Help Save Rainbow Ridge
We at the Lost Coast League are excited about our current project. We have a great opportunity at this time, and your support is vital to its success.
The Humboldt Redwood Company (HRC) currently owns 18,000 acres in the Mattole River watershed, in an area known, historically, as Rainbow Ridge. Approximately, 1100 of these acres are virgin, Douglas fir forest, representing what may well be the highest value, intact, unprotected coastal forest habitat that remains in the state of California. We say, "unprotected" because, tragically, this priceless forest is vulnerable. Humboldt Redwood Company, while certified for sustainable forestry, has approved timber harvest plans to begin logging. This means that HRC can begin cutting in these inexpressibly beautiful, primeval forests at any time.
However, the situation is not hopeless. The Lost Coast League, through dialogues with the HRC, has influenced management decisions. Some older stands, which were slated for harvest, will be left intact at this time.
We seek your support with an endorsement today to save the forests of Rainbow Ridge. This area, as the maps on our website lostcoastleague.org illustrate, is a direct link between the Humboldt Redwood State Park and the King Range National Conservation Area – well known as the Lost Coast.
Over 35 years ago, The Lost Coast League, in conjunction with BLM and other partners, played an important role in acquiring the coastline of the beautiful Lost Coast for public use resulting ultimately in designation as a Wilderness Preserve. The opportunity before us now will bring these two vitally important areas “closer together” by permanently protecting the corridor that connects the Lost Coast with ancient giants of Humboldt Redwoods State Park.
All ecosystems are co-dependent in nature; protecting the link between these two natural treasures will enhance the habitat value of both areas for their many, dependent species. Our goal is preserving the biodiversity that still exists in this region. In addition, scientists have concerns that our tallest trees on earth, the coast redwoods, are threatened by climate change. Redwoods are experiencing a reduction in the fog that all summer they rake from the air with their tiny needles, dripping to their roots to provide essential moisture, without which they cannot survive. The temperate rainforests of Rainbow Ridge have, for centuries, provided a "fog buffer” for the adjacent majestic redwoods.
As our website demonstrates, we believe this to be one of, if not the most valuable, preservation opportunity in the state of California at this time.
Make sure to view the video that we made for the Rainbow Ridge Project.
Please indicate your endorsement, or that of your organization, to support efforts for protecting the ecological integrity of Rainbow Ridge by signing-on below. It will help us communicate the extent of support the project is generating in our communities and throughout the region and nation.
The Lost Coast League
Lost Coast League Proposal for a Working/Learning Landscape on Rainbow Ridge
The 18,000 acres of the Rainbow Ridge tract (the headwaters of the Upper and Lower North Forks of the Mattole River) present a unique opportunity to find answers to questions concerning landscape management and its interactions with the regional climate and ecological dynamics during a period of a changing climate. We are seeking partners to realize the vision of a working forest that yields valuable information for the managers of this land as well as for managers of similar lands and policy makers in California and beyond.
The issues: Climate change is happening, and California’s forests—the protectors of the water supply for the state—are suffering from it. The incidence of tree die-off and major wildfire is at alarming levels in the Sierra Nevada, and climate modeling suggests that future Sierra snow-packs will decline. However, US Drought Monitor maps from 2011 to present show the forested coastal zone at the southern end of the Pacific Cascadia temperate rainforest to have largely been spared severe drought—this forest zone, if allowed to reach functional maturity, may well become an important source of reliable water supplies into the future. But to understand what opportunities may exist, we must understand the relationships between forest health and climate in the region, and we must understand how forest management influences those relationships. To do this, it is essential that information be collected from the few remnants of un-entered, old forests that still exist. Remaining old-growth redwood stands are largely protected; old-growth coastal Douglas-fir stands are not, so the opportunity for this research is quickly disappearing in a forest type that once was widespread along the California coast—these stands may hold the key to understanding the conditions for a large swath of the coast before forests began to be logged in the mid-1800s.
The land: The property includes 1,100 acres of untouched coastal Douglas-fir/Hardwood forests, perhaps the largest intact forest of that type remaining. Coastal prairies cover much of the land, and the third component is cut-over Douglas-fir. Currently, the property is managed by Humboldt Redwood Company (HRC) whose stated intention is to restore the cut-over lands to health and productivity. Over the past two years, through an open process, HRC has declined to cut 86% of the old growth forest found in 3 approved Timber Harvest Plans. However, there is no permanent protection, and 14% may be cut in 2017.
The questions: The Rainbow Ridge forests would provide opportunities for research that are not available elsewhere. Here, where stands range in age from 10 to 300 years, it would be possible to compare un-entered stands with second-growth stands of various ages to assess differences in hydrologic response to fog; soil biological activity; carbon storage; responses to on-going shifts in temperature, rainfall, and fog frequency; and functions in supporting wildlife. It would also be possible to compare their roles and effectiveness as carbon sinks--as the Sierra forests burn with increased frequency, management of coastal forests to promote their role as carbon sinks may become increasingly important. We also need to better understand how the forests themselves once interacted with the local and regional climate and how those interactions have changed and will change in the future.
The opportunities: We believe that the Rainbow Ridge tract would be an ideal location for research for multiple reasons: (1) presence of old-growth remnants of a once-widespread forest type; (2) presence of an interested and involved human community: Mattole residents have been at the forefront of citizen-initiated campaigns to protect public trust values in their watershed, developing vibrant NGOs that partner with public land managers and state and federal agencies; (3) existence of data from earlier studies in the Mattole watershed; (4) management of the land by HRC, whose principal owners, Randi and Robert Fisher, are known for their intense interest in appropriate land management and issues of climate change; (5) presence of a mosaic of prairie and forestland (cut-over and un-entered), allowing assessment of interactions between interdependent ecosystems as both respond to climatic changes; (6) confirmed existence of Agarikon (Fomitopsis officinalis) and possibly other rare fungi; (7) adjacency to Humboldt Redwoods State Park, thus extending a wildlife corridor to the King Range National Conservation Area (BLM); and (8) proximity to Humboldt State University, which has a robust Natural Resources department.
Donate to the Rainbow Ridge Project via our LCL/Human Nature Account