Drones Monitor the Health of the Redwoods

Llafranc, Spain. May 29, 2016. Parrot Bebop 2 Drone flying over the mountain in front of a coast city in costa brava, Spain

In order to protect the redwoods from future climate change, scientists must understand many things, including how the giant trees use and respond to water and sunlight.  This often requires laboriously surveying hundreds of acres of forest and surrounding land.

In a new study, Dr. Todd Dawson (a professor of integrative biology and environmental science, policy and management at UC Berkeley) is using drones to quickly construct detailed resource maps from the air.

By quickly and inexpensively gathering data, the drones free up scientists to focus on more complex research tasks.

The pilot project is partially sponsored by Parrot, a manufacturer of drones for both personal and commercial use.


‘Albino’ Redwoods may Act as Natural Filters for Toxins

albino-redwoodWhile hiking in the redwoods, you may sometimes see a small white, or albino, redwood tree. These rare trees are unable to generate chlorophyl, and so they tap into the root systems of surrounding trees in order to survive.

Researchers now theorize that albino redwoods may actually play a useful role in the forest ecosystem.  Zane Moore, a doctoral student at UC Davis, has found that the white trees contain unusually high concentrations of toxic metals such as nickel, copper and cadmium.  He believes that the trees may be acting as filters to remove toxins from the soil, just as the liver and kidneys filter toxins from the human body.

Moore presented his research at the Coast Redwood Science Symposium in Eureka, CA.


Avenue of the Giants featured on American Pickers

AmericanPickersA few months ago, the crew of the popular History Channel TV program America Pickers filmed an episode in Humboldt county.

In the episode, hosts Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz are seen driving along the Avenue of the Giants.

Among the treasures picked by the guys is a vintage Trees of Mystery sign.  (The Trees of Mystery is about two hours North of the Avenue, on the coast highway.)

For more information, visit the Lost Coast Outpost website.

Some Facts About the Redwoods

redwoodsIn honor of California’s Arbor Day, we’d like to share some fun facts about the Coast Redwoods, courtesy of our friends at the Save the Redwoods League:

  • The Coast Redwoods grow only in a small coastal range from Southern Oregon, to the Big Sur coastline in Northern California.
  • The tallest redwood, Hyperion, is 379 feet tall – the height of a 37 story building!  It is estimated to be 700 to 800 years old.
  • The widest redwood is 27 feet across at its base – equivalent to two VW bugs parked bumper-to-bumper.
  • The oldest Coast Redwoods are over 2,000 years old.  Some of the redwoods alive today sprouted in the days of the Roman Empire.

Rand McNally atlas features Avenue of the Giants on cover

rand-mcnallyThe 2016 Rand McNally Best of the Road Atlas & Guide features a full-page photo of the Avenue of the Giants on the front cover.

Rand McNally spokesperson Rebecca Boykin said, “Our designers sift through hundreds, if not thousands of photos looking for just the right image to capture the magic of various destinations across the U.S. and Canada.”

The 11×14 spiral bound guide includes maps, suggested driving itineraries, mileage and driving charts, and hundreds of photos.

The guide is available from major booksellers, including Amazon.com:

Rand McNally 2016 Best of the Road Atlas & Guide NEW!

Are the California Fires a Danger to the Redwoods?

forestfireWe’ve heard this question many times in the past few months, as forest fires sweep across drought-stricken California.

The short answer is no, the redwoods are not in danger.

Remember that the oldest redwoods are thousands of years old.  They are survivors, and they have lived through many fires.  The redwoods have several natural defenses:

  • The acid soil and deep shade in a redwood forest limit the undergrowth, which means there is little fuel for forest fires.
  • The redwoods have thick, fibrous bark, which does not catch flame easily, and which protects the tree from heat and fire damage.
  • The branches of the redwood trees begin far from the ground, so flames from ground fires can’t reach them.

It’s likely that the redwoods will survive the current California fire season, and thousands more to come!


Did You Know?

The Redwood is the official California State Tree.  It was designated by the state legislature in 1937.

In 1953 the law was amended and clarified to include both the Sequoia sempervirens (the redwoods found along the Avenue) and the Sequoia gigantea.

North Coast Man Claims Discovery of World’s Fattest Redwood

Redwood records are based on three things:  the height of the tree, the total volume of the tree, or the girth of the trunk.

John Montague, a North Coast man, claims to have found the redwood with the largest girth, measuring 29.2 feet at breast height.  The location of the tree has not been divulged, but the measurements have been confirmed by redwood expert Zane Moore.   The current official record-holder has a diameter of 27.4 feet.

The newly-discovered tree is 254 feet tall, which is an average height for a full-grown redwood.  It is estimated to be 2400-2500 years old.

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