Coastal Redwood, conservationist, Elizabeth Thacher Kent, Golden Gate International Biosphere Reserve, John Muir, Muir Woods, natural resources, Sequoia sempervirens, Sustainable gardening, United Nations, William Kent
“This is the best tree-lover’s monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world. You have done me a great honor, and I am proud of it.” – John Muir to William Kent
Muir Woods National Monument is a small remnant of an old coastal redwood forest that covered many valleys along the coast of California prior to the 1800’s. Coastal redwoods still dominated this fog-drenched forest including some that are over 600 years old. In 1905 when many of the trees along the coast had been cut down and milled, a local business man William Kent and his wife Elizabeth Thacher Kent bought the land that is now Muir Woods, in order to protect it. A little bit later the water district tried to obtain the land by eminent domain. The Kents were determined to preserve these redwoods so they donate the land to the federal government with the help of President Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt used the 1906 Antiquities Act to proclaim the area a national monument. And at the request of the Kents it was named after their good friend and conservationist John Muir. Mr. Kent went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and in 1916 introduced important legislation that helped create the National Park Service.
If you have not been to Muir Woods it is 12 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge on California Hwy 1. The roads to it are steep and windy but worth the effort. Having its own micro climate it stays cool and damp there year round. I find it the most peaceful place. It is also a ecological treasure. The creek is part of the Golden Gate International Biosphere Reserve. It is one of the planets richest and most threatened collection of plants and animals. In the shade of the redwood canopy you find fern, moss and delicate wildflowers. In the pockets of light there are Bay laurels and maples and further up into the hills you find Douglas fir. In the summer the dry season on the coast the creek slows to a trickle. Winter is the wet season and the average rain fall is 40 inches.
Coastal redwood also called California redwood are Sequoia sempervirens. It is the only living species in the genus Sequoia, which is part of the cypress family Cupressaceae (formerly treated in Taxodiaceae). These evergreen tree are the tallest living trees on Earth, reaching up to 379 feet (115.5 m) in height from the ground can get up to 26 feet (7.9 m) in diameter. These trees are also among the oldest living things on Earth. Living up to 1,200–1,800 years or more. Before commercial logging and clearing began by the 1850s, this massive tree occurred naturally in an estimated 2,100,000 acres (8,500 km2) along much of coastal of Northern California and the southwestern corner of coastal Oregon. It is estimated that 95% or more of the original old-growth redwood trees have been cut down to be used as lumber for the construction of homes, decks, fences and furniture.
I have been to Muir Woods several times but this was Shawn’s first visit. We took time to read the many placards along the path and I learn quite a bit. One of the most interesting was that in 1945 Muir Woods was the meeting place for the United Nations. Delegates from around the world were meeting in San Francisco to establish the UN. On the 19th of May they traveled to Muir Woods to honor the memory of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who had recently passed away. Because he valued the national parks as a place for inspirations and renewal, it seemed to perfect setting. The organizers hoped that the beauty and serenity of the woods would inspire the delegates to pursue the president’s program for a world peace as they met to establish the United Nations. Roosevelt felt that sustainable forestry practices that protected our natural resources were key to a lasting peace around the world. For a great photo of the gathering chick here. There is also a picture of John Muir and his friend William Kent.
Happy Gardening with Wishes of Peace – Shawn and Laurin