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Tree Falls Block Scenic Parkway In Redwood National And State Parks


Where's Paul Bunyan when you need him? NPS photo.

Someone Paul Buyanesque in stature sure would be handy at Redwood National and State Parks, where the toppling of four massive trees has blocked access to roughly 8 miles of the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

The trees fell across the parkway last Wednesday just north of the Prairie Creek Visitor Center. Park maintenance crews estimate this section of the parkway will remain closed at least through the end of October as they work to safely remove the trees and assess possible road damage.  The actual fall occurred at mile marker 132.2, about two miles south of  the north closure gate and six miles north of the south closure gate.

All park trails remain open and Elk Prairie Campground, the Prairie Creek Visitor Center, and Davidson Road out to Gold Bluffs Beach and Fern Canyon are still accessible by vehicle. In addition, the section of parkway that is closed to motor vehicles is not closed to pedestrians or bicyclists.

Park crews will work hard to open the road as soon as possible, but meanwhile this is a great opportunity for the public to enjoy some great peaceful bike rides and walks without
the worry of traffic. The only vehicles on the closed section of the parkway will be occasional park vehicles and heavy equipment. October, with its dry, balmy weather and changing autumn colors is the perfect time to gather family and friends and head to the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway for a traffic-free, leisurely ride or stroll.

Visitors wishing to take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy the parkway without traffic are asked to park in the designated parking places located parallel to the road in the south section of the park adjacent to the prairie, not blocking the gate or filling the lots reserved for the visitor center or backcountry users. In the north, parking is available at the junction of Coastal Drive; again, please do not block the gate. Also, for their safety, visitors should avoid the actual location of the trees and heavy equipment operations.

For more information, maps, and suggestions for exploring your parks, stop by the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center located on Highway 101 just south of Orick, California, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park Visitor Center, Hiouchi Visitor Center off of Hwy. 199, or Redwood National and State Parks Visitor Center at 1111 Second Street in Crescent City, California.

All four visitor centers are open seven days a week during this time of year. Information can also be obtained by  calling (707) 465-7335 (M-F) or visiting the RNSP website


Thank you Save-The Redwoods League, 1918, for acquiring Prairie Creek's ancient
redwoods beginning in 1923. 
Shame on You NPS for being so late to the old-growth Protection Party resulting in
a compromised national unpark by Oct. 2nd,1968 and then allowing another decade for
Arcata Redwood Co. to clearcut ancient forests above the narrow "worm of Redwood
Creek"  in  the lower watershed. Today's National Park, now, 43 years old, is merely a
corridor connecting the three existing California Redwood State Parks which were never in
jeopardy,once established of being clearcut by loggers whose only view was, "God
Made trees to be Cut Down"  And, NPS's First Director, Stephen T. Mather was one
of the co-founders of Save The Redwoods League.  At the time, 1968, the cost was a mere
1.6 Billion dollars, tiny today compared to USA's outstanding Cumulative Debt of $15 Trillion.
For the vegetation ecologists among NPT readers, the high canopy gaps created by falling
old-growth trees create sufficient quality sunlight allowing future or established saplings
near the ground an opportunity  for gaining height.  Darwinian Natural selection at work
considering the millions of redwood seedlings
which perish during their first few years for each old-growth clonal sprout/seedling now in
the high canopy.
Scientists at Humboldt State University have been studying the biota unique to the very
high old growth redwood forest canopies.  Funding has been through Bay Area investment
advisor Ken Fisher endowing a Professor's Chair for redwood ecology research at HSU,

What caused the trees to fall?

According to NBC Nightly News last night, a twin-trunked Sequoia fell yesterday in Sequoia National Monument -- administered by the Forest Service.  A ranger in the clip blamed it on saturated soil and wind.  The tree didn't break.  The roots pulled out.

Both coastal redwoods and Sierran giant sequoias grow so massively in
volume that given the inevitable perils of time and storms, they simply lose
their stability.  In all cases though they tend to shatter unless they fall on
a prepared bed of earth as prepared during clearcut logging.  In dense stands,
they often take out lesser trees on the way down.  Their stability
and longevity during time is enhanced by root grafts with neighboring individuals
of the same species.  Given the fire environment of the Sierran mixed conifer
forests, large old fallen giants are partially consumed with each fire event
until all that remains is a linear bed of white ash; it is here in this ashy seedbed
that germinated seedlings have a better opportunity to develop deep root
systems to survive the summer drought.  Thus, at Sequoia NP, the Four Guardsman
provide the Portal to Giant Forest and they appear to be in a row as though planted
(when nature planted them in a linear bed of fire ash).  Both species are adapted
to surviving lesser fire events, but may also be consumed by fire near their bases
which bring them crashing down.  John Muir once wrote that fire was both the
creator and destroyer of the giant sequoia; many large tree bases exhibit fire scars.
Coastal redwoods are clonal and are amazingly resilient through sprouts encircling
an ancient Mother Tree remnant.  The debate as to whether one individual is
either a seedling or sprout is pointless since each individual at some distant past
time originated as a seedling.  When a banana slug munches the new seed leaves of a
very young seedling, that seedling soon becomes a sprout through its miraclous burl
tissue, a mass of buds; it requires light from high canopy gaps to survive.  Most seedlings
will perish in the low light of a shady high canopy and from the "Litter Rain" which
forces them into a flattened position.  Coastal redwoods are very cold, frost intolerant.
Still, They both represent a "Living Link to the Age of Dinosaurs"  !

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