131: Sara Barth, Executive Director & Laura McClendon, Director of Land Conservation – Sempervirens Fund
Guest Name(s): Sara Barth, Larau McClendon
Matt speaks with Sarah Barth and Laura McClendon from Sempervirens, an organization dedicated to protecting redwood forests in California. They discuss the Redwoods’ role in sequestering carbon dioxide, contributing to climate change mitigation. Controlled burns and indigenous collaboration also play a crucial role in maintaining forest health and reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfires. Rising temperatures, shifting precipitation patterns, and changes in fog patterns are affecting redwood forests, leading to signs of stress and slower growth. Younger redwood trees are particularly vulnerable in the hotter, drier environment. Learn how you can get involved TO SAVE THE REDWOODS!
Episode Audio Links:
You’re listening to A Climate Change, this is Matt Matern, your host, and I have got two great guests on the program today, Executive Director of Sempervirens, Sara Barth, as well as Laura McClendon, Director of land conservation at sempervirens. Great organization that has saved tens of thousands of acres of redwood forests in California, and created helped create six state parks. So pretty amazing work. And it’s been around for what I understand, like 123 years, which is pretty amazing in and of itself. So welcome to you’re welcome to the show, Sarah and, Laura.
Thank you. 123 years is nothing in the span of a read one lifetime, see, you know, up to 2,000 years old.
That’s true. That’s true. It’s all a matter of context. So tell us a little bit Sarah, about how you came to join the organization and kind of what’s your journey that led you to this place?
Well, I’ve been working to protect natural wild lands and wild critters in this country for my entire career. And most of that time had been working at the national level on sort of broad policy efforts and land protection efforts nationwide.
But I started to get really interested in protecting the most magnificant species in my own backyard, which is coast redwoods. And so I joined sempervirens fun because they are so focused on protecting these amazing forests that are of global importance, but right here for Californians to enjoy.
Well tell us a little bit about why these trees have global importance.
Well, I think they’re remarkable just in and of themselves. They live, as I said to be 1000s of years old, they’re the tallest trees on earth. I think most people across age and culture, find them really inspiring, humbling, they affect people at an emotional level.
So they’re pretty special in that regard. But they’re also pretty incredible in terms of the amount of carbon dioxide that they can sequester. And so in that regard, they’re an essential part of solving the climate change problem that we have globally. But they are disproportionately important because of how much carbon they can sequester.
That was a little bit about how much carbon can a, an adult Redwood sequester more than any other species on Earth, we know that I want to give this a context to because telling you a tonnage of carbon is not very helpful, if that doesn’t mean.
So basically, we there’s a lot of variability in the Redwood range, but the coast redwood forest acre by acre has the highest potential carbon storage of any ecosystem on Earth that we know of so far, as far as measuring the carbon storage.
And just to mature old growth redwoods can remove and store 1600 tons of carbon from the atmosphere. And that’s as much as an American produces in their entire lifetime through their carbon dioxide emissions.
So that’s a lot, 1600 times, it’s a lot.
Yes, well, that for two trees. So you basically need two trees per person to offset lifetime carbon, your entire carbon footprint for your whole life.
So in terms of the work that you’re doing, what is the next step for you all in terms of are you planting redwoods and other forest trees in the forest or preserving just what is already growing and started, like describe our work in sort of two buckets.
One is to take existing natural redwood forests and ensure that they’re protected. So if they’re in private ownership, or we think they’re risks from development or logging, unsustainable logging, then we step into action and try to get them into a protected state. So that’s one area of work. And we’ve been doing that for over 100 years. And that continues because it continues to be the best way to protect those lands.
But the second way is to really restore the resilience of the forest that do exist and in some cases, that includes replanting, and adding to those forests, but mostly it’s taking an existing base of forest that may have been degraded by human activities. and working to restore its natural functions.
And the reason for that is because the more healthy the forest is, the more naturally it functions in terms of its hydrology, its wildfire, etc, the greater the chance that that forest can remain resilient, even in the face of climate change.
I’ve read a quite a bit about, about starting fires to kind of protect the forest and and yet that has some degree of danger. What, what is your organization kind of your position on it, or if you’re involved in those kinds of decisions at all?
Yeah, we are involved both in terms of doing prescribed or controlled burns on our own properties, supporting controlled burns on lands in the region owned by public agencies. And we’re interested in policy measures that can help make prescribed burning more possible.
And the reason for that is, you know, historically, naturally, redwood forests would burn regularly, but with low intensity, and it would help sustain the health of the forest, clearing out some of the underbrush keeping some of that fuel build up from from increasing, and a lot of that was sustained, actually, through indigenous practices.
And that all got interrupted about 100 100 plus years ago, when indigenous folks were displaced, and when European presence started to really try to control fire. And what we ended up with instead was when fires happened, which they inevitably do, they’re catastrophic. And they’re at a level and an intensity that is extremely destructive, even to the redwoods themselves.
And so the answer to that is to try to restore the normal, low severity fire cycles into this landscape. And that’s the way we’re going to protect both the redwoods and all their carbon sequestration capabilities, as well as protect the surrounding communities, human communities that are at risk from these more catastrophic fires. And, Laura, I’m gonna let you pipe up here, because you you can get much more detailed answers on some of these than I can.
Yeah, I mean, it’s surprisingly hard to kill a redwood and they are very well adapted to disturbance events, so flood, fire, wind events, droughts, they can keep growing and keep, you know, sustaining. So we really do focus on what are the deficiencies in the ecosystem right now that I, as Sarah mentioned, came about through, you know, settlement and the displacement of Native Americans.
And we have partnered with the ALMA Mutsun tribal band and NAMA, mutts and land trust on what’s called a cultural burn, which is unique from a prescribed burn and that cultural burns involve native peoples in the burning process. And we’ve let a few dozen acres on fire so far and seeing a huge difference in the health and resiliency of those acres versus areas that we haven’t yet done this lower intensity burning on.
So to sum it up the answer to your question, we are very pro burning, but we think it needs to be done under the right conditions, you know, to ensure public safety, safety to human structures. But we think really, I it may seem counterintuitive, but that more regular low intensity burning is the answer to avoid future catastrophic burns that are much more severe.
Well, I guess I read that it’s actually necessary to have fire to have the cones open up and and the germination process to occur in the redwoods. Is that accurate?
Not necessarily. But redwoods do respond to fire by sprouting all around their base. It’s called basil sprouting out of what’s called a burl, which is basically just a big seed store that’s waiting for a disturbance to trigger a growth event and it will keep growing new trees that way. So fire promotes new redwoods. It also really enhances the understory biodiversity number of species as well.
So, obviously, that’s challenging to start fires in California or anywhere else where there’s been a history of fires. What’s happening on the legislative front or the policy front with the organizations that are responsible for allowing that to occur? Controlled burns?
Yeah, there’s a lot of reasons as you noted that it’s hard to do fire in a place as dry as California and people, understandably are nervous about fires getting out of control. So there are all kinds of issues related to to liability for anyone who wants to start a fire, and so organizations like ours need to navigate that.
And the legislature is trying to make that easier for organizations and public agencies to do controlled burns in a safe way. So liability is an issue, you need to have resources, we won’t do a burn on our property without having a ton of fire engines around property in case the burn gets out of control. And so that’s a limiting factor.
And then, of course, there’s concerns about air quality and just even the right conditions on the ground, the right temperature, the right moisture levels, so the windows in which you can do burns are pretty limited. And so there are active discussions in the legislature about how to make it easier so that we can scale up across the state of California, the amount of burning that we’re doing.
Well, you’re listening to A Climate Change. I’ve got two great guests on the program, Sarah Barth and Laura McClendon from the Sempervirens Fund, which is protecting our redwoods here in California. We’ll be right back after these messages, stay tuned.
You’re listening to A Climate Change. I’ve got Sarah Barth and Lauren McClendon, both of Sempervirens Fund, which is protecting the redwoods throughout the state of California. Tell us a little bit about your efforts. Sarah and Laura to protect additional tracts of redwoods throughout the state where where do we stand on that front?
Yeah, we are always looking to protect additional acreage where we can. And we’ve got a number of ongoing projects, we tend to to prioritize but not exclusively play properties that are adjacent to existing protected areas. So adding on to landscapes that are already say state parks or other kinds of protected space is part of the strategy we use.
We’re also always looking for unique water features and other parts of the landscape that have variability. With the thinking being that with climate change, we’re not sure what habitats or micro habitats are going to be most conducive to survival for redwoods and other species. So we look to provide increased variability in the properties that we protect.
But at a big picture level, there’s a big set of three state parks in the Santa Cruz Mountains on Jana Weibo, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, and beautiful state park. And that’s a major cluster of old growth redwoods. And we’re really focused on trying to connect some of the remaining landscape between those parks because it’s it’s incredibly important old growth habitat and not some of its old growth.
Some of it’s not but it’s, it’s not currently protected. And so bigger is better from a conservation standpoint, particularly in terms of building climate resilience.
Laura is the director of land conservation, what’s your role in all of that?
My role is advising on what we should protect and what prioritization and we’ve been incorporating a lot more climate data into our acquisition prioritization. So what to protect and why climates really gone to the top. So again, we’re looking at climate refugees were the wetter places, we’re looking at definitely protecting the remaining old growth redwoods, which there aren’t that many old growth in the Santa Cruz Mountains aren’t already protected.
But there still are a few 100 acres that we’re targeting as essential for protection. So we’re incorporating that we’re looking at Wildlife movement and conductivity analysis where my wildlife move, where are they being stymied, and making certain they have pathways between these big protected areas parks, to move within and between, and many other really important factors to that we look at for for deciding what to protect.
And what what was your kind of trajectory in life that led you to Sempervirens?
I think first and foremost was just I’ve always loved nature. I’ve always loved animals, spent a great deal outside as a kid, thanks to parents that were very supportive of that. Not everybody has that. But it being exposed as a at a young age. You know, saw redwoods when I was a little kid. I started at sempervirens 17 years ago and and really grew within the organization to where I am now and just extremely passionate about the protection of this incredibly iconic species and our ecosystem.
But I also look at it very holistically, I’m not just protecting a tree, I’m protecting all of the other plants, all the other tree species, all of the wildlife that live in this forest ecosystem, and all of the people that benefit from visiting it from spending time in nature, and from, you know, getting clean air, clean water, and all of those other benefits as well.
Certainly, as someone who has spent some time myself in the old growth forests of California, it is a very special place. And I certainly encourage everybody who hasn’t been there to go check it out. Because it is truly breathtaking to be in an old growth redwood forest. It it is a spiritual experience.
So definitely everybody should go do it. And if you haven’t been there, go back recently, whatever. But I want to turn to how climate change is affecting the redwood forest. And what are you seeing kind of on the ground in terms of temperature changes and how that’s affecting the redwoods there that you’re closest to?
Well, climate change in our region is, is real and manifests in a lot of different forms, we’ve seen the average temperature in the region go up by two degrees Fahrenheit, and it’s projected to continue to go up another two to five degrees. We’re seeing change in precipitation, the region suffered a monumental drought. And then all of a sudden experienced atmospheric rivers that were de loses of water.
And so not only is precipitation getting more extreme, it’s just more unpredictable in ways that the native species including redwoods, haven’t been adapted to. We’re seeing change in fog patterns, which dramatically impacts coast redwoods, that’s where they get much of their moisture. So between drought temperature rise, change in fog patterns, we’re starting to see major impacts in the region from climate change.
And when you say major impacts, what does that look like?
Well, I mean, redwoods are incredibly resilient. So it’s not like people are going to come to our region and see a ton of dead redwoods immediately. But the trees are unquestionably under some significant stress. And we’re noticing that in particular, because individual trees are growing more slowly on an annual basis than they than they have in the past.
We do quarter samples from redwoods where you can look at the, at the tree pattern growth over the years, look at the tree rings. And we can see that in these drier, hotter years. They’re just growing more slowly. And so I think, you know, we haven’t seen mass extirpation of redwoods yet and we’re not expecting that. But we are seeing changes to the trees themselves.
Is it as hospitable to for the new trees to grow in this hotter, drier environment? Got it. Lord, do
you want to and I just say I think it’s unclear I think we know that the that younger trees, younger redwood trees that are starting their life now are facing stresses that their elder counterparts you know, hadn’t at their age necessarily, that said, redwoods, I need each other to survive. And we mentioned earlier the importance of you know, big protected areas and parks. Well, part of that is that the root system is interconnected.
And all of these trees are interrelated. A lot of them are clones of each other, although there’s a lot of genetic diversity. And they help each other in terms of nutrient signaling, water sharing water resources, I mean, there’s so much going on below the ground that we’re only just starting to find out about that said, bigger trees do better in fire.
They have much thicker bark, smaller trees, which are younger, so say anything under 100 years old, which are lot of our trees in the Santa Cruz Mountains, they might only have an inch or two of bark, whereas the old growth can have up to a foot of bark and that bark is very fire resistant.
Okay, well that’s kind of fascinating. So in terms of the new growth forest are weeds Seeing it get wiped out by the the recent fires, or would it get wiped out by a controlled burn or could it survive kind of a controlled burn it, we’re not seeing them get wiped out but we are seeing considerable damage to the second growth redwoods in that we we have complete loss of the canopy structure.
So all the needles and leaves that that that Redwood means in order to photosynthesize the, they can regrow their entire canopy, which is not something that most trees can do, which is pretty remarkable. That said, what we don’t know is how frequent, we’re going to have these big mega fires.
And if we have one every few 100 years, great, the redwoods can definitely sustain that if we have one every five years, 10 years, we’re gonna have some big issues in terms of redwoods survivability, which is why part of what we’re doing is trying to ensure that every other aspect of these forests is as healthy as possible to remove any other stressors that we can.
Whether it’s the, you know, human infrastructure and development that breaks up the habitat fragments it, whether it’s things that interfere with the natural flow of water throughout the ecosystem. So a large part of what we do is try to restore those forests to as natural of conditions as possible. So they can use their own ability to be as resilient as possible to the changing climate features that we’re seeing.
It is quite fascinating how the trees essentially communicate below ground through their root system and transfer nutrients and things of that nature is kind of a metaphor for us humans is what we could certainly work on doing better to each other and supporting each other. And they certainly can teach us some lessons on that front.
100% And a lot of people talk about those, those magnificent old green growth trees as the mother trees because they do function that the father’s can’t do, but they do function in a way akin to a human parent taking care of the younger saplings. And that is an area of research where they are learning more and more about how important those older trees are to the viability of the next generation of, of trees.
Well, it’s a fascinating subject and you’ll be stay tuned, everybody, we’re gonna be right back in just one minute. You’re listening to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern, your host and I’ve got Sarah bars and more McClendon who are with sempervirens. And we’ll be back in just one minute.
You’re listening to A Climate Change. And I’ve got Sarah Barth and Lauren McClendon, from sempervirens. And we were just talking before the break about the interdependence of the trees upon each other, and kind of like the turn to the interdependence of the humans on the trees and and, Sarah, maybe you could speak to that issue.
Yeah, I think often, even school kids are taught that forests are important for providing water and air quality. And that is true. But increasingly, we’re understanding that these forests and in particular redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains are really essential. Their health is intertwined with the health of the surrounding human communities. And it’s not surprising, if you think of it. But without healthy redwood forests, the region would experience much greater flooding than it already has been.
Why? Because those redwoods help slow the water down, absorb it onto the landscape and keep it from flooding into communities. Similarly, redwoods, in essence, create their own little micro climate and they are responsible for the generation of rain in this region, or at least parts of it. And this is an incredibly dry, arid place with not enough water for the people we already have.
And if we lose our redwood forests, we’re going to have a lot less rain in the region. Wildfire, it has been a huge threat to the human communities. And these these forests are very resilient to wildfire. They’re able to navigate it’s the wrong word. But if they are well managed and there’s regular low severity fire in these forests, there is a greater likelihood that the surrounding human communities are going to be protected from catastrophic fire.
So and more fundamentally at a macro level these forests as we started out the The podcast discussing absorbs such a huge amount of carbon, that they are, you know, contributing at a national global level to carbon carbon emission reduction, which is, of course, a macro level threat to the people of our region. So for a lot of reasons, these trees are essential to the surrounding communities health and well being.
Yeah, and I guess the thing that we should all be concerned about is the devastating fires that have run through, you know, these communities and many other communities throughout California and throughout the US and around the world. What can we do to kind of prevent these mega fires that have been burning? You know, kind of non stop? Seems like for the last few years, already?
Yeah, I think really key to to prevention of mega fires, or at least mitigation of them is promotion of prescribed fire and lower intensity fire, we have a lot of very supportive local communities in the Santa Cruz Mountains who get that fire is essential in low intensity burns, to keeping the forest healthy and defending their own homes.
But statewide, nationwide, there’s still a lot of resistance to burning, mainly because of the smoke it produces. And just the the the fear and the unknowns around why is this being done, and cannot be controlled.
And so we need to do a lot more education of the public at large about, you know, we need to have a little bit of smoke pretty much every year in order to avoid these mega mega events that have just devastating impacts on the forest, but also on the air quality and our and water capacity of our forests to take in water and store it for us.
I guess the question I have in terms of scaling, when one drives through the forest in California, you see miles and miles and miles of forest, and it just means a tremendous resource. And yet, the challenge of managing that amount of forest and doing prescribed burns through hundreds of square miles is is a gargantuan challenge. So maybe you can want to you can address that as to how do we realistically do that?
I think that is the challenge of this era for people who care about conservation, not just in California, but across. Well, much of the United States, certainly across much of the American West, it’s not just a challenge in Redwood forest. It’s true across the Sierra, and else and and elsewhere. And I don’t have an exact answer except it’s going to take a multi pronged approach that includes educating the public getting private landowners to be much more proactive about managing their own properties.
It’s going to take conversations at the community level about how and where people are living and how close they live to forests to protect themselves from those fires. It’s about thinning forests strategically, so that they can be more healthy and less prone to extreme fires, it’s really going to take multiple levels of effort. And there are certainly discussions both in Sacramento and in Washington DC, among government leaders about how we do more of that some of that is providing funding. And we’ve seen both the state and the feds do that.
But a lot of it is overcoming some of the community resistance and just putting in place the capacity, the skills that are needed to do the kinds of forest management that we’re talking about. Right now in California, a large part of forest, forest fire fighting. And prescribed burning is done by prisoners in our state prison system.
And regardless of whether that’s a good or bad thing, it just tells you that if we’re turning to that community to staff this, we have a problem and we need we need way more people who are who are skilled and trained to do that to do those kinds of that kind of work.
I think the manpower issue or human power issue is the biggest one of the biggest obstacles we just need more people trained to not only, you know fight mega fires, but also to prevent them in terms of lighting these low intensity prescribed fires and do forest management at a bigger scale. We can’t, we cannot nor should we necessarily go and treat every single acre that’s a lot of ground disturbance.
We can’t do that all at once. But what we need to do is return a regime of fire disturbance that will prevent these mega fires. And it just requires a lot of boots on the ground.
Yeah, that’s kind of what I was thinking. And I’m glad that I’m not completely delusional on that front. That seems like it’s a gargantuan job. And I guess the question is, well, how do you map out? What are the most important areas to target first, because we clearly have a lack of resources to do it everywhere all at once. So, you know, of of any organization that’s really mapping it to determine, hey, this area is the most prone to a magnifier, and how do we protect that area?
Well, for sure we’re doing that on our properties. I know state parks is doing it on their properties. I think every major landowner in the state who is at all responsible is thinking about these questions. And the very short answer is, you know, among other things, we have to think first about where do we reduce the risk to human communities, and work backwards from there even achieving that is a major goal, a major task.
But some of it’s also informed by where there are extremely rare species, or particular places where we know historically fire has burned over and over and over again, where you know that the risk is more severe. And there’s a variety of hydrological and topographical issues that help us understand where fire is likely to get more extreme. I don’t know, Laura, you may have other things you want to mention. But but you’re 100%. Right, Matt, that this is a gargantuan task, it needs to be prioritized. And we need to sort of triage within the work that we’re doing.
That’s a very good way to put it. Sarah is we are triaging in a lot of ways, but we really do need more support from the public from the state in order to deploy more people and have less barriers politically, in order to do the work that’s needed to restore resiliency and protect these ecosystems and protect our human communities as well.
So in terms of kind of pivoting a little bit to this trillion trees idea that one hears a fair amount about in different publications, what, what are your positions about that? And are you in support of it? And if so, what types of things are you doing to support that goal? Yeah, I mean, in general, we think more trees are good, but it needs to be the right trees.
You know, in in the Bay Area, we have a history of eucalyptus having been planted, well intentioned, and now each, each eucalyptus tree is like a little, big gas tank ready to explode when fire hits it. And that’s not the kind of species we need. We need the species that were historically here and are equipped and adapted to live here.
So Sempervirens does plant new trees. back we had a big project in Castle Rock State Park where we were planting black oak. So it’s it’s not a it’s definitely something that we do, but it needs to be done in a way that’s not just planting, like it’s an agricultural crop where you put a row of, you know, ten Christmas trees that never would have grown there naturally. Laura, is there anything you would add?
I would add that there’s a great opportunity, I think on the margins of the redwood range to potentially look at expanding the range, northerly and in areas that maybe redwoods would adapt to with climate change. So that’s where new plantings might be beneficial.
It’s oh, it’s also always great to do a for our is a forestation which is planting where an area was DeForest is entirely the redwoods have mostly been logged over almost 95% of the old growth that once was now remains, we’ve lost about 400,000 acres to conversion, which means, you know, agriculture development, and we have about 1.6 million acres of redwood forest still in existence. And so planting along, you know, along those margins, filling in those gaps is very key to their survival as well.
But the highest priority is to protect the existing natural forests that are currently unprotected, right because they’re already they’ve already got to start a jump on. But certainly I think over time, more and more of our work will be focused on planting new new redwood forests.
Well, you’re listening to A Climate Change, I’ve got Sarah Barth and Laura McClendon on the program today from sempervirens, talking about redwoods and we’ll be right back in just one minute.
You’re listening to A Climate Change. And this is Matt Matern. And I’ve got Sarah Barth and Laura McClendon, on the program from Sempervirens. And Sarah, and, and, and Laura, tell us a little bit about this climate resilience bond that’s working its way through the state legislature, and how would that affect both your organization and California as a whole?
Yeah, I mean, climate resilience is an issue up and down the state of California. And it plays out in different ways on the coasts in the Redwoods amongst our oak woodlands, you know, in our deserts. And so there’s an effort in the state legislature to put together a climate resilience bond.
And this would provide, and there are different versions of it that are being floated, but approximately $15 billion in funding for various kinds of climate resilience efforts, including the kinds of wildfire, reintroduction of wildfire that we’ve been discussing, but a bunch of other things as well to help with sea level rise and flooding, mitigation, and all the kinds of things that are needed to respond to protect the natural and human landscapes here in California.
And that will move forward if the public supports it. And so I think our listeners, your listeners, can engage by encouraging members of the legislature to advance that and encouraging the governor to support that kind of effort.
And then we had kind of talked a little bit offline about this federal legislation that Congressman Jimmy Panetta is, is forwarding tell us a little bit about that legislation and why it is important to
Yeah, he’s, he’s introduced along with with Senator Feinstein, so they worked on that before she passed away. legislation that’s intended to provide increased funding for forest management on federal lands, national forests, we have a huge amount of national forest here in California, a large part of the redwood range is on federal Forest Service lands.
And so this legislation was intended to help provide more funding and expedite the work that is being done on federal forest lands to deal with climate resilience to enhance climate resilience. So that’s an important effort.
I know that a number of people as well, it’s have been pushing for 50% of all lands to be wild by 2050. And the current effort in California is 30% by 2030. Where are we at right now? And are we on a path that we could put aside 30% of California lands by 2030?
Yeah, well, we’re, of course, going to support 50% by 2050. But let’s first get to 30% by 2030. And in our region, the Santa Cruz Mountains region, we’re actually doing pretty well. And sempervirens has used that framework to help drive our own goals for additional land we’d like to protect in order to reach that target of 30%.
And if you look at the whole state overall, I think we’re I don’t know if we’re on track to succeed, but we’re certainly it’s it’s reachable, right? It’s not a complete moonshot. But what it’s going to take is two things one additional public funding and private funding, such as sempervirens provides to purchase those lands to ensure they’re protected to reach that 30% of land protected by 2030.
And secondly, I think there needs to be a greater effort to streamline some of the bureaucracy that exists at the state level. That makes it hard for lands to be protected and turned into public lands where they can be managed appropriately. And so I think both things need to occur if we’re going to reach that 30 by 30 goal. Certainly there seems to be political will for that. I think the question is whether that those changes, and that amount of funding can happen fast enough.
Tell us a little bit about the nuts and bolts of purchasing these redwood forest areas in terms of cost, I mean, how much would it cost to, to to purchase a 10 acre tract or 108 All right.
Well, I’ll let Laura give you the details on that. But I will just tell you as someone who has to fundraise for those purchases, this is some of the most expensive acreage to protect anywhere in the country and maybe anywhere in the world.
And the reason is we’re paying for not only the real estate value, the development value of the land in question, and we’re competing with very wealthy people who’d like to have a second home in the Santa Cruz Mountains, but we’re also paying for the timber value of those redwoods, which is incredibly valuable. So it’s crazy expensive to protect land in this region. Laurie, do you want to tell him what the most recent cost per acre is?
Yeah, it is, as Sarah said, we are we are protecting some of the most costly land in probably in the entire world at the footstep of Silicon Valley. And we’re looking at prices that are anywhere from, I would say 8000 to $20,000 per acre, if not even greater. And interestingly enough, the smaller the property, the usually the higher the cost per acre, we find, so it really is more cost effective for us to go after much larger properties.
That said, we consider all ranges of size and the properties and their characteristics in order to create, you know, a really thriving, protected connected forest ecosystem, or in terms of buying something now, do you have properties that you’re working on purchasing at the moment? Are you fundraising for them now? And how much of how much is it going to cost to buy this land?
Yeah, that’s the bread and butter of our work since 1900, was really about buying land from willing sellers. So we’re a nonprofit organization, we’re non governmental. So we work in partnership with private landowners who want to sell their properties outright, or who want to sell or, or donate, although most of the time, we are purchasing them at a cost.
And then landowners who may not want to park from their land entirely, but are willing to give up certain rights like future development rights, future timber rights, and that’s called a conservation easement that we purchase, which is, is several of those sticks in the bundle of rights. And very more cost effective way actually to protect a large amount of acreage than just fee acquisition.
But we do pursue many, many tools in order to protect as much acreage as possible. Just to give you a specific example, we’ve been in active dialogue with property owners who have about 1000 acres that we’re very interested in. And that price tag looks to be around $15 million.
So if anybody who’s listening has got an extra $15 million or any part of $15 million, please give to Sempervirens.
We can put it to good use.
No doubt. 1,000 Acres is a lot of land about two, almost two square miles of redwoods. So that that’s an amazing piece of property to to protect for future generations to have these trees, which I think any of us who have experienced being in redwood forests know how special that is.
Yeah, they’re very replaceable.
So tell us a little bit as to our listeners, I’d love to you leave them with a call to action as to what they can do to get involved with your organization or other organizations and maybe weave a little bit in as to maybe what your experience is in that domain, whether for yourself or other volunteers. And what that
Well, I would encourage people to check out our website, which is sempervirens.org. And on that you can find first of all, a lot more information about the issues we’ve been talking about. We’ve got a detailed climate action plan on it and a whole series about climate and redwoods.
So if you want to learn more, but in addition, you can learn about opportunities to volunteer literally get your hands dirty and go in and help with some of our land stewardship efforts, as well as other volunteer opportunities help us with attendance at events, tabling, things like that. And yeah, so Oh, the other thing on our website that you’ll find is where there are opportunities to engage in the policy process and lend your voice to the political discussions that impact the future of redwoods.
Your and Laura, last words for our audience.
I would say that the solutions for mitigating climate change are already in front of us. These natural solutions. And the best way that any individual can promote that is by supporting conservation groups that are protecting land protecting redwoods, especially sempervirens been, but there are so many groups that are doing this incredible work. And it’s very effective. And we just need to keep scaling it up in order to protect our forests and natural resources.
Well, thank you both Sarah and Laura for being on the program and sharing with us the great work that you’re doing at sempervirens. And certainly call to action for all of us to to step up and do more. Because our whole our whole world is at stake. So it seems like we can all do more. Everybody follow us at climate change.com
You can check out all the episodes there on Apple Music or Spotify I Heart Radio. We’ve got all the episodes up there. Check us out send requests for questions or guests that we can interview in the future. We really enjoyed having both Sarah and Laura on program and hopefully we can have you back sometime in the future.
Thank you for having us and thank you for your interest in the redwoods.
(Note: this is an automatic transcription and may have errors in formatting and grammar.)
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