Monday, August 6, 2007

Report from the Redwoods

We spent 3 nights in Humboldt Redwoods State Park in northern California. Here's a short (1 minute) video clip taken of a grove between the road and the south fork of the Eel River. Though a puny camera has a hard time depicting the scale of the mighty vegetables in this grove, it's typical of most of the 52,000 acres of the park, with some humongous trees and many youngsters, under 1,000 years old. Redwoods gain most of their mature height by the age of 100, then beginning increasing their girth.

The Save the Redwoods League was formed in 1918 to preserve this stand of trees as so many were being logged. Many groups purchased groves along this valley, with the state providing $6 million in matching funds.

This environment receives an average of over 65 inches of precipitation per year. Temperatures vary between summer highs of around 90 to winter lows of around 40. Since many of these trees are over 1300 years old, we know that the climate has remained pretty steady for that long. Redwoods don't do well in extreme heat or drought. They tolerate regular flooding, as the Eel very often overflows and submerges the bases and root systems of many of the trees along its bank. But since redwoods suck up 150+ gallons of water each day, a little extra water is not a problem.

The redwoods are the canary in the coal mine for the continuation of our Californian Mediterranean climate.

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