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Santa Cruz Mountains Old-Growth Campaign

Santa Cruz Mountains Old-Growth Campaign

If we do not purchase and protect this land today, we could lose forever the opportunity to make this ancient forest available to the public.

Watch the Protecting Peters Creek Video! If we do not purchase and protect this land today, we could lose forever the opportunity to make this ancient forest available to the public.

You Helped Us Secure Matching Gifts

January 24, 2014: Thanks to the generous J.A. Woollam Foundation, an additional $68,000 of your gifts were matched in our Santa Cruz Mountains Old-Growth Campaign. The J.A. Woollam Foundation donated the gift in addition to its initial pledge of $100,000! We also thank our anonymous donor for the gift of $55,000 to this campaign. So far we've raised about $5.5 million of the $8 million needed to purchase and protect some of the most magnificent old-growth redwood forest still left in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

If we do not raise the rest, we could lose forever the chance to open this ancient forest for the public's enjoyment.

You can help us raise the rest of the funds by donating today. In quick property sales like this one, we can't afford to be patient and wait for donations to come in. We know we can count on donors like you.

Learn About These Hidden Wonderlands

Nestled in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains, less than an hour's drive from the bustle of South San Francisco Bay, lie some of the most beautiful old-growth redwood forests left in the region. Working with a willing seller, Save the Redwoods League has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase the stunning Peters Creek Old-Growth Forest and protect a second property — Boulder Creek Forest — through a conservation agreement. Given their proximity to the San Francisco metropolitan area, both properties face the very real risk of subdivision and development for estate homes.

In Peters Creek Old-Growth Forest stand 145 acres of stunning redwoods, including jaw-dropping old giants. Here, Peters Creek ripples through deep canyons and past five-finger ferns and carpets of redwood sorrel. This coveted land would make a spectacular addition to Portola Redwoods State Park, offering easy access to a beautiful old-growth redwood grove.

"Peters Creek Old-Growth Forest is the finest privately owned redwoods property that I know of in the Santa Cruz Mountains," said Victor Roth, a District Services Manager for California State Parks. "It is characterized by its many huge, magnificent trees, its open and sunlit creek valley, and its potential easy access to existing state park land and trails."

If we do not purchase and protect this land today, we could lose forever the opportunity to make these ancient trees available to the public. Protecting these giants has been a dream of conservationists for generations: Now it's time to act.

At the same time, we can protect Boulder Creek Forest, a beautiful 214-acre parcel of old-growth redwood forest held by the same owners. Adjacent to Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Santa Cruz County, this property would be safeguarded through a conservation agreement that would prohibit harvesting of its massive redwoods and subdivision of the land. It's rare that so many acres of ancient redwoods come on the market, especially giants so close to the densely populated San Francisco Bay Area.

Protecting these forests is an important part of the Living Landscape Initiative, an innovative effort by the League and four other conservation organizations to create and maintain a vibrant, sustainable living landscape in the heart of coastal California. Working together, our goal is to protect the Silicon Valley area's vast open spaces, broad biodiversity and dramatic natural beauty, including 30,000 acres of redwood forests.

See a map of the Peters Creek and Boulder Creek Projects.

A Walk Through Peters Creek Old-Growth Forest

Join us on a journey to Peters Creek Old-Growth Forest, a secret coast redwood gem where time stands still, and surprises delight the senses around every corner. After just a 45-minute drive from San Jose, you are above fingers of white clouds that reach into surrounding valleys. Winding roads lead you through tunnels of trees, past curious deer and wandering turkeys.

Then you descend into the redwood forest, thick with young and ancient coast redwoods, tanoak and delicate ferns. Trails cling to the steep canyon walls spotted with sunlight. The only sounds: the "wake-up, wake-up" calls of the acorn woodpecker and the soothing ripple of Peters Creek. The sweet scent of California bay laurel hangs in the air. You stop to take it in, then realize an immense coast redwood is behind you. It would take six adults, arms outstretched, to encircle this giant. Its top is so high, it's out of sight.

Mammoths like this tree are rare in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The California real estate boom in the mid-1880s created a huge demand for lumber. Because of this demand, more than 90 percent of the nearly 200,000 acres of redwood forest here has been cut down at least once. This means most of the redwoods in these mountains are no more than 140 years old. But giants like the one behind you are many times older. Other colossal red columns stand on this property, waiting for you to find them.

Continuing deeper into this forest, the air cools as you descend to the edge of clear Peters Creek, a home for imperiled steelhead trout. The creek's sandy banks beckon you to wade in its refreshing waters. The sound of the creek's flow carries your cares away. After a rest at this secret haven, you can stroll just a few more minutes, cross into Portola Redwoods State Park and reach the astounding giants along Peters Creek Loop trail.

"This is a cathedral, the kind of place where those who love nature get their religion," said Tom Stienstra, writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. You can reach this cathedral in just 15 minutes by hiking through the equally stunning Peters Creek Old-Growth Forest.

With your critical support today, the League will purchase and care for Peters Creek Old-Growth Forest until we can transfer it to a permanent steward.

Peters Creek Gallery

Protecting Boulder Creek Forest

Your support also will help us acquire a conservation easement on Boulder Creek Forest. This agreement with the same landowners will protect the forest from subdivision and commercial timber harvesting and help buffer the resources in nearby Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California's oldest state park. This forest also protects the water source for the city of Santa Cruz and provides homes for a wide range of wildlife, including the marbled murrelet, an imperiled seabird that nests in ancient trees.

The effort to protect Boulder Creek Forest now is a step in the remarkable lineage of conservation that began around 1902, when public voices cried out to save the old-growth coast redwood forests from logging in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The League joined this historic effort in 1962, when we purchased our first property in the area to add Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Since then, we have protected more than 15,000 acres of redwood forest and supporting landscapes in this region.

Boulder Creek Gallery

Key Pieces of the Redwood Heartland

Our work here is an important part of the Living Landscape Initiative, an effort to protect landscapes and inspire a renewed connection to the land in the heart of coastal California. In 2011, a passionate group of five land conservation organizations in and around Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the League, Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, The Nature Conservancy, Peninsula Open Space Trust and Sempervirens Fund united to implement a vision of giving our communities — now and in the future — an environment that supports a high quality of life. The Initiative supports clean air and water, landscape preservation, habitat protection, biodiversity, natural beauty and access to recreation. The Peters Creek and Boulder Creek projects are flagship properties for the Initiative to protect.

"These old-growth groves are magnificent. This project is perfect for what the League does best — permanently protecting our natural treasures for everyone to enjoy," said Gary Knoblock, Program Officer at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. "These properties have been a top priority of the conservation community for over 20 years, and now success is within reach."

You Can Make a Difference Today

If you love nature, we know you wouldn't want us to pass up the chance to protect old-growth forests. But we need your support today. Your gift now will ensure that these wondrous redwoods in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains will live on, safe from development and unsustainable logging.

The total cost to purchase and protect these properties is $8 million: $7.5 million to purchase the land and conservation agreement and $500,000 for management and restoration. So far, Save the Redwoods League has received a generous grant of $1.75 million through the Living Landscape Initiative Challenge Grant program of Resources Legacy Fund, which is funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Our project partner, Peninsula Open Space Trust, has pledged $1.125 million to the campaign. League members and the property owners also donated funds, leaving a gap of $2.5 million.

We are counting on your gift today to raise the balance and safeguard these remarkable properties!

"The League exists to protect land like this," said Melinda Thomas, Chair of the League Board of Directors, who lives in the New York City area. "I know my fellow members across the country will be thrilled by the chance to protect this stunning old-growth forest."

Please make a generous donation today to the Santa Cruz Mountains Old-Growth Fund to protect these two properties. You can sponsor an acre or more of this breathtaking forest! Despite these challenging times, we are confident that you, and others like you who care about protecting our remaining old-growth forests, will help us succeed.

A Rare Chance to Dedicate a Grove in an Old-Growth Forest

Peters Creek Forest offers extraordinary new opportunities for you and your family to dedicate a grove in honor or memory of someone or something you love, or to mark important occasions such as weddings or anniversaries. Dedicating a redwood grove through a gift to Save the Redwoods League helps ensure that these magical places will survive, while naming a special place in the forest where you and your loved ones may enjoy the trees and the streams and wildlife that surround them.


If you would like to learn more, or you would like to contribute to the Santa Cruz Mountains Old-Growth Fund, please contact Suzanne Moss, Director of Development, at (415) 820-5818 or smoss@SaveTheRedwoods.org.

You Can Open the Gate to a Hidden Sequoia World

Southeast of Three Rivers in the Sierra Nevada is a kingdom of giant sequoias reachable on foot, mountain bike and horseback. Ancient giants here measure as much as 16 feet across, likely wider than your dining room. Save the Redwoods League is working with Sequoia Riverlands Trust and the Bureau of Land Management to buy Craig Ranch and provide easy access to the majestic ancient trees. Learn more about this purchase and how your gift can be matched.

Richardson Grove State Park

HIGHLIGHTS: About a 4-hour drive north of San Francisco on Highway 101, Richardson Grove State Park is the gateway to the North Coast Redwoods.

Park Highlights & Visitor Information »