The world’s largest privately-owned giant sequoia tree grove was recently purchased by a conservation group for over $15 million. It is the largest known privately owned giant sequoia grove. The grove is part of an ancient forest. These are endangered trees that can live for 3,000 years or longer. Some of them can grow to be almost as tall as the Statue of Liberty. The grove has sequoia trees that are seedlings as well as Methuselah trees and more. The group that purchased the sequoia grove believes this is the most consequential project involving giant sequoias in our lifetime.
The grove that was purchased is known as Alder Creek. It covers an area spanning over 500 acres. That may seem modest in many ways, but it is a huge deal for giant sequoias. This is an iconic tree that at one time was common to see throughout the Northern Hemisphere. They now only exist in a mere 73 isolated groves. All of them are currently located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains on its western slopes. There are more than 480 sequoias located in this area of California. Each has a trunk that spans at least 6 feet in diameter. It also contains hundreds of smaller sequoias that are different ages.
Sam Hodder is president and CEO of Save the Redwoods League (SRL). According to Hodder, one of the reasons this particular grove has so much importance is because of the age range of the trees there. SRL has been working to obtain Alder Creek for over two decades. It is common for a sequoia grove to have just a single age class. Having giant sequoias fall in all age ranges is an indication of the health of the trees in this grove. It is also rare. This is a significant sign there is a healthy ecosystem where the trees are located.
A purchase agreement was signed between SRL and The Rouch family. The family has been the owners of the Alder Creek grove since the 1940s. It was quite an accomplishment that involved over two decades of negotiations. SRL was able to raise the necessary $15 million with a public fundraising drive conducted on its website. The donations necessary to reach the fundraising goal were received up to the deadline. SRL received donations on its website from more than 8,000 donors. They came from all 50 states as well as from around the world.
U.S. Forest Service
SRL would eventually like to transfer the ownership of the Alder Creek grove to the U.S Forest Services. This would make it possible for these sequoias to be part of the federally protected wilderness that surrounds them. That will be in the future as SRL intends to hold onto the property for the next 10 years. The reason for this is the slow process involving public-acquisition. During this time, SRL intends to study the grove and develop a plan for its good stewardship. This will ensure the sequoias in the Alder Creek grove are healthy and ready for the public.
One of the main benefits of the purchase by SRL is that Alder Creek grove will now never be sold to a developer. The group wants to have the grove become a type of living laboratory. It will serve as a way to help people learn what can be done to help the ancient sequoia trees survive.
SRL believes this will provide a special opportunity to understand all of the threats and exposures of the sequoias. They will be able to perform all of the forest management that is necessary. The sequoias at Alder Creek grove will be handled with science-driven forest stewardship. It will be done in a way that provides a balance for the ancient sequoia trees. They will prepare the grove to better handle the hotter, drier fires that are part of their California environment.