State Announces $3.9 Million Grant for Forest Restoration and Community Protection Near Redway
Nearly $4 million has been awarded by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CALFIRE) to Redwood Community Action Agency for the Redway Forest Health Project. This project will improve the health and fire resiliency of 858 acres of forestland surrounding the town of Redway, CA. The areas slated for treatment include public lands managed by California State Parks and adjoining private properties. The project area includes slopes overlooking the South Fork Eel River and Holbrook Grove, located at the north end of town. The project will address legacy logging impacts and accelerate forest restoration on the 500+ acre parcel added to Whittemore Grove in 2003 as part of the local, grassroots “Stable Slopes Forever” campaign.
The majority of the project is on John B. Dewitt Redwoods State Natural Reserve property and will be focused on accelerating the development of old-forest structure and reducing unnatural fuel build-up. Cooperating adjacent private landowners will support the completion of a shaded fuel break along the ridgetop to improve fire safety, remove excess understory vegetation, and enhance habitat on their properties.Redwood Community Action Agency (RCAA) is leading the project in close collaboration with California State Parks, with local forester Tim Metz helping to plan proposed forest restoration treatments. Local non-profit Ancient Forests International provided critical financial support for early project development.
“This is a fantastic project that lets us restore the portion of Redway Ridge that was originally protected by the ‘Stable Slopes Forever’ campaign, protect our ancient redwood groves, and make our community safer from fire,” said Metz.
RCAA Projects Coordinator Natalie Arroyo, who led the grant-writing and project development efforts, shared that “this project was truly a community-led effort, and it was an honor to be part of it! The resident leadership in pushing for this project was extraordinary, and RCAA is looking forward to supporting this important work. We are committed to supporting healthy watersheds and healthy communities, and see so much need for climate change adaptation and resilience projects like this one.”
“This will be a real boost for Redway, certainly for community safety, but also for local businesses and economic activity,” said Dave Walsh with Ancient Forests International.
The project, a priority in the Humboldt County Community Wildfire Protection Plan and for the Southern Humboldt Fire Safe Council, will adjoin another CALFIRE project that is currently being implemented on the east side of Redway. When combined, the projects address fire risk from both east and west and improve the ability of trees and other vegetation to survive fire and summer drought stress.
“These types of partnerships with the community will be essential for public land managers to be able to address the scale of our fire challenges” said Victor Bjelajac, the Superintendent of the North Coast Redwoods District of California State Parks.
Project details will be refined in cooperation with project partners and resource [management] agencies over the coming months. Project implementation, including light ecological thinning and treating surface fuels both mechanically and with prescribed fire, will likely start in 2023 and will be complete by spring of 2026. Support for early plant and wildlife surveys is coming from the North Coast Resource Partnership through the state’s Regional Forest and Fire Capacity Program.The project was catalyzed by local residents Dave Walsh, Adona White, and Tim Metz, with support from former resident Paul Mason, a Sacramento-based forest restoration advocate. The project is supported by Assemblyman Jim Wood, Senator Mike McGuire, the Southern Humboldt Fire Safe Council, Ancient Forest International, the Environmental Protection Information Center, and numerous local businesses.