Save the Redwoods League, the nonprofit dedicated to protecting over 214,000 acres of California’s majestic redwood and giant sequoia forests, celebrated its 100th birthday with a spectacular gift: the announcement that within three years, the organization will open to the public a new redwood reserve one-third larger than the great Muir Woods National Monument.
One hundred miles north of San Francisco, in Sonoma County, the Harold Richardson Redwoods Reserve has been privately held as part of the over 8,000-acre Richardson Ranch, a sustainable logging and cattle ranch and vineyard established in 1876. The reserve boasts over 300 old growth redwoods, some standing over 300 feet tall—competing with the height of the Statue of Liberty. Largely untouched for hundreds of years, the reserve held a special place in the eponymous patriarch’s heart, who passed on his philosophy for responsible land stewardship to his successors.
“He always tried to maintain and manage the property for the long-term, instead of taking as much as he possibly could at once,” explains Richardson’s great-nephew, Dan Falk, who now runs the ranch. “Deep down, Harold Richardson was a conservationist. It’s wonderful to leave this untouched redwood forest in his honor…the land is protected forever, and there’s an opportunity for people to enjoy it.”
The acquisition came after eight years of discussions between the organization and the family, and at a price tag of $9.6 million, plus a separate property exchange, for the 738-acre trove of redwoods.Now that the exchange has been finalized, Save the Redwoods looks forward to creating access for the public to enjoy the property, including networks of hiking trails and wildlife viewing platforms designed not disrupt the sensitive ecological landscape.
Among the gentle giants is the McAlpin tree, the oldest known redwood south of Mendocino County, at 1,640 years, with a trunk diameter as wide as a two-lane street.
“Because it has been undisturbed for generations, the property presents a unique window into the Sonoma coast ecosystem before settlement,” explains Sam Hodder, president and CEO of Save the Redwoods League. “The Richardson preserve is a critical step towards that goal, and by sharing this special forest with the public, we can engage visitors from around California and beyond on our vision to save the redwoods.”
To follow the project’s development and begin planning for your own future road trip, visit Save the Redwoods League.