From The Forest

by Linwood Gill, Chief Forester

Linwood Gill, RPF, USAL
Chief Forester

Three years ago, I was asked by the Redwood Forest Foundation to take on the job of Chief Forester for the Usal Redwood Forest Company (URFC). I was intrigued by the opportunity to take skills and knowledge developed over decades of sustainable management of private family owned forest and apply them to the challenge of restoring cutover forestlands to healthy, mature redwood forest.

Today, we are working on two grant applications that could allow us to do just that, through cutting edge restoration and research.

The first is a Forest Health Grant that would assist us in creating nearly 14 miles of shaded fuel break along a major State Highway and along a ridge that divides the drier eastern portion of the property from the moister western third. This fuel break is designed to develop a canopy of larger, older trees while reducing the amount shrubs and smaller trees in the understory. This could prove to be a major line of defense against catastrophic wildfire.

The second is a study that compares different methods of fuel reduction and forest thinning in the Standley Creek watershed. Not only will this work develop healthier, more fire resilient forests, but the research should also reveal how these types of projects positively impact stream flow, thereby benefiting endangered Coho salmon during the driest part of the summer. Healthy forest, healthy creeks, healthy fish!

By industry standards, our staff would be considered a skeleton crew to manage URFC’s 50,000 acres. Even so, over the past three years we have significantly reduced the amount of sediment entering creeks, improved fish habitat, planted over 100,000 redwood seedlings, thinned young, dense redwood forest, and worked on updating our long-term management and restoration plan. Grant funding, and private donations, have given us the ability to accomplish these goals while we continue to grow an older, more mature forest for carbon sequestration and provide jobs for the local economy.

RFFI forestry staff in Usal Redwood Forest assessing road damage from winter rains. Credits: Redwood Forest Foundation.

Forestry staff carry redwood seedlings for planting in a remote restored watershed from which all roads have been removed.