On Friday, June 12, the Redwood Forest Foundation (RFFI) dedicated a majestic old redwood tree and bestowed its highest honor, that of Founder, on The Conservation Fund. The fund was among five individuals and organizations that were honored.
In addition RFFI dedicated redwood trees to the Wildlife Conservation board, Save the Redwoods League, State Coastal Conservancy and Donald S. Kemp, PhD and Edgar B. Kemp Jr. RFFI reserves the term Founder and the dedication of these old growth redwood trees to those very few individuals and organizations who have played an absolutely crucial and fundamental role in helping the foundation to achieve its important mission of acquiring and conserving California’s redwood forests.
The dedication took place in Founder’s Grove, near the old town of Kenny, deep in Usal Redwood Forest. Richard Gienger, a RFFI board member and Southern Humboldt County resident, was among a small group of RFFI supporters present, including representatives of the Bank of America and Campbell Timberland Management.
Kathy Moxon, president, a Humboldt County resident acknowledged The Conservation Fund for their enlightened leadership, extraordinary financial support and long-term professional guidance in helping to fulfill RFFI’s mission. Their vision, diligence, and willingness to address complex and sometimes adverse situations demonstrates their deep and abiding interest in the ultimate well-being of the residents of this region and California as a whole. They collaborated with conservation partners to complete a complex regional conservation transaction valued at $25.5 million that impacted an area one-and-a half times the size of the city of San Francisco.
Chris Kelly, California program director of The Conservation Fund, was present to accept the award from RFF’s executive director Tom Tuchmann. Kelly provided skilled leadership and guidance to all of the parties of this transaction from its outset in 2007. The Conservation Fund served as the applicant for the 19.5 million dollar bond request that was eventually used to pay for the conservation easement. The fund also raised an additional $500,000 to help complete the transaction.
The Conservation Fund’s founding purpose is to secure sustainable environmental and economic benefits for local communities. The fund partnered with RFFI’s pioneering efforts to establish locally owned working forests that resulted in the permanent protection of this forest.
Following the award, Kelly addressed those present: "I have long been inspired by RFFI’s vision and steadfast commitment to conserving forests for all they provide for the natural and human communities on the North Coast. It was a privilege to be part of the team that secured the permanent protection of the Usal Forest and we are humbled by the honor that RFFI has bestowed on us today."
Chris Kelly’s unflagging support and steady pursuit of this goal helped RFFI secure the largest working forest conservation easement in California. The fund currently monitors the Usal Forest conservation easement. In addition they own more than 40,000 acres of timberland in Mendocino County.
Visit www.rffi.org to read more about the event and the honorees. PHOTOS COURTESY OF JOHN BIRDHARD
1. The Founders dedication group stands in front of a majestic redwood tree.
2. Tom Tuchmann (left), executive director of the Redwood Forest Foundation, honored Chris Kelly of The Conservation Fund for the work he and the fund have done on behalf of the region’s forests and residents.