A Dec. 31 deadline is looming to raise money for a $3.5 million project to safeguard the Grove of Titans in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.

The project, a partnership between California State Parks, Save the Redwoods League and the Redwood Parks Conservancy, will include installing a 1,300-foot elevated walkway that connects the grove to the existing Mill Creek Trail. It would also remove unofficial trails that have contributed to compacted soil and the destruction of understory plants around the grove, according to a Save the Redwoods League press release.

In November, the non-profit organization announced that Josie Merck, whose father was a Save the Redwoods League councilor from 1953 to 1984, will match all contributions up to $500,000 that are donated by Dec. 31.

The first phase of the project is currently underway and includes a public access study of Howland Hill Road, the main point of vehicular access to the Grove of Titans, according to a Save the Redwoods League press release. The planned rerouting of the Mill Creek Trail and construction of the elevated trail system will also undergo compliance review. According to the press release, this portion of the project is expected to be finished by fall 2019.

The second phase of the project is expected to begin in September 2019 and includes the elevated walkways construction as well as removal of the unofficial trails and restoration, according to the press release. The project also includes installing visitor services and amenities, including interpretive signs and materials.

During construction, the Mill Creek Trail will be closed from Howland Hill Road to the Smith River. The new trail system is expected to open in July 2021, according to the press release.

The Grove of Titans was discovered in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in 1998. Following unofficial publication of its location, however, visitation has increased dramatically over the past two decades with as many as 13,000 cars per month traveling along Howland Hill Road in the summer, according to the press release.

For more information and to donate, visit SavetheRedwoods.org/Titans or GroveofTitans.org. Donations can also be made by calling the Save the Redwoods League at 415-820-5800 or the Redwood Parks Conservancy at 707-465-7329.

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