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


6 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.

  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

    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.

  5. 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.

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