Redwood National and State Parks

Redwood National and State Parks

Letting in the light: Redwood Park forest thinning project in full swing

September 14, 2009, 7:05 am

An ornery-looking machine called a feller buncher reached out its arm and grasped the base of a small fir tree, sliced it from the ground and laid it onto a deck of logs along the side of a road.

It's a typical logging scene on North Coast timberlands. But this scene was unfolding Thursday in the heart of Redwood National Park. In fact, it would be indistinguishable from a commercial operation to thin trees from the densely choked stands above the South Fork of Lost Man Creek but for its goals.

The project spans 1,700 acres and aims to give these tightly packed forests -- logged in the 1950s and 1960s and heavily seeded -- some breathing room. The park bought this land in 1978, and began looking at ways to accelerate the growth of trees so they eventually look more like the giants the park is famous for.