The north Californian coast is home to the earth’s tallest (and some of the oldest) living trees. The Sequoias, or Coast Redwoods, are between five and 13 centuries old and have witnessed the settlement of the region by Indian tribes, the coming of Europeans, the founding of a new nation, and the decimation of their own species by the lumbering industry. Named after a Cherokee chief, the redwood needs moist, heavy loam and lots of water and fog to give shade from the sun. A damp shady atmosphere pervades, and ferns and thick undergrowth covers the ground – it’s like being an elf in the forest of the Lady of the Wood (of Lord of the Rings fame). A natural hush envelopes the you.
Enough of the spiritual stuff. The wood of the Sequoia is extremely durable and the tree is very resistant to disease, fire and insects (due to its resin and spongy bark). For these reasons it became the target of the lumber industry and from 1820 to today California was stripped of the giants from 2 million acres to less than 270,000. Apparently all but a few thousand stand to go by the end of the century. The fight to save the redwoods dates from 1927 when the Save the Redwoods League played an important part in the formation of the present State Park system. Evidence of lumbering is everywhere in redwood land especially in towns like Eureka, Scotia and Willits that were built largely on forestry wealth. Although many of these operations have shut down due to the decline of the construction industry during the recent recession, it still seems sad to see companies operating that decimate these magnificent trees.