In its first effort to recreate a champion tree old growth forest, Archangel Ancient Tree Archive successfully planted a four-acre grove of 2,000 to 3,000-year-old coast redwood and giant sequoia clones near Port Orford, Oregon. This living archive of trees is exactly in line with Archangel’s mission. There is much we still don’t know about these trees, and this archive will keep the genetics of these essential trees available to study for centuries to come.
Beginning on Dec. 5, 2012, Archangel Co-Founder David Milarch, along with Champion Tree Project partner Terry Mock, planted the 250 clones at Ocean Mountain Ranch on a foggy and largely inaccessible mountainside slope, located just north of the coast’s main redwood range. With the help of several foresters, the group planted the foot-and-a-half to three-foot tall trees in three days. The location of this archive was chosen because it is anticipated by scientists that future climate change will require that trees be moved north from their present range in what is being called “assisted migration”. The planting site had been previously cleared of 50 year-old 2nd growth douglas fir under a comprehensive sustainable forest stewardship plan being implemented on the ranch.
Clones came from fifty 2,000-year-old redwoods now living along the California and Oregon Pacific coast, including cuttings from the 32.5 foot-wide Fieldbrook Stump, a giant redwood that was felled by loggers around 1890. Cuttings were collected over the period of 8 months in 2011. The plant material was brought to our propagation facility where we applied a series of growth hormones and performed a number of processes to encourage the plants to sprout roots. Growing the cuttings into viable plants in our propagation facility took between 9 and 14 months.
The Fieldbrook Stump sent out shoots from its stump, and the Archangel team was able to collect and propagate exact genetic duplicates of this tree that was cut down over 120 years ago. This is truly a first in the world of forestry. The stump represents one of the largest redwoods that ever lived.
Jared Milarch, Archangel’s Executive Director stated, “This planting is the culmination of many years hard work. It exemplifies who we are and what we are doing as an organization. We plan on measuring our success by the number of trees we put in the ground, in the right spot, with the right genetics, for all the right reasons.”
The clones are expected to grow at a rate of three to four feet a year. By the time they reach maturity, the giant sequoias will have the ability to store approximately four hundred tons of carbon per tree.
“The planting means the same thing for Archangel as it does for the whole world. That day marked a historic change, a paradigm shift from preservation to restoration,” said Milarch. “It heralded the significance of the beginning of the healing of the planet for our children and our grandchildren to come.”
Everyone at Archangel Ancient Tree Archive is grateful to all our supporters for making this archive planting possible.
Please click this link to see a beautiful photo essay about the planting from our friend Jamie Francis at The Oregonian.