The following is a press release from the Save the Redwoods League:
Save the Redwoods League today announced it has secured the opportunity to acquire and protect 453 acres of coast redwood forest in Mendocino County. The Atkins Place property is a critical habitat corridor, connecting Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve and Bureau of Land Management protected lands. It has 335 acres of coast redwood and Douglas-fir forest, 1.25 miles of steelhead and coho salmon-bearing streams, plus grassland and ridgelines. The League seeks to raise $1.3 million by June 30 for the acquisition.
“Montgomery Woods is a beloved, hidden gem of a coast redwood reserve, and we have an opportunity to expand its protection through the purchase of Atkins Place,” said Becky Bremser, director of land protection for Save the Redwoods League. “Atkins Place shares a three-quarter mile boundary with Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve. If we can save it from future subdivision and development, we can help maintain this land as a critical wildlife corridor and a forested buffer to the old-growth redwoods in the park.”
Adding Atkins Place to Mendocino’s Protected Lands
Located in the South Fork Big River watershed, Atkins Place provides critical spawning habitat for steelhead trout and coho salmon, which are culturally and ecologically important species protected under the Endangered Species Act. Atkins Place also provides important habitat for endangered foothill yellow-legged frogs and northern spotted owls as well as other animals, including northern goshawks, white-tailed kites and other raptors.
The mixed conifer forest on Atkins Place ranges in age from 50 to 90 years. It has been privately owned and managed for timber production for decades. The current landowners, the Weger and Hodge families, have had a Non-Industrial Timber Management Plan in place since 2002 to improve the condition of this young forest. Sustainable timber harvests have taken place, focusing on removing small, unhealthy trees to promote the growth of the larger, more vigorous trees. This conservation-oriented practice brings back a diversity of tree sizes and age classes, characteristics of a healthy forest.
“We’re very proud of how good the forest looks these days and how far it has come,” said Lisa Weger, a representative of the families that are selling Atkins Place to the League. “Seeing Save the Redwoods League purchase Atkins Place means that it will be protected and that all of our work to make this forest healthy will continue.”
The League plans to own and manage the property before ultimately transferring it to California State Parks for inclusion in Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve, creating a potential opportunity for expanded public access in the park.
The protection of Atkins Place furthers the League’s centennial vision to double the size of coast redwood forests in parks and reserves and secure the redwood forests’ footprints and ecological condition.
Saving Mendocino County’s Iconic Redwood Forests
Save the Redwoods League has protected forests in some of Mendocino County’s most beloved parks and reserves, including Mendocino Headlands State Park, Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve, Navarro River Redwoods State Park and Hendy Woods State Park. Most recently, the League purchased and protected the 3,181-acre Lost Coast Redwoods property and donated a 523-acre redwood forest known as Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ to the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, returning Indigenous guardianship of the land.
Funding the Protection of Atkins Place
Save the Redwoods League has secured an agreement to purchase the Atkins Place property from its current owners for $1.18 million. In addition to the purchase price, the League seeks to raise $120,000 for stewardship and transaction costs.
The California Natural Resources Agency has awarded the League $550,000 in acquisition funding for this project through its Environmental Enhancement & Mitigation Program. Google also has made a $188,000 gift through its partnership with the International Living Future Institute and its pursuit of the Living Building Challenge, a certification program that requires new projects to meet certain environmental metrics and directs funding to environmental initiatives.
The League has launched a fundraising effort to raise the remaining $562,000 needed to purchase the property by June 30, 2022.