These are parks and forests located in Northern California along the coastline that were established in 1968 following government efforts to reduce the open and clear-cut logging activities that had been happening in the region (Coy, 1982). These parks comprise of four major parks and forests namely: Jedidiah Smith, Prairie Creeks, the Del Norte Coast and Redwoods State Parks. As such, the combination of the Redwoods National and State parks, hereinafter referred to as RNSP, is over 133,000 acres in land (RNSP Visitor's Guide, 2010). The establishment of the RNSP was done in order to protect some of the indigenous species that are harbored in the great North Californian coast, some of which are the Northern spotted owl, the tidewater goby, the Stellers sea lion among other species. This paper is an in-depth analysis of the park including park management, the history, flora and fauna in the parks, invasive species among other things.
The park was initially inhabited by the Native Americans, who were seen as the keepers of the park. Indeed, a delve into the history of the Native American peoples will show their attachment to nature and their call to protect it as the keepers of nature. As such, the inhabitants of the region prior to 1850 were found to be the Native American tribes such as the Yurok, Chilula and Wiyot, of which the Yurok were most populous. There were about 55 villages of these peoples with an estimated population of 2500 people. The abundant redwood was used for the purposes of domestic survival such as the building of houses and boats for their travel in the rivers that were present in the expansive area. It is important to note that the redwood area covered around 2 million acres before the exploration and logging activities (NPS, 2004).
In 1828, the European Jedidiah Smith went on to map out the entire region of the Redwoods, where he found that there was gold on the Trinity River. This is something that cause miners to have a rush towards coming into the region. Thereafter, it was found that the gold was just a minor mineral there, and the miners settled on the coastline. Meanwhile, the Native Americans in the region were put under great pressure and at times, massacred in order to provide land for the expansion of the European population. By 1895, only one third of the original Yurok were present in the region while other tribes such as the Chilula were fully assimilated or murdered in the process (Castillo, 2004). The miners turned to logging activities for the construction of towns such as San Francisco after the end of the minor gold rush. Extensive and unrestricted logging led to the raising of concerns by the conservationists on the activities of the loggers. This led to the introduction of legislation in 1911 creating a Redwood National Park. However, the creation was delayed until the 1960s because of the need for lumber in World War 2 and the subsequent rebuilding after the war. But after much lobbying, President Johnson signed the bill into law in 1968. By this time, only 20% of the original growth forest was still intact. The UN named the forest a World Heritage Site in 1980 because of its sustenance of archaeological sites and indigenous species (National Park Service, 2008).
The headquarters of the park are located in Crescent City, which is the nearest city to the park. The lack of funds for development have hampered the managements efforts to ensure that the originally logged trees were replanted. However, lumber companies have replaced native trees in the region with non-native trees in efforts to reclaim lost land (Sheldon, 1955). Efforts are being made to rehabilitate the forest land, including the use of controlled forest fires. It is important to note that the lumbering process often separated old-growth section even by miles, depending on the accessibility of the trees and this means that it will take some time before the original state of dense old-growth is returned will take some time. However, efforts are underway and money has been invested to rehabilitate the area. Some of the logging roads that were in the park have been converted into scenic roads for tourism purposes, though they are yet to be standardized.
The major resources in the park that will be sampled are the flora and fauna. With regards to the flora, it was once estimated that the entire vegetation covered around 2 million acres. About 96% of all the old-growth redwoods were logged during the settlements and the remaining redwoods are found in the RNSP. The protection of the remaining redwoods are almost equally divided under the protection of the state and federal governments (Schrepfer, 1983). These types of vegetation have been estimated to be existent on this coast for about 20 million years. The redwood vegetation consists of the giant trees such as the sequoia which is a variation of the dawn redwood. These trees grew at a very high height considering the height of the tallest tree as of 2006, Hyperion, which stood at 379.1 feet (Martin, 2006). These trees are documented to live an average of 600 years, with some of them even documented to have been at least 2000 years old; this makes them the longest living organisms in the earth.
With regards to fauna, the forest provides ample ecosystems for the development of rare animal species. This is because within the ecosystems exists different types of landscapes including seacoast, prairie, dense forests and rivers. The animals aforementioned in the paper are some of those that are found in the forest, and are named as endangered because of their ability to only live in such environments. Over 40 species of animals have been documented to be living in these areas.
The geography in this region presents a challenge as some of the meeting points of tectonic plates exist a few miles southwest of the Parks. As such, the parks are frequently experiencing minor earthquakes causing landslides, river channel shifting and erosion on seaside cliffs. As such, potential for very serious earthquakes exist when dealing with this region (Oppenheimer, 2007). The region has oceanic temperate climate. The weather in the region is influenced by its proximity to the Pacific. The redwoods are often found close to the coast, ranging from 2km inland to a maximum of 80km.
As sampled previously, fire management is part of the parks management plans. Wild fires are important to the growth and development of nature, with the ability to remove dead animal and plant matter in the forest and provide a richer ground for trees by removing excessive competition. As such, the management has undertaken to institute controlled fires in a simulation exercise to increase biodiversity in the region, especially having in mind that some species are more likely to take over without such measures.
Castillo, E. (2004). Short Overview of California Indian History. Retrieved from California Native American Heritage Commission: www.ceres.ca.gov/nahc/califindian.html
Coy, O. (1982). The Humboldt Bay Region 1850-1875. Crescent City : Humboldt County Historical Society.
Martin, G. (2006). Eureka! New tallest living thing discovered. Retrieved from San Fransisco Chronicle: www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi%3Ffile%3D/c/a/2006/09/07/MNGQRLOTDV1.DTL
National Park Service. (2008). Threatened/Endangered Species. Retrieved from National Park Service: www.nps.gov/archive/redw.home.html
NPS. (2004). The Indians of the Redwoods. Retrieved from National Park Service: www.nps.gov.history/history/online_books/redw/history1a.htm
Oppenheimer, D. (2007). Mendocino Triple Junction Offshore Northern California: a policy for rapid mobilization of USGSOBS (RMBOS). Retrieved from US Geological Survey: www.woodshole.er.usgs.gov/operations/obs/rmobs_pub/html/mendocino.html
RNSP Visitor's Guide. (2010). National or State Park. Retrieved from pwrcms.nps.gov: pwrcms.nps.gov/redw/photosmultimedia/upload/VG_REDW_LOWRES_6.9.10.pdf
Schrepfer, S. (1983). The fight to save the redwoods: a history of environmental reforms, 1917-1978. Winsconsin: University of Winsconsin Press.
Sheldon, W. (1955). A history of Boone and Crockett Club. Crescent City: Boone and Crockett Club.
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