A new addition to Redwood National and State Parks will connect two of its largest redwood groves and enable visitors to access trails within Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.
The new Berry Glen Trail acquisition connects Lady Bird Johnson Grove with the Lost Man Creek trail and was purchased by Save the Redwoods League in 2015. Save the Redwoods League transferred the 5.9 acre property to Redwood National Park last month using $87,000 from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), according to a press release from the nonprofit.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund applies revenue from offshore oil and gas lease reserves to environmental conservation.
The property transfer is part of an effort by both the League and the National Park Service to protect the Prairie Creek Scenic Corridor roughly one mile north of Orick. The corridor serves as the southern gateway to Redwood National and State Parks.
“In the original 1968 legislation that created the park, there was a provision in that legislation that provided for the acquisition of the scenic corridor of Prairie Creek,” said Christine Arialia, land project manager for the Save the Redwoods League. “This is one of those properties that is determined to be within that scenic corridor.”
The League purchased the property from Carole Hurst, who had provided public access for hikers, Arialia said. Hurst approached the Save the Redwoods League about establishing a permanent trail connection between Lady Bird Johnson and Lost Man Creek. She will still own the home that is on those properties, however, Arialia said.
The new acquisition contains a one-acre marsh that draws herds of Roosevelt elk, which in turn attracts thousands of tourists and photographers every year, according to the press release. A tributary of Prairie Creek flows that flows through the property supports fish populations.
“Technically Carole could have sold this property to somebody else that decided they didn’t want public access,” Arialia said.
The Berry Glen acquisition joins the 2.5-acre Prairie Creek Tract property about a mile north as a new addition to Redwood National Park. The League purchased the Prairie Creek Tract in 2011 and transferred it to Redwood National Park in 2016 using LWCF money.
Another significant acquisition was the League’s 2013 purchase of the Orick Mill Site, which is near the Berry Glen Trail acquisition. The Save the Redwoods League is in the middle of raising money to build a new visitor center on the 125-acre property, which Arialia hopes will become the southern gateway for the national park.
“(You can) get out of your car and hike into the redwoods, which you cannot do at the Kuchel Visitor Center,” Arialia said. “One of the things we’re really hoping to achieve with this project is it makes it really clear you have arrived and you can get out of your car and you don’t have to get back in your car. You can hike right into the redwoods and see world-class old growth a short ways away from the visitors center.”
The new visitor center also calls for a traditional Yurok village, which would also feature traditional brush dance demonstrations. Arialia said she also hopes to the visitor center will have a canopy walkway.
“It could really open up a whole other experience for people,” she said.
Save the Redwoods League has been leading the conservation effort for coast redwoods and giant sequoias since 1918. The League has protected nearly 200,000 acres of redwood forests. For more information, visit SaveTheRedwoods.org.