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Santa Cruz Mountains Old-Growth Campaign

Santa Cruz Mountains Old-Growth Campaign

You can protect another rare ancient forest near South San Francisco Bay for the public to enjoy.

Santa Cruz Mountains Old-Growth. Photo by Paolo Vesica

You can help protect and restore this 33-acre ancient redwood forest, creating the opportunity for public access to Peters Creek Old-Growth Forest in the near future.

You Can Protect a New Gateway to Giants

May 7, 2014: You may know about our Santa Cruz Mountains Old-Growth Campaign to protect some of the most beautiful ancient redwood forests still standing less than an hour's drive from the bustle of the South San Francisco Bay Area. One of the places is Peters Creek Old-Growth Forest: 145 acres sheltering jaw-dropping old giants.

Here, Peters Creek ripples through deep canyons and past five-finger ferns and carpets of redwood sorrel. This coveted forest would make a spectacular addition to Portola Redwoods State Park one day, offering you easy access to a hidden wonderland that escaped the mid-1880s logging boom.

Now we've added another magnificent forest to this campaign, and you have the chance to complete the project to restore and open this easy-access gateway to Peters Creek Old-Growth Forest. The Van Kempen Addition to Peters Creek Old-Growth Forest embraces 33 acres of rare, ancient redwoods, tanoak, madrone, California bay, big leaf maple, knobcone pine, huckleberries, ferns and redwood sorrel.

This forest buffers nearby Pescadero Creek, home of state- and federally threatened coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout. State-endangered and federally threatened marbled murrelets nest high in the redwoods. Black-tailed deer, raccoons, gray squirrels, coyotes and mountain lions live in these mountains. The undeveloped gateway provides valuable habitat for the forest community, and it connects protected land that wildlife needs to survive.

Save the Redwoods League must raise $975,000 to complete the project, make critical improvements to the property, and manage it for the long term or until a permanent steward can be identified and public access can be offered.

Your gifts to the Santa Cruz Mountains Old-Growth Fund will help protect magnificent forests like this one, assist in stream stabilization to aid fish passage and survival, and help develop the public access plan for this property.

"Our Santa Cruz Mountains Old-Growth campaign will safeguard iconic old-growth forests for all time and make it possible for future generations to experience and enjoy California and the Bay Area's truly unique natural wonders,” said Sam Hodder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Save the Redwoods League.

Please join generations of League members like you whose support has helped win protection for more than 800 acres of neighboring Portola Redwoods State Park for everyone to enjoy. Donate today.

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.

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 complete the purchase of 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.

"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."

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 Van Kempen Addition, 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 wondrous redwoods like those in Peters Creek Old-Growth Forest in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains will live on, safe from development and unsustainable logging.

The total cost to protect and restore the Van Kempen Addition, Peters Creek and Boulder Creek properties is $9 million: $8.2 million to purchase the land and Boulder Creek conservation agreement and $825,000 for management and restoration.

So far, gifts include 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 $3.5 million. We must close this gap so we are ready to act in fast-moving real estate transactions to protect the region's other special places. Please donate today. Thank you for your generous support.

"The League exists to protect land like this," said Melinda Thomas, Chair of the League Board of Directors. "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 this magical place. 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 Protect a New Gateway to Giants

You may know about our Santa Cruz Mountains Old-Growth Campaign to protect some of the most beautiful ancient redwood forests still standing less than an hour's drive from the bustle of the South San Francisco Bay Area. Now we've added another magnificent forest to this campaign, and you have the chance to complete the project to restore and open this easy-access gateway to Peters Creek Old-Growth Forest. Learn more about this addition and how you can help.

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 »