The Sempervirens Fund announced the purchase of a 16.5-acre tract of forest, known as the Sterrenzee Ridgetop, which is situated adjacent to Big Basin Redwoods State Park.
The ridgetop offers views of Big Basin to the west and Boulder Creek to the east and is home to second-growth redwoods and hardwoods, largely unscathed by the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex fires. The Sterrenzee Ridgetop is situated on the northern edge of a 153-acre property referred to as the Gateway to Big Basin, acquired by the land trust last year. This follows the January acquisition of the 15-acre Saddle Mountain Vista property, which lies just south of the gateway.
Kurt and Mary Mortensen sold the Sterrenzee Ridgetop for $500,000, while Andrea Potter sold the Saddle Mountain Vista for $376,500. The Resources Legacy Fund and the Sempervirens Fund donors provided the financial support for these acquisitions.
Sempervirens Fund Executive Director Sara Barth remarked, “These acquisitions expand protection of the old-growth forests in Big Basin’s core and support efforts to reestablish the park as a lively destination to experience ancient redwoods. Given the threats of climate change, these land acquisitions and conservation efforts are more important than ever.”
These lands will be incorporated into the next phase of California State Park’s Reimagining Big Basin visioning process. This initiative began following the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex fire that devastated nearly all structures within the park. The Saddle Mountain property, due to its location, is being considered for potential new visitor services and staff buildings.
The newly purchased properties are next to a series of other properties previously acquired by Sempervirens Fund and incorporated into Big Basin Redwoods State Park. According to Chris Spohrer, California State Parks Superintendent, they are intended to further expand the park’s footprint.
Spohrer stated, “Preserving forests next to Big Basin is vital for the park’s future. The newly protected Saddle Mountain properties extend the park’s protection of redwood forests and the Boulder Creek watershed, aligning with our vision and public expectations for the park.”
Before officially becoming part of Big Basin Redwoods State Park, the Sempervirens Fund will manage the lands as conservation areas, focusing on supporting wildfire recovery. This involves activities like hazard tree removal, selective thinning, removal of non-native species, and other steps to aid the forest’s healing.
Laura McLendon, Sempervirens Fund’s Director of Land Conservation, emphasized that active forest management is crucial to restore these forests and lessen the severity of any future wildfires. She noted that this is vital for community safety as well as forest health.