By Nicholas Grube
Triplicate staff writer
With the logging industry booming at the turn of the century, old growth redwood forests were disappearing at an accelerated pace in and around Del Norte County.
To stop the cutting and preserve the massive trees, the Save the Redwoods League was established in 1918 and started buying tracts of land along the Del Norte and Humboldt County coasts.
Three conservationists, John C. Merriam, Madison Grant and Henry Fairfield Osborn started the non-profit organization after driving along U.S. Hwy. 101 and noticing the devastation of the logging industry on the redwoods. According to the Save the Redwoods League's Web site, Merriam, Grant and Osborn "were appalled to find that not one tree was owned by any public agency or protected for public enjoyment in any way."
In 1921, the group bought its first redwood grove on the south fork of the Eel River. It was 100 acres of forest dedicated to Colonel Raynal C. Bolling, who was the first high-ranking U.S. soldier to die in World War I.
The League bought 287 acres in Del Norte County in 1924 that would three years later become part of Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park. And in 1929, the Save the Redwoods League donated its first grove to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park¬óthe Frank D. Stout Memorial Redwood Grove.
Since its inception in 1918, the Save the Redwoods League continued to preserve land and is still around today. The group was instrumental in establishing California state parks and, eventually, played a role in the creation of Redwood National Park on Oct. 2, 1968.