Guardians Of The Forest

The Redwood Forest Council (RFC) is our group of community advisors who contribute their time, expertise & passion for the betterment of the Redwood Region. Over time, the RFC has grown into its role as a direct community voice to the Foundation. In this capacity, it has put forward policies and driven projects delivering real results in the community & the forest.
The RFC meets each month to discuss issues of forestry, science, education, and community. RFC members include:
Chris Blencowe,  Warren DeSmidt,  Sharon Edell,   Lillian Frazier, Paul Harper,  Art Harwood,  Jeff Hedin,  Bill Heil,
Madelin Holtkamp,  Erin Kelly,  Don Kemp,  Jon Krabbenschmidt, Jim Larson,  Gabriella Levine,  Darcie Mahoney,  Wesley Chesbro,
Louisa Morris,  Linda Perkins,  Kim Rodrigues,  Nonae Sears, Stephen Smith,  Roger Sternberg,  David Wright,  Amy Wynn, Steve Zuieback

Chinquapin Springs Acorn Grove

Louis Hoaglin Sr., of the Wylaki Tribe, played a pivotal role in kicking off the Chinquapin Springs Acorn Grove project.

RFFI and local tribal representatives worked together for more than three years – planning and engaging the community – to establish the Chinquapin Springs Acorn Grove in the Usal Forest.

In July 2010, tribal peoples from all over California were invited by RFFI and the Wailaki Tribe Corporation to share in a tour of cultural restoration and native plant gathering. Visitors came from all over California to Usal Redwood Forest to learn about this project and to offer advice.

RFFI conducted studies on the areas, including archaeological studies by the State Archaeologist. Usal had been used historically by local native peoples for these same purposes. The State archaeologist identified a location in which no existing Native American artifacts will be disturbed.

The grove was dedicated in late summer 2012. The Cahto Tribe is providing coordination for tribal use of the grove. Native peoples from the Wailaki, Round Valley, and Cahto tribes are involved at this time. The Grove has opened up myriad possibilities. The leaders of this project see many benefits, among them:

    • Teach others how to cook with acorns,
    • Include other California Tribes,
    • Teach youth traditional tribal ways,
    • Influence how the Usal Redwood Forest is managed,
    • Ceremonial use of the land,
    • Focus on all cultural uses such as reed and medicinal plant gather in addition to acorn gathering.

Most significantly they see the opportunity for the forest to act as a catalyst to bring tribal people together to teach cross-cultural respect for the land and educate youth in traditional tribal ways. For more information

Volunteer Program

Volunteers have always been indispensable to RFFI’s vision of community forestry, and remain so today. We have deep volunteer roots: RFFI was founded in 1997 by passionate local volunteer leaders, and for much of our history we operated as a volunteer-run organization.

While volunteers played a critical informal role in RFFI’s founding, we began a transition in the early 2010s to a staff-run organization. The presence of staff and the ongoing need for volunteer assistance created the opportunity for a more formal volunteer program. Over the years, the generous support of the Giles W. and Elise G. Mead Foundation has allowed RFFI to dramatically expand and formalize our volunteer program.

Specifically, a 2015 Mead Foundation grant allowed RFFI to hire our first paid Volunteer Coordinator to develop and organize our volunteer program, as well as support and appreciate our volunteers. This position has now expanded into a permanent Program Director, a staff member who manages the volunteer program while supporting the organization in numerous other ways. With this position, the Mead Family’s support has permanently bolstered RFFI’s organizational capacity, and continues to allow us to tackle a more diverse and ambitious array of projects than ever before.

Today, RFFI’s commitment to volunteers is as strong as ever, and we are lucky to have a diverse and talented volunteer corp who dedicate their time and expertise across several programs. Most significantly, the Program Director has organized and engaged RFFI’s community advisory group, the Redwood Forest Council, who now regularly bring their expertise and ideas to the RFFI Board of Directors’ decisions, and meet regularly to take on projects of their own.  

Other volunteer causes include: citizen science; forest vegetation management; photography/videography; graphic design; community outreach; recreation; and donor support.

Our volunteer projects include:

Fort Bragg High School’s Anchor Academy | Usal Oral History Project

Usal Hopper Mountain Biking Race

SOD BioBlitz  |  SOD Stream Trapping  | Invasive Species Mapping and Removal

Jackie Dixon, Mitzi Rider, and Joaquin Quintana remove broom from a landing at one of RFFI’s Invasive Species Mapping and Removal Days

Outstanding Volunteers:

RFFI annually recognizes its Outstanding Volunteers. The Outstanding Volunteer Award honors long-term, significant contributions and service to RFFI’s mission and work.

Volunteer Today

Guidance For Our Future

Krenov School of Fine Woodworking

Linwood showcases a dense stand to Krenov students

Since 2017, each class of Krenov students have had the opportunity to tour the Usal Forest and discuss silviculture & hardwood management. After the tour, RFFI delivers hardwood logs from Usal to the Krenov School for milling and drying. After several years, this wood will be ready for transformation at the hands of these craftsmen. You’ve heard of “farm to table,” but this is “forest to table.”

Fort Bragg High School’s Anchor Academy

Proud students behind a pile of removed invasive plants

Despite all the stereotypes of technology-obsessed teenagers, these students from FBHS love to get their hands dirty! Under RFFI’s supervision, dozens of students have removed invasive species and planted native seedlings at Otis Johnson Park in Fort Bragg and Selkie Cove in Albion. These events are focused on creating thriving ecosystems and forests for generations to come.

More Information Here: Otis Johnson Park Event

Restoration Education Partnership – Humboldt Redwoods Interpretive Association

Students walk along the Peter Douglas Trail near Usal

For many students living inland of the Lost Coast, there are few opportunities for hands-on, coastal education. RFFI supports the programs of the Humboldt Redwoods Interpretive Association by facilitating access along our internal road network to get students to Usal Beach. RFFI also provides students with educational presentations from restoration and forestry professionals. This is a golden opportunity to inspire the next generation of forest workers and environmentalists.Your Content Goes Here

Oral History Video Series

With generous funding from the Community Foundation of Mendocino County’s Charles F. Flynn and Walker B. Tilley Fund for Sustainable Forestry Tilley Grant, RFFI is embarking on a process to record the past and present history of the Usal Forest. This project is centered around long-form oral history interviews telling the rich, sometimes controversial stories of our founders. Read About Our Projects Here

Camera rolling on Usal Beach’s majestic Roosevelt Elk


Opportunities for Recreation

McCoy Creek Trail

This monumental project will eventually provide the first sustained, public access to the Usal Forest in over a century. Spearheaded by the RFC, we recently completed the planning & design phase led by RFC member Louisa Morris. The blueprints are in place, and we are currently identifying funding opportunities.

Usal Hopper Mountain Biking Race

RFFI has partnered with the Grasshopper Adventure Series to host an annual mountain biking race through the Usal Redwood Forest. The race features three loops between 32 and 60 miles long with 4,100 to 8,500 feet of elevation change. Not for the faint of heart!


The Strength of Collaboration

Sudden Oak Death BioBlitz

RFFI partners with the UC Berkeley Forest Pathology Laboratory to host an annual bioblitz, empowering citizen scientists to document the spread of sudden-oak death on Usal. So far, test results have come back negative. However, scientists warn that the arrival of SOD is a matter of “when,” not “if.” With this in mind, it is important for us to continue monitoring the forest’s health.

Bay laurels are among the most virulent vectors of SOD. The bay laurel leaves are showing signs of leaf blight, but fortunately test results came back negative for SOD

Sudden Oak Death Stream Trapping

Further research has been conducted by UC Davis researchers & Carla Thomas. The UC Davis Forest Pathology team utilizes a different method for monitoring the spread of SOD. Their method of “stream trapping” consists of placing a mesh bag with healthy leaves of a pathogen-receptive species into a stream or watercourse. After about a week, researchers check the leaves to see if they have become infected. If so, we know that the pathogen is present somewhere in watershed above the location of the stream trap.

The image of South Fork Usal Creek was taken just above one of the stream trapping locations.

Invasive Species Mapping

Citizen scientists have helped RFFI chart the spread of invasive species, including broom, across the landscape. Using clipboards and highlighters, they have gathered valuable data across many miles of our road network.

Forest Conservation Specialist Karen Youngblood prepares citizen scientists to map the spread of invasive species.

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