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Redwood Forest Foundation

Fall 2013 Newsletter

President's Report
by Mark Welther

Mark Welther
Mark Welther
President and Chief Executive Officer
Redwood Forest Foundation

RFFI has been both exhilarating and enlightening. In my first month, I met dozens of RFFI supporters; two impressions astonished me.

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 community.

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 years.

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 input;
  • 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 Service;
  • Experiment with the use of manual vegetation management 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 herbicide use;
  • Kick off our biochar demonstration project to develop a marketable excessbiomass product;
  • Actively pursue registration to sell carbon credits;
  • 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 board recruitment.

Here's how you can help:

  1. Get involved, including financially. RFFI is a small organization with a big job.

  2. Be patient. Our young forest requires tough decisions and will take generations to mature.

  3. 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

Please join RFFI! Redwoods grow in only one place in the world, the northern California coast, and 95% of the ancient trees are already gone.

Your RFFI 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!

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