After a 16-year battle, 920 acres of YMCA land near La Honda are now permanently protected. Camp Jones Gulch, where generations of kids have gone to camp, had been proposed as a site for commercial timber harvesting. The property contains 39 acres of old growth redwood forest and 668 acres of younger, second growth trees.
In 2006, the YMCA submitted a Nonindustrial Timber Management Plan (NTMP) to Cal Fire, which would have allowed logging the forest every 15 years in perpetuity, including cutting many of the largest second-growth trees. After Green Foothills rallied hundreds of people to object to the proposal, the YMCA withdrew the plan and collaborated with Sempervirens Fund to create a conservation easement that permanently protects the property.
“None of this would have happened without Green Foothills,” said Sara Barth, Executive Director of Sempervirens Fund. “Green Foothills advocate Lennie Roberts was the first savior of those trees. We look forward to ensuring your protection efforts are carried on into the future.”
Camp Jones Gulch is adjacent to Sam McDonald Park, Pescadero Creek Park, and Memorial Park. Its conservation is an essential link in a corridor of protected lands connecting the mountains to the coast. The camp property includes the largest unprotected stand of old-growth redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
An Agreement Benefitting Nature and Children
Now that Sempervirens owns the timber and other development rights, they will work closely with the YMCA and agency partners to create a long-term stewardship plan to restore the forest, reduce fire risk, and improve wildlife habitats.
Sempervirens has established a $422,000 stewardship fund to support ecological restoration work that will improve the health and resilience of the forest, creeks, ponds, and other habitats throughout the property. They are also planning bird surveys for marbled murrelet and corvids, as well as the removal of invasive species.
In addition to saving the trees, the agreement will benefit the 23,000 children who attend Camp Jones Gulch each year. With funds earned from selling the conservation easement, the YMCA has begun to upgrade the camp cabins and other facilities.
This is a wonderful outcome of a long struggle to ensure the permanent protection and restoration of this special place that has been enjoyed by generations of kids. Many thanks to Sempervirens Fund and to the YMCA for this heart-warming outcome!