Monday, February 15, 2010

California's Environmental Legacy

From coastal erosion to invasive plants to disappearing species, it’s easy for me to conjure up images of environmental change in California. But it’s not often that I think about that change in the context of deep time, or geologic time. While human history is but a hair on the geologic time clock, our species has been remarkably successful at rapidly transforming our environment.

An exciting new project explores environmental change in California over the past two billion years, as well as the fundamental nature of our relationship to that change – both presently and into the future. The California Environmental Legacy Project is a multi-institutional, multi-platform endeavor bringing together a wide range of scientists, educators, and media professionals to promote public understanding about environmental change in California and our place in this changing world.

Humboldt State University and Sacramento State are founding partners of the Legacy Project, which recently received a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to produce several key pieces intended to engage Californians in an exploration of environmental change. The centerpiece is a four-episode PBS documentary (for national broadcast in 2012) which will take viewers on a two billion year journey through our state and into a possible future landscape.

A second component, the Changing Places Initiative, will bring this exploration to five regions in the state. Short films, podcasts, and other media are in production for distribution in our parks, museums, and science centers. These regions include:
- Point Reyes Peninsula
- Los Angeles Basin/Baldwin Hills
- Anza Borrego Desert
- Redwood Forests
- Lassen Volcano

And attention teachers… there’s a piece of this project intended just for you and your students’ use. The online Education Portal will engage users with opportunities for streaming media and accessing materials and resources. This will be a place to share ideas and continue the discussion with students and teachers from across the state. Lastly, the K-12 school programs will provide teachers with professional options to enhance learning experiences for their students.

The Legacy Project will help make understanding California’s changing environment accessible, digestible, and maybe most importantly, meaningful for a wide range of audiences, including television viewers, students, park visitors, and online users. Keep an eye out as phases of this exciting project are released over the next two years.

Learn more about the Legacy Project at

Monday, February 1, 2010

Learning About Redwoods

Redwood trees are one of the most iconic symbols of California. Towering Coast Redwoods grow to be the tallest trees in the world, and Giant Sequoias of the Sierra Nevada are the most massive. They live longer than almost any other organisms on earth. Redwoods grow in forest communities that instill feelings of awe and inspiration to people who make their pilgrimage from all across the globe to see them. Yet during the late 1800s and early 1900s these forests were being heavily logged and in great danger of being destroyed forever. Today only a very small percentage of the original “first growth” coast redwood forest remains. Although many concerned people and organizations have worked to save these world treasures, the Save-the-Redwoods League was — and still is — a leader in efforts to protect and restore these forests.

The Save-the-Redwoods League was formed in 1918 in response to the uncontrolled logging of the coastal redwoods. Since that time the League has worked to purchase 181,000 acres of redwood forest to be preserved in 59 parks and preserves. They have been a key player in the restoration of damaged redwood forests, and provide grants to fund redwood research.
In addition to this, the Save-the-Redwoods League works to develop high quality educational resources for teachers and environmental education providers. All of the resources are free and fully accessible from their website: Among these resources are:
• Redwood Education grants, available in April, due in June. 230 grants have been given since 2000.
• The Redwood Teacher Tool Kit – includes downloadable fact sheets, reading lists, and information pages.
• Redwood Ed – a guide to Coast Redwoods, with downloadable chapters of background information, field trip ideas, activities, and more.
• The Redwood Transect Activity – an online interactive game for children.
• More resources are coming soon that will feature the Giant Sequoias.

I hope you take a few minutes to visit the website and enjoy all these available resources. Better yet, I hope you can visit a redwood tree or forest in the near future and experience their beauty and serenity for yourself!

-Wendy Harrison, CREEC Coordinator Region 6