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Redwood Forest Foundation at
Coast Redwood Science Symposium
September, 2016

beautiful forest, photo by Jeff Becker
Redwood forest, photo by Jeff Becker

The iconic coast redwood, the unique forest ecosystem, both within the tree itself, and the forest around it, together with its limited range and strong economic value, captures widespread interest.

In September, 2016, redwood scientists and forest managers from as far away as New Zealand participated in the fourth Coast Redwood Science Symposium in Eureka, CA. The three-day event revealed the tremendous progress being made in the field of redwood science and management that impacts the nation's forested landscapes. The Redwood Forest Foundation was well-represented. Three Redwood Forest Foundation representatives, Mark Welther, President and CEO, Steve Smith, Chief Forester for RFFI's Usal Redwood Forest Company (URFC), and Tom Tuchmann, President of US Forest Capital, presented at the symposium. Andrea Horvath, URFC Forest Conservation Specialist, also attended.

Mark Welther at Coast Redwood Science Symposium, photo by Heidi Knott Gundling
Mark Welther at Coast Redwood Science Symposium, photo by Heidi Knott Gundling

Mark Welther, President & CEO of Redwood Forest Foundation, presented
"A 50,000 Acre Experiment in Working Community Forestry — The Usal Redwood Forest Approaches Year Ten"   (7.1 MB pdf printer friendly pdf format)
at the Coast Redwood Science Symposium. He discussed lessons learned about the working community forestry model since 2007 and their application to other private forests. CEO Welther described RFFI's journey to achieve its goal - to create a model of "working community forests" by purchasing and sustainably managing the once great redwood forests surrounding the communities of the redwood region. This model is designed for the social, environmental and economic benefit of regional residents in perpetuity by returning excess revenue directly back to the communities served. RFFI's model is based on the Three E's - Ecology, Economy and Equity. In 2007, RFFI purchased its first forest, the 49,767 acre Usal Redwood Forest, located on northwestern Mendocino County's Lost Coast.

Steve Smith at Coast Redwood Science Symposium, photo by Heidi Knott Gundling
Steve Smith at Coast Redwood Science Symposium, photo by Heidi Knott Gundling

Stephen Smith, RFFI's Chief Forester, co-presented "A 50,000 Acre Experiment in Working Community Forestry — The Usal Redwood Forest Approaches Year Ten"  (7.1 MB pdf printer friendly pdf format).  Steve, who manages RFFI's 50,000-acre forest, joined President and CEO, Mark Welther, at the symposium. Steve discussed the role of the community in the management of Usal, a working community forest. Community engagement is an essential aspect of RFFI's mission. It can present challenges, however, as the forest manager is also charged with meeting state and federal regulations, applying good forest science and adhering to Forest Stewardship Council guidelines. Steve discussed how the Usal Redwood Forest Company is trying to find win-win solutions to the issues of bear damage to redwood trees, the controversy over herbicide use, management of invasive species including scotch broom and barred owls, imbalance of tan oak in the forest, and effects of climate change on reforestation, including seed zones and redwood clones, to mention but a few of the dilemnas that make up a forester's day.

Tom Tuchmann Tom Tuchmann, President of US Forest Capital, serves as an advisor to RFFI's Usal Redwood Forest Co. Tom discussed "Conservation Strategies — Where We Were and Where We're Going." Mr. Tuchmann traced RFFI's unique grass-roots development, from its origin during the "Timber Wars" that rocked northern California. He described the 20-year journey that RFFI traveled - moving beyond the acrimony to unite and purchase the Usal Redwood Forest as a working community forest. He outlined the maturation of the organization and their role as an innovative leader in developing progressive forestry practices and, importantly, unique governance structures that provide the financial flexibility to integrate environmental, social and economic values. Read an abstract of his presentation.

Andrea Horvath

Redwood Forest Foundation Forest Conservation Specialist, Andrea Horvath, was the fourth RFFI staff member to attend the Coast Redwood Science Symposium last month. RFFI was pleased to send Andrea to the three-day event as she is transitioning from her position in RFFI administration to become a Forest Conservation Specialist with RFFI's Usal Redwood Forest Company (URFC). Andrea tells us "I was grateful to be able to take advantage of the opportunity." It was a chance for her to draw on her education in ecology and professional background as a utility forester. Andrea met key players in the Redwood Region from diverse backgrounds and fields of expertise, including foresters and ecologists. She attended many presentations including the talk, described here earlier, by RFFI's President and CEO Mark Welther and URFC's Steve Smith. Andrea also attended the evening poster session and a field tour of Humboldt Redwoods State Park and Humboldt Redwood Company land. "It was a great way to learn about the latest advances in a broad range of fields from silviculture, community forestry, economics and conservation to hydrology, botany, herpetology and fire science."

Usal forest - view to ocean, photo by Jeff Becker
Usal forest - view to ocean, photo by Jeff Becker
 

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