A Renewed Commitment to A Bold Experiment

by Kathleen Moxon, Redwood Forest Foundation, Chair

Kathleen Moxon
Redwood Forest Foundation Chairperson

Annually, RFFI holds a retreat when the Board of Directors, staff and the Redwood Forest Council, our community advisory committee, come together to review past progress and chart our way into the future. This year we started the event with our origin story as a way to reground RFFI in that long-term vision of the organization’s original founders. Born out of community conflict around the time of Redwood Summer when the conflict between the timber industry and the environmental movement was at its peak, a courageous group of Northern California residents came together believing that there was a different solution to timberland management—community ownership. By resting management decisions in the hands of a diverse set of community representatives, including loggers, environmentalists, business people, educators, elected officials, scientists, the forestlands could be managed with a longer planning horizon and the benefits could accrue to the community. It was a bold experiment.

Since the late 1990’s when RFFI was conceived and incorporated, much has happened. 50,000 acres of cutover timberland was purchased, it became the largest forest carbon offset sequestration project in California, there have been miles of road removed and many stream restoration projects—and yes, there has been logging. It would seem like a success story, but we are still early in the experiment. There is a land debt to pay off, recreational access challenges to solve, education partnerships to develop, Native American interests to attend to, and forestry challenges to deal with.

The retreat renewed my commitment to the original vision—a diverse group of local stakeholders pioneering a new ownership model for managing and restoring forestland that provides jobs, access for recreation, hunting and foraging, educational opportunities, and, in the long term, profits returned to the communities who depend on the surrounding forests for their economic and social well- being. We are in it for the long haul and hope you are with us.

RFFI Board, RFC and staff pictured on a Usal Forest Tour. Many were present at the 2020 retreat and play a significant role in “the bold experiment.” Photo by: Mitzi Rider