Friday, April 25, 2014

Landscape Amnesia, Arcata Community Forest, Caltrans, and Richardson Grove

At one time, a redwood Titan growing in Arcata. 50 feet up, the tree snapped in half which is probably why this "stump" was not harvested.
I've been thinking a lot these days about "landscape amnesia," a term I heard used not too long ago. Basically, it was used in reference to our forgetting about how landscapes once looked. How easy it is to pass through any spot in this country and simply believe that's how it's always appeared! Sometimes, I have trouble trying to imagine what the redwood forest of 200 years ago must have looked like, or which spots monstrous trees must have grown. At the same time, I'm still blown away by how many places in Humboldt Redwoods State Park are basically a sliver of old growth redwood forest growing along the Eel River, sometimes no more than a few hundred feet wide, the rest of the surrounding area logged.

The picture above was not taken in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. It was taken in the Arcata Community Forest. It's a massive old redwood that grows way up on a hillside. The tree appears to have snapped in half many years ago, and is one of the few remaining monuments to the past majesty of the trees in this particular spot. I'd guess it was not worth the time and energy to harvest the remnants of this old titan, so it was left as is. The rest of the surrounding forest was logged however.

Places like Richardson Grove remain under serious, serious pressure by Caltrans to widen the road there. It's all about economics obviously. It's the same old story of driven individuals with more power than anyone one person or organization ought to have and who will ultimately see their plan realized one way or the other. If successful, it will be a gradual change. A few trees here, a few trees there. More cars and trucks here, more cars and trucks there. In a few years, most people will not even realize the changes made, amnesia will take it's course. Will the people, the American people, stand up to protect spots like Richardson Grove from any and all incursion? Only time will tell...

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