New Report Finds Environmental Threats Continue at Redwood National and State Parks

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   January 7, 2009
Contact:   Kari Kiser, National Parks Conservation Association, Office: 415.989.9921 x25, Cell: 650.393.9298
Lindsay Bartsh, National Parks Conservation Association, Office: 415.989.9921 x22, Cell: 650.269.2911


New Report Finds Environmental Threats Continue at Redwood National and State Parks

Report credits National Park Service for restoration efforts, recommends more funding

Crescent City, Calif. - An assessment released today by the nation’s leading voice for the national parks, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) indicates that while environmental restoration efforts continue at Redwood National and State Parks, more support is needed to protect the parks’ forest habitats and waterways, and subsequently, the native fish and wildlife that park visitors enjoy.

Key to the area’s recovery is the Redwood Creek watershed and the 1978 expansion which added approximately 50,000 acres upslope and upstream from the original park boundary. The expansion was intended to buffer the world-famous Tall Trees Grove from the effects of adjacent clear cut logging. This historic event resulted in park acquisition costs of over 1 billion dollars and set the stage for the large-scale restoration efforts that have followed.

“Redwood National and State Parks is home to key wildlife species like the northern spotted owl, marbled murrelet, and king and coho salmon,” said Ron Sundergill, NPCA Pacific regional director. “We must ensure that the Park Service has the funding and staff it needs to continue restoring fish and wildlife habitat within the park. It’s also critical that the park continue its positive collaboration with and programmatic support for restoration activities on private lands throughout Redwood Creek.”

According to the assessment by NPCA’s Center for State of the Parks, Redwood National and State Parks’ natural resources rank in fair condition. Despite ongoing restoration efforts by the Park Service, the parks received 69 out of 100 points, primarily because the park’s watersheds suffer from soil erosion and sedimentation caused by past logging practices, which degrades water quality and habitat for salmon and steelhead trout.

Three out of four resident salmon and steelhead trout species are federally listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. As West Coast salmon populations continue to decline, the NPCA report recommends additional funding so that the National Park Service can continue to monitor and ensure a healthy habitat for threatened salmon and trout populations within the parks’ watersheds. Redwood Creek, which is currently listed under the Clean Water Act as impaired, also suffers from high water temperatures due to a lack of forest cover (a result of logging) to provide shade.

The Park Service is working to help the parks recover from previous ecosystem damage that resulted from extensive logging and large floods; work includes road removal, erosion control and monitoring, as well as vegetation management. They are also involved in several crucial partnerships that allow collaboration with private, local, state, and scientific agencies and nonprofits. Some of these partnerships have been ongoing for more than 30 years and have been critical to protecting and restoring the habitats in Redwood Creek. The Park Service has successfully removed approximately 220 miles of degraded, abandoned logging roads and has developed and refined emerging road removal technologies, which it shares with other land managers. However, inadequate funding threatens to end ongoing studies by the Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey on erosion and sedimentation in Redwood Creek— jeopardizing the future of the native salmon and steelhead trout.

The cultural resources of Redwood National Park are also in fair condition, scoring an overall 66 out of 100 points. Just 2.5 full-time equivalent Park Service positions are devoted exclusively to cultural resource management, which limits the park’s ability to study and care for the American Indian, military, industrial, logging, ranching, and fishing history within the park.

“Redwood National and State Parks, like many of our national parks, suffers from chronic funding shortfalls,” said NPCA Senior Program Coordinator Kari Kiser. “With only eight years until the National Park Service centennial, we must ensure our national parks are preserved for our children and grandchildren.”

Redwood National and State Parks were established to preserve examples of the area’s remaining old growth coast redwoods. The Redwood parks preserve about 40,000 acres of old-growth redwood forests, which represent most of the last remaining old growth coast redwood groves on Earth.

NPCA launched the landmark Center for State of the Parks program in 2000 to assess the health of national parks across the country. To download the full report, click here.

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