The Save-the-Redwoods League was founded in 1918 to protect California's redwood forests for future generations to enjoy. Prominent individuals involved in the formation of the League included Stephen T. Mather, first Director of the National Park Service ; Congressman William Kent, author of the bill creating the National Park Service; Newton Drury, Director of the National Park Service from 1940–1951; and John Merriam, paleontologist and later president of the Carnegie Institute. The impetus for forming the organization was a trip taken in 1917 by several of these men and others during which they witnessed widespread destruction of the forests by loggers. They were appalled to learn that not one tree was protected by either the state or the federal government. Upon their return, they wrote an article for National Geographic detailing the devastation. Shortly thereafter they formed the Save-the-Redwoods League. One of the League's first actions was to recommend to Congress that a Redwoods National Park be established.
The specific stated objectives of the organization are:
- "to rescue from destruction representative areas of our primeval forests,
- to cooperate with the California State Park Commission, the National Park Service, and other agencies, in establishing redwood parks, and other parks and reservations,
- to purchase redwood groves by private subscription,
- to foster and encourage a better and more general understanding of the value of the primeval redwood or sequoia and other forests of America as natural objects of extraordinary interest to present and future generations,
- to support reforestation and conservation of our forest areas."
This non-profit organization uses donations to purchase redwood lands from willing sellers at fair market value. All contributions, except those specified for research or reforestation, are used for land acquisition.
The League's members and donors have given more than $70 million in private contributions since the formation of the organization. These monies have been used to purchase and protect more than 130,000 acres (52,609 ha) of redwood park land. The establishment of the Redwoods National Park in 1968, and the park's subsequent expansion in 1978, represented milestones for the Save-the-Redwoods League which had fought for such a national park for 60 years.
Mere acquisition of the redwood groves does not ensure the long-term survival of the redwoods ecosystem . Based on almost 70 years of study by park planners and ecologists, a major goal of the Save-the-Redwoods League is to complete each of the existing redwoods parks as ecological units along logical watershed boundary lines. The acquisition of these watershed lands are necessary to act as a buffer around the groves to protect them from effects of adjacent logging and development.
[Ted T. Cable ]