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Headwaters Forest Reserve

Headwaters Forest in northern California
Location Eureka, California, USA
Nearest city Eureka, California
Coordinates 40°38′16″N 124°04′47″W / 40.63766°N 124.07959°W / 40.63766; -124.07959Coordinates: 40°38′16″N 124°04′47″W / 40.63766°N 124.07959°W / 40.63766; -124.07959
Area 7,472 acres (30.24 km2)
Established March 1999
Visitors 8,000 (in 2007) [1]
Governing body Bureau of Land Management / State of California

The Headwaters Forest Reserve is a series of old growth redwood groves measuring about 60,000 acres (240 km2). Located in the Northern California coastal forests ecoregion near Humbolt Bay of the U.S. state of California, most of it was owned by the now defunct Pacific Lumber Company, which was owned by Charles Hurwitz and Maxxam Inc. The Headwaters Forest has been the site of many tree sits and anti-logging demonstrations.

Climate is characterized by maritime conditions of cool, wet and foggy winters and cool to warm cloudy summers. Elevations range from 100 feet (30 m) to over 2,000 feet (610 m).


The reserve

The reserve was established in 1999 (H.R. 2107, Title V. Sec.501[2]). The reserve was created after a 15 year effort to save the ancient ecosystem (with some trees estimated at over two thousand years old), from being clearcut. Almost 60 per cent of what is now the Reserve was harvested by mostly clearcutting with over 35 miles (56 km) of road construction and over a hundred stream crossings which greatly degraded watershed ability to store and filter water runoff. The untouched portion, however, is dense, old-growth forest with pristine watershed conditions.[3]

This reserve of 7,472 acres (30.24 km2) is public land and is under the stewardship of the US Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Of the total area, 3,088 acres (12.50 km2) are old-growth redwood stands surrounded by 4,384 acres (17.74 km2) of previously harvested timberlands.[4] The reserve is located about 6 miles (9.7 km) southeast of Eureka, CA.

According to the BLM, "the reserve is set aside to protect and preserve the ecological and wildlife values in the area, particularly the stands of old-growth redwood that provide habitat for the threatened Marbled Murrelet, Northern Spotted Owl, native salmon stocks, and other old growth forest dependent species..." As well as the stream systems that provide habitat for the threatened coho salmon. Other forest trees in the Reserve include Douglas-fir, tanoak, Sitka spruce, western red ceder, western hemlock and red alder. There are limited distribution ( CNPS list 4) plants in the Reserve including the heart-shaped twayblade and Kellogg's Lily.[5]

The Headwaters Forest Reserve is one of the few remaining refuges for the endangered seabird the Marbled Murrelet. Marbled Murrelets make their nests on large redwood tree branches between March 25 and September 15. The seabird nesting can be disastrously disrupted by human activity. Visitors are restricted from entering the forest during breeding season, approximately June 25 to August 1.[6]

It is the only forest reserve in the United States and is managed as a nature reserve of the BLM's National Landscape Conservation System.



The federal legislation (Public Law 105-83) authorizing the acquisition of the property resulted from an agreement between Department of the Interior and Pacific Lumber Company in September, 1996. This legislation established a specific boundary with access points, called for joint federal-state acquisition with the BLM the managing agency and the State of California having a conservation easement, and required a management plan for the forest. The California state easement gives the state oversight responsibility to ensure "all human activities with the Headwaters Forest shall be consistent with the stated goals and purposes..." The California Department of Fish and Game represent the state's interest.[7]

The agreement

The agreement had two main parts: first, it provided $380 million dollars of public funds for the purchase of the Reserve. Second, it required a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) be developed and approved to allow limited logging on the remaining 211,000 acres (850 km2) of Pacific Lumber Company timberland.[8] Headwaters Forest Reserve is the largest area of old-growth redwoods protected as a result of the Redwood Summer protests.[9]

Federal and state legislation

H.R. 2107 was passed by the US Congress on October 1997 which committed the government's share of $250 million of the purchase price.
California provided its share of $130 million in Chapter 615, Statutes of 1998 with a requirement of stricter conditions regarding the Habitat Conservation Plan. Specifically, wider no-cut buffer zones, prohibitions on logging in certain areas, and a requirement for watershed analysis. Also, Chapter 615 authorized purchase of two additional portions, the Owl Creek, and the Grizzly Creek properties. Lastly, it provided Humbolt County with $12 million as economic assistance.[8]


  1. ^ "2007 BLM Managers Report". Retrieved 2009-04-10. 
  2. ^ Library of Congress, text of H.R. 2107, Title V-PRIORITY LAND ACQUISITIONS, LAND EXCHANGES, AND MAINTENANCE
  3. ^ Environmental Impact Statement, Ch. 3. p.5
  4. ^ [1] 2007 BLM Manager Report
  5. ^ CNPS database, Kellogg's lily factsheet.
  6. ^ In 2007 Headwaters Forest Reserve was posted as closed from June 25 to July 20. On July 19 signage was altered to extend the closure to August 1.
  7. ^ [2] Headwaters Final Environmental Impact Statement, Ch.1, p.2
  8. ^ a b An LAO Report, Opportunities and Challenges for the State-The Headwaters Forest Legislative Analyst Office of the state of California.
  9. ^ Widick, Richard (January 2006). "Violence, Archive, and Memory in the Making of the Redwood Imaginary". All Academic Inc. p. 19. Retrieved 16 January 2010. 

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