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Towering, remote Sonoma County forest preserved

by J.D. Morris, The Press Democrat, May 7, 2017


Deep in northwestern Sonoma County’s thickly forested mountains, about 10 miles from the coast and a world away from the bustle of any population center, Mike Young walked beneath a towering canopy of redwood and Douglas fir trees he’s come to know well over the past several decades.

He was leading a small group last week on a tour of his remote property, an expanse of forest that feels untouched. The trees were too numerous to count and soared hundreds of feet into the sky.

Young stopped at one about 16 feet in diameter — so big that, when three people linked arms around it, they couldn’t get halfway around. Its height and age are a mystery.

“It just goes on and on and on,” Young said, guessing it stands more than 250 feet tall and is several thousand years old.

The tree is in good company here on a string of properties acquired by members of the Howlett family beginning in 1949. The owners allowed only selective logging over the years, Young said. Spikes still stand out from tree trunks where the late George Howlett designated areas where logging couldn’t occur.

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Within its bounds, Howlett Forest has more than 2,560 trees greater than four feet in diameter, including 870 redwood trees with a diameter greater than five feet, according to the Open Space District. It has creek corridors that haven’t been logged and it contains headwaters of two of the five main tributaries to the Gualala River, home to salmon and steelhead trout.

Howlett Forest is also surrounded by other massive properties that are already protected, including nearly 20,000-acre Buckeye Forest in Sonoma County — the former Preservation Ranch — and 14,000-acre Gualala River Forest in Mendocino County. Both are owned by The Conservation Fund, a nonprofit group that’s secured a large swath of North Coast forest for protection and restoration. It funds work partly through sale of carbon credits and low-impact logging.

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To read the entire article, visit The Press Democrat: Towering, remote Sonoma County forest preserved with $4.5 million from local taxpayers

Howlett Forest map
Howlett Forest map