MEDIA RELEASE: For Immediate Release CONTACT: Mark Welther CONTACT INFO: Phone 510 459-1131;

Fort Bragg, CA, June 16, 2020 — One of the most exciting and innovative conservation projects in the country is developing right here on Redwood Avenue in Fort Bragg. This remarkable project was recently featured with a six-minute segment in the HBO climate change documentary, “Ice on Fire,” a film produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio.

Did you know that only 5 percent of the original old-growth redwoods still remain, almost all of them preserved in Redwood State & National Parks and other reserves? But what does the future hold for the more than one million acres of previously industrially logged redwood forests that are currently in private hands?

Some can also be converted into reserves, but most need to stay in production to provide income, wood products and jobs for local communities like Fort Bragg. Can these forests also be managed for conservation using sustainable harvesting methods that cut less than growth and allow the forest to return to health and resilience over time? Can fragmented habitat be reconnected. And can consistent ownership be found that will economically support the communities that depend upon the forests so they can thrive again?

The nonprofit Redwood Forest Foundation, Inc. is an experiment founded in 1997 by local leaders determined to answer these questions. Now, 23 years later, RFFI has developed a unique, successful and developing model.

In 2007, a local governing Board purchased the massive 50,000-acre (78 sq mi) Usal Forest, north of Rockport, with an innovative combination of private and public funding. They then hired their own local staff of foresters and restoration specialists, sold a conservation easement, and registered the largest forest carbon offset project in the U.S. Now, RFFI is managing and restoring the maturing Usal Forest, harvesting on a sustainable basis, sequestering carbon to address climate change, creating wood products and jobs, and building community wealth here on the Mendocino Coast.

Most importantly, RFFI is committed to long-term ownership and bringing future profits from the forest back to the community in the form of jobs, grants and investments.

Come learn more about RFFI from the comfort of your home. Our annual meeting, RFFI’s showcase event, is usually a BBQ in the redwoods. This year, however, because of COVID-19, the event will switch formats to a virtual event on Wednesday, June 24 from 2 to 3:30 p.m.

The agenda includes:

  • A keynote address by documentary filmmaker Leila Conners, director of the HBO climate change documentary “Ice on Fire (IOF),” followed by Q & A
  • Aerial footage of the Usal Forest and RFFI’s forestry and restoration projects
  • Video of RFFI’s Plant a Redwood Program and the Annual Usal Hopper Mountain Bike Race (last October’s drew 200 riders)
  • An overview of RFFI’s future plans, including the acquisition of the 95-acre Reist Ranch

As residents of the Redwood Region, you are part of the community that RFFI’s working forest supports, and we hope you will take an interest in the future of RFFI. We count on you for guidance and support for all of our nonprofit programs, especially in these challenging times. RFFI’s future plans include habitat restoration, educational and recreational programs, trail building and future land acquisitions.
RFFI is asking for advanced registration at Please join us and bring your friends. Then, once the shelter-in-place lifts, look for upcoming Usal tours and hikes, and sign up for the Third Annual Usal Hopper Mountain Biking event on October 17.