Save the Redwoods League buys 83 acres of forest near Mendocino

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An unusual North Coast forest that includes both naturally stunted trees and giant redwoods has been purchased by Save the Redwoods League, adding 83 acres to some 200,000 acres the organization has conserved statewide since its inception 97 years ago.

The land, less than a mile from the town of Mendocino and surrounded on three sides by a state park, was purchased last week from a private party for $1.4 million, said Sam Hodder, president of the San Francisco-based conservation group. The seller wanted to remain anonymous, League officials said.

More than 4,600 donors contributed to the purchase, Hodder said.

“The forest’s supporters love its strange, wonderful and rare pygmy forest and ancient redwood giants, and its potential for trails so close to Mendocino,” Hodder said.

Pygmy forests — composed of trees and brush stunted by poor soils — are scattered along the Mendocino Coast. On the newly purchased land, miniature hemlock trees, manzanita, rhododendron, bishop pines and Douglas firs are perched on a plateau that once was an ancient dune. Below, and some 50 feet away, are groves of towering redwood trees.

The Save the Redwoods League has had its eye on the property since the early 1990s, Hodder said. The organization sprang into fundraising mode to purchase the land when it was listed for sale in October.

The League has protected about 30,000 acres altogether in Sonoma and Mendocino counties.

The new acreage has been dubbed the Big River-Mendocino Old-Growth Redwoods. It features both old-growth and second-growth redwoods that provide habitat for northern spotted owls, marbled murrelets and other wildlife, League officials said.

The property was first logged in the late 1800s and most recently in 1996, Hodder said.

Signs of a planned logging operation — trees tagged for removal — are scattered throughout the forest, he said.

With its purchase, logging will be discontinued. Instead, the property will be rehabilitated to improve wildlife habitat and provide a refuge for people seeking to connect with natural beauty, Hodder said.

League officials expect that it eventually will be added to the state parks system.

You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or glenda.anderson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @MendoReporter.

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