(CN) — State Route 1 through California, one of the most spectacular roadways the world over, very rarely leaves the Pacific Coast. Even through the steep mountainous country of Big Sur, where the mountains plunge precipitously into the sea, the highway carves its sinewy way along the ocean.
One noticeable exception is the far northern reach of the state, where the highway takes a sharp right turn inland after leaving the small outpost of Rockport. For about 100 miles, the highway doesn’t touch the sea.
This creates a section of the coast called the Lost Coast, which incorporates the King Range. It’s one of the only places along the West Coast where a dedicated hiker can find himself along the coast without of earshot of noisy vehicles.
On Thursday, a San Francisco Bay Area nonprofit announced the potential land deal to expand the Lost Coast, by securing an opportunity to purchase a 3,800-acre parcel of land that spans five miles of rugged undeveloped coastline in the northern reaches of Mendocino County.
Save the Redwoods League announced it has secured the right to purchase the property replete with towering coastal redwood trees from the Soper Company, a timber company based in Northern California.
“The Lost Coast Redwoods property is the largest privately owned California coastline in the coast redwood range and the league’s highest priority land acquisition,” said Sam Hodder, president and CEO of Save the Redwoods League, in a statement released Thursday. “The property’s expansive redwood forest, spanning five miles of spectacular California coastline, was under direct threat of accelerated harvesting or development. We must act quickly to ensure these mature second-growth redwoods continue on a path to becoming an old-growth redwood forest for future generations.”
The timber company has been harvesting trees on the property, which is known for its unique forest ecology, since the 1960s, but now wants to sell it to a conservation group intent on transforming the property in a protected old-growth forest. But the price must be right.
Save the Redwoods must come up with roughly $37 million by the end of the year to clinch the deal.
If the deal proceeds it would represent the largest protection of the Northern California coastline since the 1990s.
“This sale represents a unique opportunity to purchase more than five miles of California coastline inclusive of beaches, trails, open space, streams and a high concentration of quality timber,” said Aric Starck, executive chairman of Soper Company. “We are pleased to partner on this acquisition with Save the Redwoods League.”
While the second-growth redwoods, which range in age from 80 to 100 years, are the highlight of the property, the forests are also filled with Douglas and grand fir. There is a coastal prairie habitat, all of which support elk and mountain lion. The Cottaneva and Dunn creeks ribbon through the property and provide habitat for Coho salmon and other juvenile fish.
Finally, the property is adjacent to Shady Dell, where the famed 25-mile Lost Coast Trail, one of the most popular backpacker destinations in California, begins its northward lurch. Due to the proximity, Save the Redwoods is planning to add five miles to the scenic trail.
“If the league is successful in raising the funds to purchase the Lost Coast Redwoods property, it will survey the landscape and begin to consider options and potential routes for a new trail and future public access,” the organization said on Thursday.
Save the Redwoods said it will need to raise about $43 million to bring the real estate deal to a close. It has amassed about $10 million in donations thus far.Follow @@MatthewCRenda
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