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Tall, tall trees: kids & conservation

August 2, 2010

[Humbolt Redwoods State Park– Avenue of the Giants]

When I was teaching in June, I had an acquaintance from the Academy of Science come and speak to my class about the intersection of technology and science in his work.  It was interesting for many reasons, but especially because of a short video he showed us to illustrate how virtual imaging augments scientific studies: this video showed the shrinking redwood habitat due to global warming in the next 50 years or so.  Now this video (which was shown, I believe, at the climate conference this past year) was a reminder for me of how fragile our world is , and also of how changes are happening even when they don’t seem to be.  (I’m not sure where to access that video yet, but here is a link to the Academy website on this issue.)

I grew up in the redwoods.  My house and yard as a young child were almost entirely shaded by them, and later, after we moved to a sunny hillside where my mom could finally have her veggie garden, we spent many hours at the local state park filled with redwoods.  My kids, so far, have been raised in suburbia.  They’ve met a redwood or two, but this video reminded me how important it is to get them out into the forest a bit more.  It particularly reminded me of that very special quiet that you can only find in a redwood forest, a quiet that is a combination of footsteps softened by the forest floor and reverence for the magnificence of these giant trees.

This summer we’ve made an effort to visit some of these forests that surround us (still, for now) in our region.  We’ve made it out to my old stomping ground, Armstrong Woods State Reserve, for a birthday picnic for my sister, and my kids discovered a hollowed tree trunk that they bravely entered even though it was very, very dark (one that my sister and I had also braved many times as children).  We also made our first visit to Muir Woods National Monument (not sure how I’ve lived in this region my whole life and never visited, but I guess there is always more to discover within a stone’s throw of your home), and my kids enjoyed reading the informational panels and taking their own pictures of the park.  Most recently, we packed ourselves up and headed north for some camping near Fortuna, and on our way home meandered through Humboldt Redwoods State Park, driving for a bit on the Avenue of the Giants.   I discovered, much to my surprise when we stopped mainly to use their restrooms, that they have one of the most wonderful visitor’s centers for kids, with lots of things to touch, smell, and interact with.

Besides getting out and experiencing the redwoods, I’m just starting to see what else I can do.  So far, I’ve followed the links provided by the Academy, including Save the Redwoods League.  And I’m posting this.  As a reminder to myself that this is something that deserves my attention.  And the attention of my children.  But first, they must learn to love the redwoods like I do, and that means we will have to make some more trips to the forests (I’m thinking Henry Cowell Redwoods might be up next).  But then what?

Any ideas? What are the habitats threatened in your areas?  How do you get your kids involved in conservation?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sofia Sorensen permalink
    March 16, 2011 8:51 pm

    I am not sure how old your children are but you seem to be in the same geographical area. Here are some great places with short hikes: Big Basin. Really beautiful trees. I haven’t ever taken my kids to Muir Woods and I don’t feel bad because I take them to Big Basin. Uvas Canyon County Park in Santa Clara County has a wonderful, short (1.5 mile) waterfall hike along the creek, through different woods. It is particularly fun to go a) after a big rainstorm or b) in the summer when you can wade in the creek. We also love Castle Rock State Park, near Los Gatos. It has beautiful madrones and great rocks for climbing. Again, a nice short loop trail. The thing about being in nature with kids is, I’ve found, is that you have to slow down and notice the small things. It is not necessarily about the big vistas but about the banana slug, the fairy house, ” the weird fungus, the twisted tree.

    • jessbcuz permalink*
      March 17, 2011 7:42 am

      Great recommendations! Thank you.

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