Noyo River Redwoods
I would have been wholeheartedly disappointed if I went on the Skunk train only to go through deforested land. Lucky for me, the Redwoods League out of San Francisco, did much fundraising n order to buy 462 acres of old growth redwoods. It cost them 7.5 million dollars but it ensures the trees will not be harvested. The acreage is flanked by other private property so the land cannot be considered for a national park. It remains private property and the only way to see some of the oldest trees around is by riding the rails on the Skunk Train. Even though it is private property, the land has been turned over to a conservation organization( Mendocino Land Trust) which is tasked with protecting the trees forever.
The old growth forest had to be bought from the Willits Redwood Company. Old growth redwoods are highly prized. Old growth redwood , which has fewer knots, is sturdier and thicker, can fetch up to $10 dollars a board foot compared to a$1.80 a board foot for second growth redwood. Pretty pricy stuff. You can understand why lumber companies would like to harvest these trees. However, besides just being valuable in the lumber industry, these trees are pretty amazing ecosystems within themselves.
The ancient redwoods cover 123 acres of the land. Some of them are over 1500 years old. Now I did wonder how they could possible know how old the trees where without cutting them down. There are several ways, including measuring trunk girth, historical records etc. None of them as accurate as counting the rings. I guess if you are over a thousand years old, then it is close enough. There is also old growth Douglas fir mixed in.
The stand of trees provides habitats for the marbled murrelet, the bald eagle, the spotted and the pacific fisher. Bats live in charred hollows and the thick branches have red tree voles and many species of birds living on them. The ferns were lush as was the moss in the pools of water. In the wet weather there are waterfalls although we did not see any. The Noyo River is a breeding ground for Coho, Steelhead and Chinook salmon. The red-legged frog and the southern torrent salamander live in the wetlands near the headlands of theNoyo.
In total the 426 acre property has about 123 acres of ancient and old forest growth. That accounts for 30% of all remaining ancient and old forest in the Noyo River Watershed. The property protects habitats for about 40 rare and imperiled species included the northern spotted owl, the marbled murrelet, salmon and white flowered rein orchid. It cost 7 million dollars to purchase the property and it has taken over thirty years to preserve this grove of old growth trees.
Why the lumber company would want to log these trees, is understandable. Yet you can also understand why people fought so hard to preserve it. Not only has the preservation been beneficial for the animals and the plants, it is beneficial for us humans. What a great get away. Even though we were not far from civilization, it felt as if we not only left the town, but changed time. We were transported to another era if only for a few hours.