Redwood Futures brings together forest stakeholders, working session in Redway this Saturday

Virginia Graziani

Redwood Times

Residents of southern Humboldt and northern Mendocino willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work on behalf of the redwood bioregion are invited to attend the Redwood Futures Working Session this Saturday, March 13, from 12:30 to 5 p.m., at the Redway School gymnasium.

An ad hoc committee of representatives from several organizations is putting together this working session, the latest in a series of events intended to create collaboration among foresters, environmentalists, and other stakeholders to craft a better economic and ecological future for the redwood region.

John Rogers and Chip Tittmann of the Institute for Sustainable Forestry, Art Harwood and Richard Gienger of the Redwood Forest Foundation, and Kathy Moxon of Redwood Coast Rural Action are planning the event to build upon a history of similar gatherings, particularly the Redwood Futures workshop at Humboldt State University in October of last year and the Mendocino County Redwood Futures event held Jan. 10.

The Redway workshop will emphasize developing action plans and getting individual commitments to work on those plans.

The ultimate goal of the many events and facets of the Redwood Futures concept is to "get past the timber wars, get past the current condition of the land, and move toward a more positive future that supports forest productivity, ecological services, and community viability and vibrancy," Rogers stated.

Harwood added, "Our principles are a manifestation of our commitment to work together no matter how hard it gets -- and we know how hard it can get."

For the past ten years, groups such as ISF, RFFI, the North Coast Regional Land Trust, the Buckeye Conservancy, and others have been working on ways to bring all the redwood region stakeholders together. But it was the October 2009 issue of the National Geographic magazine featuring several articles about the redwood forest that galvanized public interest.

Biologist and explorer Michael Fay’s 400-mile transect of the redwood forest from Santa Cruz to southern Oregon, accompanied by local forest activist Lindsey Holm, was chronicled in the National Geographic -- "a gauntlet thrown down, challenging diverse interests and perspectives to come together to craft a strategy for action," as Rogers describes it.

After studying the biology of the redwood forest and learning about various timber management scenarios during the transect, Fay concluded that practices that sustain old growth forests not only maximize environmental benefits but also provide the greatest amount and highest quality of wood products for a growing world population.

Fay will kick off the Redway working session this Saturday with an introduction to the issues and an inspirational call to action.

Following Fay’s talk, participants will break up into small groups to address specific subjects, including restoration, marketing value, biomass utilization, tourism, capital development, and expanding opportunities for youth in the woods.

The breakout groups will work to define objectives in their area of interest, develop activities to meet those objectives, identify needed resources and how to obtain them, and get commitments to action from the participants.

At the end of the day, breakout groups will report back to the participants as a whole, but the overall goal is to create cohesive action groups with plans and commitments.

The ad hoc steering committee then sees its role as facilitating communication, not only between the local groups, but also between working groups throughout the redwood region.

"We are committed to make this a movement across the bioregion that supports the redwood forest," Moxon said. That region potentially encompasses a long swath of coastline from San Luis Obispo County to Curry County in Oregon, although groups participating in Redwood Futures so far cover a somewhat smaller area from Santa Cruz County to Del Norte County.

Everyone willing to make a commitment to work on the issues is welcome to attend the Redway event. Admission is free, and food will be available for purchase.