Redwood Champions Amid Drought and Climate Disruption

published in the Mountain Echo, newsletter of the Sempervirens Fund, Fall 2014

by Betsy Herbert, Ph.D.

Redwoods are extraordinary. The more we learn about them, the more extraordinary they prove to be. We’ve known for a long time that California’s coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) are the world’s tallest trees and among the longest-living. Scientists are now confirming that redwoods play an important role in the local water cycle and in achieving a healthy, stable climate.

Forest scientist dispels common myths about old-growth redwood forests

By Betsy Herbert

Santa Cruz Sentinel

Posted: 12/19/13, 12:00 AM PST

When the subject is coast redwoods, people seem to come out of the woodwork to hear a talk, especially when an expert is doing the talking.

On Dec. 10, Dr. Will Russell drew some 125 folks to hear his talk, "Logging, Fire, and the Recovery of Old-growth Coast Redwoods," at Cubberley Community Center in Palo Alto. The Committee for Green Foothills sponsored the event.

Logging: Santa Cruz Mountains protection threatened

by Betsy Herbert and Lennie Roberts

Op-Ed, San Jose Mercury News, 06/21/2013

Santa Clara, San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties' redwood forests, known as the Southern Subdistrict, are highly valued for their timber, wildlife habitat and carbon sequestration -- but also as places for people to live and enjoy the outdoors. Many mountain communities and the entire county of Santa Cruz also depend upon forested watersheds for their drinking water.
But a bill in the California Legislature would remove critical protections that counties in this region have relied on for decades.

Summit-area residents fear timber bill could resurrect rejected logging plan

By Betsy Herbert

Santa Cruz Sentinel, Earth Matters column

Posted: 06/21/13, 12:00 AM PDT

When Linda Wallace, a manager for a telecommunications company, goes home at night she doesn't look forward to poring over the fine print of a complicated legislative bill. But that's just what she and a group of her neighbors in the Summit Road/Highway 17 area have been doing for the past month.

AB 904 (Chesbro), a timber bill being considered by the state legislature, is of great concern to these mountain residents. They fear that if AB 904 becomes state law, it will clear the way for a contentious logging plan -- which CalFire rejected in 2007 -- to go forward again.

Watershed education: Growing big ideas with small grants

By Betsy Herbert

Santa Cruz Sentinel

Posted: 03/13/13, 12:00 AM PDT

When the San Lorenzo Valley Water District initiated its watershed education grant program in 2003, it was not without controversy. Was it appropriate for a public agency to use public funds for watershed education? Some of the district's ratepayers said no, that the district should stick to the basics of supplying water to its customers. But others opined that watershed education is necessary to reduce human impacts to the local water supply. Proponents won the day and the board voted to approve the program.

A new revenue stream from California's redwoods

By Betsy Herbert for the Santa Cruz Sentinel

Posted: 02/15/13, 12:00 AM PST

San Lorenzo Valley Water District is preparing to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars from its redwood forested watershed lands -- without cutting a single tree.

By conducting a rigorous inventory of the vast amounts of carbon stored in its forests, the district can qualify to sell carbon credits through the California Cap and Trade Program, a key piece of the state's Global Warming Solutions Act, also known as AB32.

Elderly Aptos couples envision preserving their giant redwoods

by Betsy Herbert

published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel 6/15/2012

The only way to get to Dan and Pat Miller’s house in Aptos is to walk across a 3-ft wide wooden bridge spanning the steep canyon above Mangels Creek. As I cross the bridge, I feel like I’m walking back in time into a fairy tale. The Millers’ house, built in 1931, is dwarfed by the five giant old redwood trees that encircle it.

Salmon will return if given the chance

by Betsy Herbert

published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel on 4/21/12

It’s not all gloom and doom for the Pacific Coast salmon, whose plight has become a crisis. More than 650 scientists, students, land managers and policymakers attended the 30th annual Salmonid Restoration Conference in Davis April 4 -7 to share their work and ideas about restoring watersheds to bring back the salmon (

Can Redwoods Survive Climate Change?

by Betsy Herbert

Published 02/25/12 in the Santa Cruz Sentinel

It’s hard to imagine that the iconic coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) could be vulnerable to extinction. After all, redwoods have demonstrated legendary resilience to some fairly severe onslaughts. Even after massive clear-cutting, redwood forests have rebounded--as they have over the past century in the Santa Cruz Mountains--with a force reminiscent of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Redwoods are also renowned for their resistance to both fire and disease.

Reason enough to hug a tree: Coast redwoods combat climate change

by Betsy Herbert

published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel 1/28/12

Did you know that the world’s forests, including California’s coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) are helping in a big way to combat climate change? As forests grow, they pull vast amounts of carbon out of the air and store it within their enormous biomass. Forests cover about 30 percent of the earth’s surface, so climate change scientists are looking at the forests with renewed interest to help solve the world’s carbon problem.

All eyes now on conservation plan

by Betsy Herbert

published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel 12/24/2011

On Dec. 16, 2011 Peninsula Open Space Trust [POST] and Sempervirens Fund became the official owners of the 8,532-acre property known as Cemex Redwoods, the largest expanse of unprotected redwood forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The $30 million purchase from Cemex, the largest producer of cement in North America, was jointly announced Dec. 8 by the five conservation groups partnering in the deal [POST, Sempervirens Fund, the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, LTSCC, Save the Redwoods League and the Nature Conservancy]. (Disclosure: I serve on the Board of Directors of Sempervirens Fund.)