Redwood Forest Foundation
by Mark Welther
RFFI has been both
enlightening. In my
first month, I met
dozens of RFFI
President and Chief Executive Officer
Redwood Forest Foundation
First, the diversity
of the people: loggers, foresters,
environmentalists, bankers, lawyers, marijuana
growers, sheriff's deputies, public officials,
biologists and business owners. These same
groups were locked in combat in the early '90s.
Equally astonishing is that today this diverse
group holds a shared vision of our redwood
forests. Looking 100 years ahead, most see
mature forests of uneven-aged mixed conifers
and salmon-filled streams flowing to the ocean
as they did before industrial logging. They
envision forest stands that support a complex
ecosystem of flora and fauna, while providing
places for people to learn, camp, fish and live
off the land. They also see the forest providing a
steady flow of wood products and jobs in their
This vision evolved as a group of
local leaders worked together to move beyond
the 'timber wars' to a commitment to sustainable
forest management. One result was RFFI,
founded in 1997, followed by the purchase of
Usal Redwood Forest
in 2007. I refer to this as Phase 1.
In 2011, Phase 2 came with the sale of a
conservation easement on Usal Forest.
California's largest private working redwood
forest easement prohibits subdivision and
development, guarantees a 2.9% harvest limit,
requires certification by the Forest Stewardship
Council (FSC), and prescribes a transition to
uneven-aged management over the next 60
Now comes Phase 3, growing the forest we
envision. While there is broad agreement on the
vision, there is, inherently, much disagreement
about how to achieve it.
This year, you can expect RFFI to:
- Develop a 5-year strategic plan with your
- Work with partners to develop a sustainable
Stewardship Plan as part of FSC certification;
- Fulfill our current financial obligations to
the Bank of America, who made the Usal
purchase possible, from income generated by
5 currently-approved timber harvest plans
that employ both variable retention and
selection harvesting methods;
- Protect 20 Usal "activity sites" for the
threatened Northern Spotted Owl (NSO)
by developing an NSO Recovery Plan in
cooperation with the US Fish and Wildlife
- Experiment with the use of manual
to remove fast-growing
tanoak that dominates about 40% of
the Usal Forest, choking out the redwoods.
RFFI has placed a 3-year moratorium on
- Kick off our
biochar demonstration project
to develop a marketable excessbiomass
- Actively pursue registration to sell carbon
- Work with the National Marine Fisheries
Service on restoration plans for coho and
chinook salmon and steelhead in Usal Creek
and the South Fork of the Eel River; and
- Continue to involve the community in RFFI
planning and programs.
RFFI hired me to help the organization become
stronger and more sustainable. I am doing this
through planning, outreach, fundraising and
Here's how you can help:
- Get involved, including financially. RFFI is a
small organization with a big job.
- Be patient. Our young forest requires tough
decisions and will take generations to
- Hold onto your vision. That's what will unite
and inspire us to make the vision a reality.
October is RFFI Membership Month!
Join, Renew or Give a Gift Membership Today
Redwoods grow in
only one place in the world, the northern
California coast, and 95% of the ancient
trees are already gone.
membership will help to ensure the future
growth of this magnificent species. RFFI
offers a range of membership levels from
$35 (individual) and $50 (family) on up.
Please contribute from the heart to sustain
the heart of the forest.
Join RFFI today!