Mendocino County redwood forests featured in National Geographic documentary

Art Harwood, Executive Director of the Redwood Forest Foundation (RFFI), has just returned from Washington D.C. where he was featured on a National Geographic Society Panel in conjunction with the world premiere screening of their documentary "EXPLORER: Climbing Giant Redwoods."

The documentary will be shown on the National Geographic channel for public viewing at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Sep 29. It records J. Michael Fay, NGS Explorer in Residence, on an 1800-mile journey deep into the redwood forests of northern California and southern Oregon. The film provides an illuminating look at these marvelous trees from the outermost edges of the forest to the tip of the tallest trees. Spectacular redwood region trees and wildlife were photographed by National Geographic photographer Michael Nichols for the article. The article sizes up the health and future of the redwood region and scales trees 30 stories high.

Mr. Harwood was invited by the National Geographic Society to participate on a panel on Sep 21 with Nichols, Fay, and Steven Sillett, tree scientist of Humboldt State University. Sillett’s work as a canopy expert is featured in the documentary. Joel Bourne, the author of "The Tallest Trees," October 2009 National Geographic was the moderator. Harwood was chosen to address the topic of "working community forests" as demonstrated by the work of the Redwood Forest Foundation.

There were more than 350 people in attendance at the affair which took place at National Geographic Society Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Elected officials, their representatives and redwood region advocates were all in attendance.

Harwood and Fay took the opportunity to meet with elected officials to bring them up to date on the needs of the redwood region. They met with Congressman Mike Thompson and staff, Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey’s staff and Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein’s staff. They had a lively personal meeting with Congressman Don Young of Alaska. Harwood and Fay had a productive meeting with Jay Jensen, USDA Deputy Under-Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment.

The release of the National Geographic article and the documentary provide residents of the redwood region with an unparalleled opportunity to educate Congress and the public about the critical needs of the region. This is the fourth time in an 110-year period that the National Geographic Society has focused on this extraordinary landscape. The Society’s first trip and article on redwoods appeared in 1899. The Society’s second trip and resulting article "Saving the Redwoods League" (1917) influenced the formation of the Save-the-Redwoods League. In 1964 National Geographic revisited the redwood region again, finding the tallest tree on earth, and this resulted in congressional action that created Redwood National Park and was largely responsible for the founding of many state parks and reserves in California.

Fay points out that after almost 40 years of intense logging, settlement and road building, 95 percent of the original forest has been cut. Fay’s transect documents, first-hand, the enormous damage of past uses, land fragmentation, decline in forest productivity and ecosystem function. These losses are directly felt by landowners, local residents and the State of California and are seen in fishery declines, stream sedimentation and regional economic difficulties. Despite this Fay sees many reasons for hope. Through innovations in practices and regulation, a new reality of forest management is developing.

The Redwood Forest Foundation, RFFI, a not-for-profit organization, has been in the forefront of this new and innovative type of management that Fay discovered on his trek. After working for eleven years to unite residents, scientists, environmentalists, economists and corporate interests who held widely disparate points of view, RFFI purchased the 51,000-acre Usal redwood forest which has become a living laboratory for demonstrating unique environmental, economic and community based management practices. See www.rffi.org for more info.

Advertisement