RFFI’s Good News This Fall
An Important Request

by Mark Welther, President and CEO, RFFI Inc.

Mark Welther, RFFI President & CEO

None of us has ever experienced a time quite like this. In a recent visit to the Usal Forest, I was thrilled to see redwoods growing and a landscape looking healthier than ever, a forest thriving under 13 years of RFFI management. Yet, at the same time, RFFI is approaching six months under the cloud of the coronavirus, with our office closed, our staff working remotely, and all four of our in-person fundraising events cancelled this year.

Although RFFI’s good work continues full bore, we need your continued support now more than ever. During this COVID era, we count on you and other residents of the Redwood Region for the investments so essential to our nonprofit programs.

In this newsletter, Karen Youngblood and Linwood Gill report about RFFI’s exciting and innovative riparian restoration projects and sustainable timber harvests, all of which provide local community jobs. And, in May, RFFI received federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, providing short-term funding that enabled us to operate fully-staffed and without interruption into the summer. This is the two-month cushion we needed when our critical fundraising efforts were sidetracked.

Because Mendocino County classifies forestry as an essential activity, RFFI staff have maintained all of our restoration, sustainable timber harvests, biological monitoring and biochar experiments at full capacity. If you saw RFFI’s June Virtual Annual Meeting, I’m sure you were inspired by Karen’s exciting video of our stream restoration projects and Linwood’s innovative forestry tour (recorded and available at: https://www.rffi.org/annual-meeting-2020/).

Usal Redwood Forest, a 50,000 acre working community forest.  Credit  Jeff Becker

RFFI is closing in on the acquisition of the Reist Ranch, but we need your help. This 95-acre gem is completely contained within the Usal Forest, and has been in the same family ownership for 100 years. It has an old growth redwood and Douglas fir grove, a beautiful meadow and an historic ranch house. We also have a willing seller and need your help to raise the funds to acquire and develop the ranch. Future development ideas include an academic research station, educational center, retreat facility or field station.

All RFFI news isn’t good. PPP short-term funds are running out soon and the economic downturn has hit charitable giving hard. Donations over the next six months will be critical for RFFI to continue the essential restoration, educational, recreational and future acquisition programs that are so important to you and our forest-based communities. We can’t rely on income from timber and carbon sales, all of which is restricted to debt payments and unavailable for programs.

That’s why I am asking for your support now. We need to raise $200,000 from individual donations before the end of the year.

Please donate to RFFI today – you can contribute online. Or, if you would prefer to give stock, other property or a legacy gift, you can also give me a call at 510 459-1131. And please also encourage your friends and family to join in!

Please stay safe. Then, once the shelter-in-place lifts, let’s get out into the woods again for Usal tours and events!

Reist Ranch forest. RFFI is raising funds to purchase this redwood and Douglas fir forest. More info.


Only 5% of the original old growth redwoods still remain, almost all of them preserved in reserves like Redwood State & National Parks. But what does the future hold for the more than 1 million acres of previously logged redwood forests that are currently in private hands? Some can also be converted into reserves, but most need to stay in production in order to provide income, wood products and jobs for local communities that depend on the forests. Can these working 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?
RFFI is a bold venture launched in 1997 by local leaders determined to answer these questions. Now, 23 years later, RFFI has developed a unique, successful and emerging model. We are managing and restoring the maturing Usal Redwood Forest, harvesting on a sustainable basis, sequestering carbon to address climate change, creating wood products and jobs, and building community wealth here in the Redwood Region.

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.