The Last Redwood in Anderson Valley August 12, 2005
No visit to California could possibly be complete without a visit to the grand majesties of the terrestrial Earth, the redwoods. (The giant cetacea are the grand majesties of the oceanic Earth.) Small groves of Coastal Redwoods are located in Big Basin State Park (Santa Cruz) and Muir Woods (Marin), with the largest stands protected in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park and Redwood National and State Park of Northern California. Two groves of Giant Sequoia are nestled in Yosemite National Park and a larger forest is in the aptly named Sequoia National Park in Central California. All are worth a visit. (There are 19 state parks preserving redwoods or sequoias; click here for the list.)
A lesser-known and therefore less visited forest of coastal redwoods can be found in the Anderson Valley of Mendocino. The redwoods in Hendy Woods State Park almost didn't survive; in an old, oft-told tale of humanity reaping the "profits of Nature," every last redwood in the valley was slated for logging until one individual (not a "tree-hugger", but a businessman who recognized the loss entailed by the cutting of every last one of the magnificent, irreplaceable redwoods) fought to save the last stand. After much effort with various allies, this last grove of redwoods--a small patch of what once covered the great long valley--was bought by the state. (There is another stand of redwoods at the western end of the valley, Navarro River Redwoods State Park, but it contains second-growth redwoods, not the ancients found in Hendy.)
I highly recommend a drive through the Anderson Valley to either visitor or resident. It harbors quintessential Californian scenery, from the coastal fog and rough rock-strewn shores to the lushness of redwoods to the vineyards of the valley slopes to the arid oak-dotted hills of the eastern entrance to the valley. (Roederer Estates is certainly worth a stop if you like sparkling wines; click here for a complete list of valley wineries.)
The significance of the Hendy Redwoods is two-fold; first, the redwoods were saved by the determined effort of one individual; let no one say that one or two people cannot make an enduring difference: they most certainly can, and the Hende forest is proof. Secondly, it shows the incredibly short-sighted stupidity of the human race, for we as a species will cut down the last tree, hook the last fish and shoot the last tusked mammal to reap the short-term "profit" of "harvesting" the death of a species. We as a species are impoverished by such heedless, merciless liquidation, if not directly then indirectly; and the planet is most assuredly improverished by the loss of local species and habitats.
Look no further than the cod fisheries of the Eastern seaboard, the Matto Grosso of the Amazon or the silent jungle canopies of central Africa for current examples of such short-sighted, irreparable destruction.
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copyright © 2005 Charles Hugh Smith. All rights reserved in all media.
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