwoods League. "We have the tools and the will, and thanks to our generous donors and our national and state park partners, we are taking a major step forward toward leaving California better than we found it."
Located 325 miles north of San Francisco, Redwood National and State Parks are a UNESCO World Heritage site comprised of Redwood National Park, and Prairie Creek Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods, and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Parks. The parks are home to 45 percent of the world's remaining protected old-growth redwoods and half of the world's tallest trees. However, surrounding the primeval redwood stands are large swaths of younger forest that were once heavily harvested. Old logging roads spread invasive species and erode sediment into nearby streams, threatening coho salmon and steelhead trout.
"We are thrilled to collaborate with Save the Redwoods League and California State Parks," said Steve Mietz, superintendent of Redwood National Park. "Redwoods Rising aligns the public and private sectors to take the next big steps towards restoring these cherished public landscapes. It is a great investment in our future."
By 2022, the Redwoods Rising collaborative will conduct restoration forestry activities across 10,000 acres of the forested watersheds of Mill Creek and Prairie Creek within RNSP. These forests were clearcut prior to the parks' establishment, and actively restoring them will reconnect precious remaining old-growth areas, improving habitat quality and resiliency.
"Now more than ever, we recognize that to protect our treasured redwoods, we must invest in the entire landscape," said Lisa Mangat, director of California State Parks. "Our iconic redwoods provide for us in myriad ways — clean air and water, steelhead and salmon, and plentiful wildlife — just as they inspire us. With a bold initiative now, we can protect these ancient forests from the most extreme effects of climate change, and be confident that future Californians can enjoy their majesty."
The League has already raised over $2.26 million towards the $5 million goal needed to fund initial projects, including support for the Forest Fellows program, which mentors the next generation of conservation foresters, and a $1 million grant from the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation. Redwoods Rising collaborators will continue to work together to cultivate new private philanthropic and public support for the project, with the League as lead and fiscal administrator.
Please visit RedwoodsRising.org for additional information and opportunities to support this exciting new initiative.
National Park Fees Finalized
Late last week the National Park Service (NPS) announced changes to the entrance fees charged at national parks. The changes, back off from much larger increases in response to public comments on a proposal released last October. Entrance fees will increase to raise additional revenue in a vain attempt to address the $11.6 billion in deferred maintenance across the system of 417 parks, historic and cultural sites, and monuments.
Most seven-day vehicle passes to enter national parks will be increased by $5 and will be implemented in many parks beginning June 1, 2018. Yosemite National Park for example will increase the price of a seven-day vehicle pass to the park from $30 to $35. More than two-thirds of national parks will remain free to enter. A complete list of park entrance fees may be found here.
All of the revenue from the fee increases will remain in the National Park Service with at least 80 percent of the money staying in the park where it is collected. The funds will be used for projects and activities to improve the experience for visitors who continue to visit parks at unprecedented levels. Increased attendance at parks, 1.5 billion visits in the last five years, means aging park facilities incurring further wear and tear.
“An investment in our parks is an investment in America,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “Every dollar spent to rebuild our parks will help bolster the gateway communities that rely on park visitation for economic vitality. I want to thank the American people who made their voices heard through the public comment process on the original fee proposal. Your input has helped us develop a balanced plan that focuses on modest increases at the 117 fee-charging parks as opposed to larger increases proposed for 17 highly-visited national parks. The $11.6 billion maintenance backlog isn’t going to be solved overnight and will require a multi-tiered approach as we work to provide badly needed revenue to repair infrastructure. This is just one of the ways we are carrying out our commitment to ensure that national parks remain world class destinations that provide an excellent value for families from all income levels.”
The price of the annual America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass and Lifetime Senior Pass will remain $80.
Entrance fees collected by the National Park Service totaled $199 million in Fiscal Year 2016. The NPS estimates that once fully implemented, the new fee structure will increase annual entrance fee revenue by about $60 million or 1/2 of 1% of the maintenance backlog, as the backlog continues to grow.
In addition to implementing modest fee increases and enhancing public-private partnerships aimed at rebuilding national parks, Secretary Zinke is working closely with Congress on proposed bipartisan legislation to use revenue derived from energy produced on federal lands and waters to establish a special fund within the Treasury specifically for “National Park Restoration”. The bill follows the blueprint outlined in Secretary Zinke and President Trump's budget proposal, the Public Lands Infrastructure Fund. However, the history of that funds suggests that it will not reach levels that will trigger release of funds to the Park Service under the current proposal.
U.S. Senator Tom Udall, ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, said: “Reasonable, periodic increases to entrance fees can be necessary, but I’m not convinced this is the right move for our national parks, which really are ‘America’s best idea.’ On the one hand, Secretary Zinke says he needs to raise fees to reduce the maintenance backlog at our parks, but on the other, he endorses the president’s proposals to cut funding for parks and royalty relief for big businesses that make money off of our public lands. Reducing the maintenance backlog will require thoughtful and realistic budgets and support from both parties and the administration. This fee increase just makes visiting our nation’s most spectacular landscapes and important cultural sites harder on working families.
“This decision is part of a pattern for Secretary Zinke’s Interior Department – there appears to be no local engagement, no detailed analysis, and no clear rationale for why these particular changes are needed now. I will be asking Secretary Zinke to provide a much more detailed explanation of his decision in writing.”
New at EXPLORE!
On Monday, we added an article about Whitney Butte in Lava Beds National Monument
and the two trails that can take you there. Here's the video, but you'll need to check out the article
for all the details.
Economy by Congressional District
On Tuesday, the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA)released congressional-level Outdoor Recreation Economy reports for all 435 congressional districts. These reports are the first of their kind that captures the power of a vast multi-billion dollar economic engine in our local communities and across the nation.
From Alabama's 1st Congressional District to Wyoming's At-large District, these reports show that from rural towns to the most densely populated cities, outdoor recreation is a vital economic force that not only creates billions in spending and millions of good-paying American jobs, but also creates healthier communities, healthier economies and healthier people.
"One-hundred and forty-five million Americans, from all walks of life, participate in outdoor recreation every year, and 7.6 million Americans have good-paying jobs that rely on the outdoor recreation economy. These reports show that all districts have something to gain when our federal and local policymakers support our public lands and waters and invest in outdoor recreation," said Amy Roberts, OIA executive director. "Outdoor recreation provides much-needed diversity to local economies, but also brings this country together. Across our country we have seen members of Congress, governors, state legislators, mayors and other policymakers understand the value of outdoor recreation for their local economies and communities. It is critical that we continue to invest in and support this growing and powerful recreation economy so that we can all continue to thrive outside."
Reports for all 435 congressional districts can be viewed here.
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Video of the Week
A few years ago we hiked the Dolason Prairie Trail in Redwood National Park. While we were searching for the world's tallest tree, we didn't quite get that far. Nonetheless, this week's video offers a look at the scenery and the interesting things we saw along the trail. Enjoy!