January 15, 2011

Redwoods at Muir Woods (part 2 of 2)

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

As you may have guessed, Muir Woods was named in honor of John Muir; famous for his exploration and description of the Sierras, and his tireless efforts towards the establishment of our National Park System.

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

One hundred fifty million years ago ancestors of redwood and sequoia trees grew throughout the United States.   Today, the Sequoia sempervirens can be found only in a narrow, cool coastal belt from Monterey to Oregon.

Before the logging industry came to California, there were an estimated 2 million acres of old growth forest containing redwoods growing in a narrow strip along the coast.

By the early 20th century, most of these forests had been cut down.
Just north of the San Francisco Bay, one valley named Redwood Canyon remained uncut, mainly due to its relative inaccessibility.

This was noticed by U.S. Congressman William Kent.   He and his wife, Elizabeth Thacher Kent, purchased 611 acres of land from the Tamalpais Land and Water Company for $45,000 with the goal of protecting the redwoods and the mountain above them.

In 1907, a water company in nearby Sausalito planned to dam Redwood Creek, thereby flooding the valley.   When Kent objected to the plan, the water company took him to court to attempt to force the project to move ahead.   Kent sidestepped the water company's plot by donating 295 acres of the redwood forest to the Federal Government, thus bypassing the local courts.

On January 9, 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt declared the land a national monument, the first to be created from land donated by a private individual.   The original suggested name of the Monument was the Kent monument but Kent insisted the Monument be named after naturalist John Muir, whose environmental campaigns helped to establish the national park system.     [source:   Wikipedia]

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

The star attraction of the Muir Woods is the Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens).   These relatives of the Giant Sequoia are known for their height.   While redwoods can grow to nearly 380 feet, the tallest tree in the Muir Woods is 258 feet.   Strangely, though, the trees come from a seed no bigger than that of a tomato's.   The average age of the redwoods in the Monument are between 500 and 800 years old with the oldest being at least 1,200 years old.     [source:   Wikipedia]

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John @ Beans and I on the Loose said...

I love the Redwoods. We had three in the backyard of our previous home and it was then I learned how messy they are. So they have their place in the wild, not in my back yard. So guess what? Are new home has an even larger one in the back. But it is further away from the house and the deer love to bed down beneath it and so I am okay with once again having a redwood in my backyard.

photowannabe said...

We have 4 redwoods as a border between our neighbor and us. Not wild about them but they were pretty well established when we moved here 3 years ago.
I sure do love them in the forest though. I've said it a million times to you how much I love them. They just feed something deep inside of me.
Have a great weekend Don. We're dogsitting our Granddogger this weekend so I will be occupied in territory I don't do too easily.

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