Moving the Giants

12-21-18 Update

Dear Friends,

Here’s what’s happened with the Moving the Giants project that you first read about in the Seattle Times and other area newspapers this summer. 

  • We now have 2000 Coast Redwood saplings and Giant Sequoia seedlings at the Seattle Parks greenhouse – see details below.
  • We are starting a nonprofit whose mission is to propagate and plant many more thousands if not millions of redwoods and sequoias in the Pacific Northwest.
  • The purpose of the nonprofit would be to support a “community of action” — the people across the Pacific Northwest who want to pursue this mission.  That is, people who want to produce trees (by cloning or from seed), people who want to find the right places to plant them, those who want to dig holes and put these trees in the ground, and people with ideas and energy to pursue this mission in other ways.  One example of this “community of action” (in action) was the recent work of a group of volunteers in repotting 1000 root-bound sequoia seedlings into 1-gallon pots after the trees arrived in Seattle. 
  • I’ll keep you posted on our nonprofit’s incorporation progress, but let me know now what you think of the idea and your ideas for pursuing this mission.
  • In December we received 1700 sequoia seedlings and 300 redwood saplings from Archangel Ancient Tree Archive which are housed at the Seattle Parks greenhouse/nursery.  Photos of these trees can be viewed here.
  • These 1700 seedlings and 300 saplings that arrived in December will be kept at the Seattle Parks Department greenhouse/nursery for several months or even a year or more so they have a chance to adjust and grow.  These trees have lived their entire lives indoors in a Michigan warehouse with artificial lighting, heating (70 degrees) and humidity.  This is their first experience of natural light and variable temperature and humidity. (More details below).
  • The 100 (6-16’ tall) living archive redwood trees are stuck in Michigan until Spring 2019 due to the stringent requirements for them to be certified free of Japanese beetle larva.  And even then, there is no certainty that they will be able to make their way to the West coast.

Some additional background. 

During Sep/Oct 2018, survival and growth data was gathered from the 30 communities that planted the first shipment of 350 redwoods that arrived in 2016 as part of Phase 1.  As it turned out, there was a big difference between the redwood saplings that got planted out in the first 3-4 months after arrival versus those that were kept in nurseries for several months to a year before planting out.  In general, the ones that were kept in nurseries for several months grew almost 3X faster than the ones that got planted out in the first 3-4 months.  The ones held in nurseries several months before planting also had a 20% better survival rate (87% vs 67%) than the ones planted out in the first 3-4 months, which is a big lesson learned and informs our future planting strategy, which is illustrated in the following Planting Timeline.

For the reasons described above and illustrated in the Planting Timeline, these redwoods and sequoias cannot be made available at this time.  Please know that I am determined to do my best on behalf of the trees and the people who want to plant them.  I hope you’ll be patient and stay in touch.  We’ll let you know when the trees are ready for planting.

Again, I’d like to hear from you about the Community of Action that I’ve described earlier and about any ideas you have for pursuing its objectives.

Philip Stielstra


9 thoughts on “12-21-18 Update

  1. Gloria Peterson

    Have 2 redwoods planted in my backyard. They were planted 1993 as seedlings from a trip to California. Would like to add another redwood to my yard. Would also like to give a home to some sequoias on a large piece of property we own.

    1. Prasanna Malla

      Love the work youre doing. Brought tears to my eyes. Please let me know if i can do something for this project. I want to plant lots of trees and watching this story has inspired me alot. Thanks much! Much love.

  2. Kellen Quinn

    Thank You! Beautiful work, I’m young and not sure how best to get involved but for the time being this is just very inspirational to stumble across. As a PNW native I feel like its a project I feel necessary to help with, even if I just spread some seeds around.

    1. Kathryn David-Cornell

      I live in Texas at the moment but am leaving next year to travel via small RV. I would love to help plant or whatever I can do (on my fixed income.) Please let me know! The world needs more projects like this!

  3. Aren Carpenter

    Hi- We are learning all we can about pursuing the goals of your organization.
    As native East coasters We will be traveling west to find the best region to assist your efforts.We have a truck to transport seedlings and Casita 17′ trailer so can live onsite for days in remote areas to perform efficiently. Please put us on your email list so we can keep updated. Thanks -Aren and Becky

  4. Michael McLaughlin

    I actually live in redwood country, IN Humboldt County, CA coastal area, and would like to find out how and with what constraints these ancient clones can be acquired.
    Armed with information, I could develop contacts with active interested individuals and groups here, to help replant.
    Although to drivers through the area, the forests appear thriving, they are largely what I’ve called “babies” , almost all tiny young of 3ft DBH, and what seem entire cut forests stacked up for export to Far east for lumber.
    The logging trucks, most active in early mornings transport these young both to sawmills to the south, or to the mentioned piles for ship transport.

    The history of the atrocious devastation began here in 1850 (And I knew a man born that year, so you must understand how short a time period this actually is) with the discovery of the Humboldt Bay entrance by Euroamerican sailing ships.

    Most of the hugest redwoods experienced colonization of their environs and the cutting of the largest (the SF fire of 1905 and subsequent rebuilding of that central CA city ensured the attack on the forests, which once stretched from Big Sur up the SF Peninsula, and around the eastern side of the SF Bay, to the Chetco River in SW Oregon), but that has died back since the scalping and timber wars against the young who tree-sat for weeks to years to protect a few individual trees in an effort to prevent complete extinction.

    In 1850, , the Bay here became a port for gold miners, as the Klamath Block which had tectonically drifted west due to some Plate movement s that threw up the Cascade volcanic range, still held attractive prospects for gold.

    Of course, nearly all miners failed, and disconsolate, desired to return to their homes back east. It was the enterprising lumber “barons” who got their start by defrauding the government through the 1872 Homestead Act. Quickly removable cabins were built and deeded to the failed miners and seamen, which cabins were made to appear as lawful “development of their free 160 acre tracts. After 6 months of this fraudulent pseudo-occupation, the deeds were given to the usual suspects (Simpson et alia), in return for the price of a ticket home.
    Thus the redwood forest did not gain any protection through remaining public land, and has fallen to two to three cuttings of the original and then the babies I spoke of.

    The invention of chainsaws and huge trucks in the 30s and post-WWII, accelerated the losses, immensely. During my life the surviving old-growth diminished from 40% of original to less than 2%.
    It was not until 1917 that highly concerned people, most of whom lived down in SF Bay area, saw the fast loss of forest and created the Save the Redwoods League, which over time largely bought what are now the small state and national parks containing redwood survivors.
    Since their activity largely consists of collecting donations for their purchases and less costly related projects, individuals, like myself, can only participate through giving money, an unsatisfying thing to do at best, and insignificant individually.

    But most of the young and a high proportion of other residents here have firm desire to protect what remains.

    (About 25 years ago, I was visiting an area of friends who lived backed by huge and ancient trees, and in a single season all were cut to a devastated hellish mess looking more like some post-bomb Hiroshima than anything else. i walked in the scalped and hot land (redwood forests remain about 15degrees cooler across a summer day than unforested land, and 15 degrees warmer in winter days and nights than the artificial ambient left after their death. I walked with two preschool children in that Dantean hell, and realized that I could never countenance another tree of any size being put to death for mere human profit or convenience)

    Since I now live in an open area,although some second growth trees – about 4 to 6 feet DBH survive behind me,- I’d like to plant a few in this yard, and approach a nonprofit litigation org whose mission is to preserve regional forests and indigenous wildlife dependent upon these fertile and diverse systems, whose staff I’ve worked with, and which has active contact throughout the entire county with the preservation-oriented residents.
    Such a replanting project would have tens to hundreds of interested participants, I’d bet. They just lack seedlings and young trees to plant.

    The climate change here is as I anticipated, increased variability in weather. While we are certainly less foggy than 50 years ago, the greater variability in precip is not at all indicative of long-term stable drought. Warming ocean and inland should, in fact lead to maintenance of local historical precip, and even return of fog in the dry months. Most modeling agrees.

  5. Michael McLaughlin

    RE: Guidelines.
    Here in redwood country, I’ve watched seedlings grow even on ridges where clearcuts had turned areas into cattle grazing grasslands. Very young sprouts and seedlings grew over this past 18 years to around 12 ft by now,.
    The hugest redwood groves ARE always in flats in the steep narrow valleys with stream/river beds, but that does not diminish the value of planting where historical redwoods grew. Redwoods, like other trees, share nutrients through the mutualist fungi and interlacing roots systems of neighboring trees. They also share H2O, and help one another handle windstorms. The floor of redwood forests, even the young ones, once canopies are largely closed, are rather dry during rains, with the duff perhaps sequestering water below it for long periods, maintaining moisture in the soil for periods analogous to that of snowbanks in higher, colder forests.
    Redwoods withdraw from most immediate coastline, due to their lower tolerance for the copious salt in the ocean air. Yet, they do range quite close, only replaced in areas exposed to direct ocean winds. The slt constraint seems to diminish over a relatively short distance, varying due to topography. Between redwoods and the open ocean are coastal species like Sitka Spruce, Bishop & Beach Pine, and some Contorta (lodgepole species) and a few other species.

  6. Jonas

    God bless this project and people involved!! It might be a good idea to make a mailing list to allow interested persons to subscribe for updates and keep tabs on the project and allow to join / support any future activities especially if they are from a different location.

  7. Garrett

    If you could get the kids/schools involved at the elementary level they come back every year plant another one. See the trees they planted the years before. Then you’re planting more than trees you are teaching a new generation, something we can do nationwide.

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