Protecting Water Quality and Old-Growth Connectivity
In December 2011 Siskiyou Land Conservancy protected 73 acres along a year-round creek that feeds the important spawning habitat of the Wild and Scenic South Fork Eel River. The easement is also important because the land is adjacent to two ancient redwood “islands” and thus provides important habitat connectivity.
Despite the region’s extensive and sparsely populated private land holdings, there is very little protected private property in the Redway area. The easement protects excellent redwood habitat, and is adjacent to two state-owned redwood groves in the Redway area. The adjacent groves are Whittemore Grove (250 acres) and Stable Slopes Grove (581 acres). Nearby are Holbrook Grove (300 acres) and O’Meara Grove (under 50 acres).
All four of these state-protected redwood groves contain ancient forest habitat, with some of areas being pristine and “unentered” by machinery, development or logging. These state groves comprise the John B. DeWitt State Reserve, a designation that provides one of the highest levels of protection available in the state park system. SLC’s protection of the private parcel adds a critical component to this network of publicly owned forest groves.
The state-owned forest groves fall within the Richardson Grove State Park complex, which provides the largest ancient redwood habitat between Humboldt Redwoods State Park, fifteen miles north, and Big Basin State Park, in Santa Cruz County. Due to the isolated and scattered nature of the Richardson Grove habitat, adjacent properties, such as the land now protected by Siskiyou Land Conservancy, become increasingly important for maintenance of wildlife habitat and migration corridors; for protection of clean water sources for salmon and steelhead; and for plant populations dependent on the redwood forest ecosystem.