2022 Cereus Reports


In 1998, a generous individual contacted Trees Foundation with the desire to support local grassroots environmental activism. Shortly thereafter, the Cereus Fund of Trees Foundation was created. Her desire was to give annually, not only to Trees Foundation, but also to our many Partner groups.

For 23 years, with direct input of the Cereus Funder, Trees Foundation has granted around one million dollars to our Partner groups. This has helped them to protect the wildlife, forests, and rivers, as well as begin the arduous task of restoring them throughout the redwood region and beyond.

Additionally, the Cereus Fund donated to Trees Foundation, helping us to stay in business so that we could continue to support over 40 Partner groups over the years.

Earlier this year, our beloved donor passed away. We are so very grateful to her for her generous support of the wildlife, forests, and rivers all of these many years.

We are also grateful for an endowment she has left Trees Foundation. We will be researching the best way for us to continue her legacy over the coming months.

As we grieve her passing, we look to the future with hope, for it is true, one person can indeed make a difference.

The following pages highlight some of the work supported by the Cereus Fund’s dedication and generosity in 2022. To learn more about any of these projects or groups, please visit ww.treesfoundation.org/partner-groups/

The Cereus Fund takes its name from the spectacular night-blooming cactus known as the cereus, Queen of the Night, and Peniocereus greggii. The cactus blossoms for one night only. It is a rare image of nature’s magnificence, and fortunately for all of us on the North Coast, our “cereus” has bloomed many times in the form of much-needed funding. Thank you to the Cereus Fund for helping our projects “flower” and come to fruition!
photo by Susy Barsotti, Trees Foundation’s Board President

Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters

As is our mission and work, the Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters (BACH) collaborates with North Coast activists working on forest, habitat, sovereignty, and climate issues. We broadcast news, information, photos, and interview opportunities to our media contacts, activist networks, and the wider Bay Area public—all as we help grow critical campaigns for species and habitat, in partnership with our dedicated allies. Our campaign support has been supported generously by the Cereus Fund. The Cereus Fund has always recognized the value of grassroots campaigns, and for that we at BACH are so very grateful.

While keeping an eye and an ear to the ground on a multitude of issues percolating in the area to the north of us, much of our energy this year was focused on Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JSF). BACH is privileged to be working on behalf of and within a well-engaged coalition of groups and individuals bringing a cross-section of skills and knowledge to the table. The Coalition to Save Jackson is a broad coalition—from long-time agency-watchers to high school climate activists to elders from the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians.

Standing up for Jackson State Forest
photo by Karen Pickett

Our multi-faceted campaign aims to change the state’s mandate from commercial logging to preservation, in recognition of its role in carbon storage in the face of climate crisis; and achieve co-management with Native Pomo people, in recognition of the forest as their ancestral homeland.

Please sign this petition to show your support: tinyurl.com/SaveJackson

The long-running campaign has come to a head with recent announcements from CAL FIRE that it plans to return to the forest with chainsaws, rather than return to the table with an open mind toward promised co-management in JSF, a re-worked Management Plan, and a new mandate for this publicly owned forest. Yet the Coalition’s steadfast organizations and individuals have already laid the groundwork for a strong response to CAL FIRE’s upending of the negotiating table. That the agency would turn tail on its language about pausing logging until there is an agreement with the Tribe, as promised, is beyond outrageous. Key to any agreement is protection of sacred sites, and there are sacred sites within THPs that CAL FIRE now intends to restart. [For more, see page 34]

As folks in the Bay Area tiptoe toward social normal, opportunities have recently arisen for BACH volunteers to have a presence at public gatherings with our Jackson Forest fact sheets, postcards, and sign-up sheets. We continue to build targeted media lists, and we have cultivated and nurtured a number of relationships at Bay Area media, particularly at 59,000-watt Pacifica KPFA radio, certainly one of the most valued and far-reaching outlets with a progressive audience. We are finally seeing familiarity with the issue manifest. Other colleague organizations that BACH has worked with for years are now part of an effective springboard onto Twitter feeds, podcasts, and listservs. Onward!

“We want to honor the donor’s wishes to empower small groups of passionate people to do extraordinary things. Her priorities were the protection of wildlife, their habitats, and ancient forests.”

—Barbara Ristow, Trees Foundation

Friends of the Lost Coast

Friends of the Lost Coast (FOLC) would like to thank Trees Foundation’s Cereus Fund for their years of support! In 2022, FOLC was awarded a $2,000 grant for increased staff time to enhance our social media presence and administrative duties in support of our outreach efforts.

In the time since receiving this grant, our online profile and user engagement have increased significantly. We’ve grown our presence and reach month after month, nearly doubling our Facebook “likes” since the start of 2022 and seeing a nearly 10-fold growth with our new Instagram account. We also greatly expanded the diversity of our posting topics, boosted the quality and use of our photographic and video assets, and increased our recognition of and support for BLM King Range and other partner organizations.

A screen shot of some of the Social Media that the Cereus Fund helped to get started for FOLC

Most importantly, we amplified the promotion and online visibility of our own programs, including an epic six-week run of photos and stories from Summer Adventure Camp. Many posts highlighted the cool lessons and creative projects that our Lost Coast Environmental Education Resource offers to local classrooms and via field trips; a promotional splash for the annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival; fun photo/video reels from Earth Day and National Public Lands Day; and colorful follow-up reports from our summer hikes and public interface events like Trailhead Hosts’ volunteer service days in Shelter Cove, recognizing the impact of our invasive-species removal efforts and Trail Steward outings. We also used social media as a portal for viewing our Zoom lecture series and to showcase an incredible variety of offerings at the Lost Coast Education Center and Native Plant Garden in Whitethorn.

To achieve these ends, we built on the financial support received from the Cereus grant in 2021 to overhaul and upgrade our website, lostcoast.org, utilizing 2022’s award to primarily support our growing social media needs. These funds paid for approximately 1.5 hours of additional staff time per week for Environmental Education Coordinator Taylor Faye Benedict to manage our social media accounts, plus a small amount of time for Administrative Coordinator Justin Crellin to support this work and keep the website current.

Taylor Faye’s social media duties include management of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter; graphics, video, and photo projects; plus other tasks related to our social media campaigns.

In reflection, it is amazing to see the impact this $2,000 grant made possible. Thanks again to Cereus Fund and Trees Foundation for their multi-year support of Friends of the Lost Coast!

Friends of the Van Duzen River

Friends of the Van River (FOVDR) is grateful for to have been a multi-year recipient of Trees Foundation’s Cereus grant and the opportunity these funds provided to work with K–8 students in the Eel River Valley. Biology is the study of life, and FOVDR actively teaches respect for the natural world with trips to the Sequoia Zoo, the Scotia Aquarium, and fish release events in the Mad River, for example. With an emphasis on plants, salmon, and water quality, we combine classroom lessons with water-monitoring field studies of the Eel, Van Duzen, and Mad rivers. 2022 was a remarkable winter and spring working with five elementary schools: Scotia, Hydesville, Bridgeville, Loleta, and Trillium Charter. 

One of our most effective teaching techniques was developed by a fellow FOVDR member, Barbara Domanchuk, combining art and nature. Ecology and the Arts allows students to connect the powers of observation, a key science technique, with their own inner nature through drawings, poetry, and movement. Our two books of student poetry, Van Duzen Voice and Eel River Expressions, can be found and purchased on our website, www.fovd.org

Steelhead illustration by 1st grader in Kurt Ramsmussen’s Loleta class
photo by Sal Steinberg

Movement is vital to life for all living things! At Bridgeville School and Loleta School we developed the Salmon Dance, Be the Fish!!! (For viewing, go to the top-left section of our website, www.fovd.org.) 

In Katie Dunn’s 3rd to 5th-grade class at Trillium Charter School, we added poetry to salmon drawings. Here was an excellent acrostic:


In Kurt Rasmussen’s 1st-grade class we did leaf prints and salmon drawings. Special thanks to Abbie Perrott, art instructor, and Luz Espinosa, teacher assistant, for their guidance and encouragement. Several years ago, Kurt’s class did an ink project with salmon, and this was used as a backdrop to our finished pictures this year. Students also studied leaves that I brought from the redwood forest and others found on the Loleta campus. A good time was had by all! 

FOVDR is dedicated to preserving the salmon run and to training young scientists. In Emily Parshall’s 3rd-grade Loleta class, we helped to manage the salmon tank and participated in the fish release at Mad River. It was wonderful to see students observe the salmon growth. Students were attracted to and adopted individual salmon fry. We also carried out water monitoring/testing of the
Mad River.

Mrs. Riggs Hydesville 3/4th grade class explore and draw trillium in the Redwood forest.
photo by Sal Steinberg

Last spring, Rachel Rigg’s 3rd-grade class observed and did an intensive study of the magnificent trillium plant that take seven years to blossom. For me, living in the redwoods during the spring trillium season is one of the major highlights of the year. I am always glad to share the magic of nature with local students living and studying along the Van Duzen River Basin. Watching the students in the woods walking on the back trails by my Carlotta house, observing the beauty of the trillium, and watching them manifest remarkable drawings was a highlight of the 2022 school year.

With Rachel’s class I was invited to participate in Barbara Domanchuk’s Save the Redwoods project at Pamplin Grove old-growth park. Here we were able to identify and study leaf structure. We also learned to measure the height of a redwood tree. It was an exciting time!

Students become scientists when they study the rivers with monitoring equipment like turbidimeters, pH meters, and temperature and oxygen probes. Data collection goes a long way to determining the health of our rivers. With Mark McCuen’s 6th-grade class, Scotia students added the study of macroinvertebrates and flow at the Eel River in Scotia. With Heather Nyberg’s 5th/6th grade class, we studied the Eel River at Worwick toward Ferndale. We were joined by young scientists from the Fortuna Creeks Project, a nationally renowned high school project led by Mark Thom and Gloria Valdez. 

2022 proved to be a banner year for the Friends of the Van Duzen River, working with five schools exploring the natural world and gaining appreciation for Mother Earth.

Humboldt Baykeeper

Explore the Bay / Explore la Bahía is Humboldt Baykeeper’s bilingual outreach program that provides fun, safe, educational access to Humboldt Bay for a variety of community groups while promoting awareness of the bay’s wildlife, its history, and current environmental issues.

Each year between April and October, we offer free motorboat tours aboard the historic M/V Madaket for people of all ages and abilities in partnership with a variety of organizations, including Centro del Pueblo, Humboldt Asian and Pacific Islanders, and English Express, the non-profit English as a Second Language (ESL) school with campuses in Eureka, Redway, and Fortuna. Members of Cal Poly Humboldt’s Indian Natural Resources, Science, and Engineering Program joined us on a kayak trip across the bay led by HumBoats and featuring a visit to Hog Island Oyster Company’s new farm in North Bay.

Humboldt Baykeeper chartered the Madaket for a bay tour for Humboldt Asian and Pacific Islanders.
photo courtesy Humboldt BayKeeper

These tours include many participants who have lived near the bay for years but have never been on the water. With 20% of the City of Eureka’s population living below the poverty level, many residents simply cannot afford the equipment and maintenance costs associated with boating and other water sports.

We at Humboldt Baykeeper believe that Humboldt Bay is a public resource that should be accessible to everyone in Humboldt County, not just those with the financial resources to do so. To this end, we are grateful for financial support from Trees Foundation’s Cereus Fund and the California Coastal Commission’s Whale Tail grant program for underwriting the 2022 tours.

“Clearly [the anonymous Cereus funder] was a champion for protecting the planet and our communities, and helping to support small NGOs working to make a difference for current and future generations. She supported our work for many years and we are truly grateful.”

—Jen Kalt, Humboldt Baykeeper

Mid Klamath Watershed Council

Each summer, the Mid Klamath Watershed Council brings youth from the region to participate in a week-long overnight adventure: the Klamath–Siskiyou Outdoor School. This year we involved 20 youth, ages 12–15, from the rural towns along the Klamath River to participate in rafting, backpacking, team building, and outdoor learning activities.

We kicked off the week with a rafting trip with local guides from Klamath River Outfitters. We broke the ice by playing rafting bingo, where each boat searches for plants, animals, and river features in an effort to get five squares down, across, or diagonally. While the disappointment is palpable when you hear another boat holler “bingo!” before the others, the hope for a “blackout” (when every item is spotted on the grid) keeps the competition alive throughout the entire river journey. We stopped for lunch at the cool waters of Rock Creek, and the kids donned masks and snorkels to practice fish identification and help improve juvenile fish passage at the creek mouth.

Some of the KSOS youth participants enjoying the sunset by the lake.
photo courtesy MKWC

After a day of sun and fun, we headed up the winding Salmon River Road to sleep in the Forks of Salmon. The next day we busily got ready for our backpacking journey. We outfitted everyone with backpacks, handed out headlamps, stuffed extra layers into packs, and doled out water filters, camping stoves, dehydrated meals, and all the essentials. We then ventured up higher into the mountains, camping first at Carter Meadows and then heading deeper into the wilderness for a three-day backpacking trip.

Throughout our time together, counselors and junior counselors led team building and outdoor learning activities and games, with the goal of increasing camaraderie, building self-confidence, nurturing friendships old and new, and increasing awareness of the natural processes around us. Youth participants learned about friction fire, wilderness medicine, shelter building, fishing, cooking, art, and so much more. Our time was divided between planned activities and unstructured time in the wilderness guided by the kids and their own curiosities.

This was the first full Klamath–Siskiyou Outdoor School we have offered since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and the energy of the youth participants reverberated throughout the forest. Feedback from youth and parents was positive and constructive, and we look forward to building on these experiences in future KSOS adventures.

The Cereus Fund of Trees Foundation specifically supported one counselor stipend and three junior counselor stipends. Thank you!

Mattole Restoration Council

The Cereus Fund of Trees Foundation has given critical support to the Mattole Restoration Council (MRC) for years, helping safeguard the forests of the Mattole watershed and beyond. It has been an honor to be a recipient of the Cereus Fund for so many years.

With Cereus funds in 2022, the MRC’s Forest Practices Program tracked the few proposed timber harvest plans in the Mattole watershed and was witness to the continued destructive aftermath from the many contractors under Pacific Gas & Electric Company’s line-clearing projects. There have been several efforts to stop the onslaught of the so-called Enhanced Vegetative Management under lines, which disregards sensitive habitats and landowner concerns. Petitions and letters have conspired to change some things. PG&E is now planning on undergrounding lines in the Willow Creek area, for example. Contractors are told to be more open to landowner concerns. A threat of herbicide under lines has since been dialed back to “only if the landowner opts in.” It is very important if you have PG&E lines running across your land to be proactive by informing the utility company of what you will not accept.

The Ring of Fire Biochar Kiln in action: clean-burning, sequesters carbon.
photo courtesy MRC

Some residents took the path of filing a formal complaint, complete with their signed agreements and post-work photos. Here is an email quote from a resident in Petrolia we received in October:

“I filed a formal complaint in February about the fire risk from what they left in Fall 2021. I was assigned a Veg Manager, Jonathan Lockwood, in May and after continual phone calls and emails with key words: Defensible Space and Hazardous Fuels, a company named Greentek came from the Bay Area last week with a crew of four, and trucks, fallers, and a skid steer, they cleaned it ALL in 2 days.”
A regional person to contact is Eric Haggerty: [email protected]

Biochar-eating Sheep and Goats

Continuing with upbeat news, MRC purchased our first biochar kiln at a discount from Kelpie Wilson: wilsonbiochar.com. It is called the Ring of Fire Biochar Kiln, which is her trademark for a remarkable stainless-steel kit that fits into the bed of a small pickup for ease of transport. With grant monies from the Cereus Fund, we advertised and held our first biochar kiln workshop in the spring of 2022. It is really a highly effective and safe way to burn material around homesteads and in the forest while capturing the carbon and not releasing toxic particulates. It burns clean and efficiently. You just need a flat place, a water source, a rake, and some eager people. The funny thing about this first-time kiln use was that the landowners also run sheep and goats. Though they had planned on transporting the biochar to the garden, the livestock ate it all! According to a quick Google search, research shows that biochar improves livestock health by absorbing toxins, increasing nutrient intake, and helping with digestion. But it is also great for veggies and flowers in the garden! One of the reasons that the MRC was interested in a biochar kiln (other than for homestead use) was to understand its applicability when doing forest health treatments. Being near a usable water source is the challenge, but we hope to try it.

Another very positive activity has been working on preparing our Lower Mattole communities for wildfire. We had a well-attended meeting in April that coalesced a lot of volunteer energy to raise money for an alternative emergency communication system that would work with our Neighborhood Emergency Service Teams. The idea is to account for your neighbors during a large wildfire or earthquake. The community raised more than $7,000 for this effort.

Many thanks again to the Cereus Fund for helping to protect forests, find alternatives to burning, and support wildfire preparedness. We express our condolences on the loss of the Cereus Funder.

“We wouldn’t be in business if it weren’t for the Cereus Fund. That kind of generosity
is so moving.”

—Jeri Fergus, Trees Foundation

Mattole Salmon Group

In 2022, with financial support from the Cereus Fund of Trees Foundation, the Mattole Salmon Group hosted our 26th annual Summer Steelhead Dive. This event joins community members and fish enthusiasts to census the length of the Mattole River in search of the elusive summer-run steelhead. This year 38 volunteers donated over 500 hours to snorkel-survey more than 55 miles of stream in just two days.

The Mattole and Eel Rivers host the southernmost summer-run steelhead populations in the world. Summer steelhead populations are dangerously susceptible to the effects of climate change due to their reliance on cool refugia during the summer. These fish take refuge in deep, cold pools through the hottest and driest months of the year. As fall rains arrive and rivers rise, summer-run steelhead will be the first anadromous fish to spawn. There were only seven adults observed in 2022, tying 2019 for the lowest counts of Mattole summer steelhead since 1995. The average count over 26 years of surveys is 22 fish, with a high count of 56 individuals in 2013. In contrast, the population estimate for the much more numerous winter-run steelhead in the Mattole watershed is between 2,000 and 5,000 adults returning to spawn annually.

Snorkelers move carefully through a boulder-filled reach of the Bear Creek canyon, checking deep pools and undercut banks for large fish.
photo courtesy MSG

There were more encouraging observations from this summer’s survey. Water temperatures were cooler than average for early July, allowing the abundant juvenile steelhead observed by divers the ability to actively feed throughout the river. In warmer, drier summers such as 2021, by early July steelhead parr in the mainstem Mattole are primarily restricted to thermal refugia during the day, only dispersing for prime feeding opportunities at night. Abundant new willow and alder growth was also apparent throughout the river, indicating that the last few dry winters have allowed riparian vegetation to become established, without being scoured away by winter flows, on many gravel bars that five years ago were barren. While an epic flood could wipe these young thickets away, they are already having a positive impact on the river, resulting in the development of more cool-water alcoves and more channel meandering.

Cereus funding also supported Mattole Salmon Group surveyors snorkeling 766 pools in smaller streams counting juvenile coho salmon; and it allowed MSG staff to spend two days with five teenagers enrolled in the Nick’s Interns program, working on instream structures in a small Mattole tributary and learning the basics of snorkeling and fish identification. Thank you Cereus and Trees Foundation!

Salmon River Restoration Council

This year was the Salmon River Restoration Council’s 30th anniversary. We marked the occasion with our first big in-person event since the pandemic began, bringing together people from our local and restoration communities with food and music, in a joyful celebration of this place and the people who’ve dedicated their lives to it.

Empowering our river communities to become dedicated stewards of the places they love has been a main tenet of the SRRC since its inception. Our Community Restoration Program is built around the belief that actively engaging our community, from youth to elders, in experiential learning and hands-on restoration of the landscape builds a stewardship ethic and sense of place that will sustain this watershed into the future. In addition to encouraging community members to get their hands dirty and their feet wet by doing things like digging out noxious weeds and counting fish. We try to provide high-quality education, outreach products, and experiences, and also invite community members to share their own expertise.

The Scott River Youth Environmental Summer Studies crew joined SRRC for a week of improving fish passage into tributaries and doing manual noxious-weed removal.
photo from SRRC collection

In 2022, we published a newsletter entitled River on Fire: Impacts and Adaptations in a Fire-Prone Landscape. It’s full of great articles about our complicated relationship to fire and how we live with and manage it. You can read the newsletter online at srrc.org/publications. We also reach our community and the greater public through our monthly e-newsletter, Salmon River Currents, which this year included topics such as native plant and seed collection, the status of spring-run Chinook, and success stories from our fisheries habitat-restoration projects.

A portion of our funding from the Cereus Fund of Trees Foundation was used to help implement our Community Restoration Program workdays and educational events. This year we held more than 35 workdays and workshops that the community was invited to participate in. These events included road clean-ups, noxious weed management (without the use of toxic chemicals), fisheries monitoring and restoration, water monitoring and watershed education, and more. Highlights were our annual Salmon River Spring Chinook Dive, a bird ID walk with representatives of the Klamath Bird Observatory, and a hand tool restoration training with a long-time USFS trail crew boss. Events such as these help to increase knowledge and cooperation among diverse stakeholders, while getting community members out into the environment actively participating in ecosystem conservation and restoration.

Support from generous advocates such as the Cereus Fund of Trees Foundation goes a long way toward making this important work possible. It provides the foundation for accomplishing on-the-ground community restoration work that has been and will continue to be one of our overall goals.

Salmonid Restoration Federation

Trees Foundation’s Cereus grant helped Salmonid Restoration Federation (SRF) track, research, and submit public comments regarding the Nordic AquaFarms’ proposed Samoa land-based aquaculture project on the Samoa Peninsula near Eureka. Initially, SRF’s work focused on participating in Nordic AquaFarms’ community outreach meetings (called “office hours”) and initiating discussions regarding
potential fish diseases resulting from farmed salmon and toxicants in commercial fish feed.

Since our last report, Nordic AquaFarms confirmed that the company would be raising Atlantic salmon, so we are particularly concerned about viral escapement and the risks associated with discharge and effluent in land-based aquaculture operations. During public meetings and in SRF’s public comments, we expressed our concern about the proposed operation’s toxicity, discharge, effluent, and carbon footprint. Please see our public comments submitted in the last year regarding this proposed project.

Links of interest:

SRF Comments to Humboldt County Planning Department in response to the Nordic Aquafarms DRAFT EIR: https://www.calsalmon.org/sites/default/files/documents/files/SRF_comment_letter_NAF_2.17.22.pdf

SRF Appeal of the EIR decision to the Coastal Commission: https://www.calsalmon.org/sites/default/files/documents/files/SRF_CalCoComm_Appeal_on_Nordic.docx.pdf


Nordic AquaFarms Salmon Feed Sourcing Information Graphic: https://www.calsalmon.org/sites/default/files/documents/files/Fish_Food_Graphic.pdf

Nordic AquaFarms Water Quality Primer: https://www.calsalmon.org/sites/default/files/documents/files/NAF_Water_Quality_primer.pdf

Salmon Protection Watershed Network

With the support of the Cereus Fund of Trees Foundation, Salmon Protection Watershed Network (SPAWN) was able to continue its Residential Internship Program in 2022 and provide meaningful, hands-on restoration experience to recent college graduates. Over the grant period, SPAWN recruited, trained, and mentored eight recent college graduates who might not have otherwise been able to afford to participate in this career-building opportunity. The SPAWN interns received a frontline educational experience in salmon conservation and watershed stewardship as they developed the necessary skills to advance their careers in biology and watershed ecology.

At SPAWN’s recently-completed Roy’s dam removal site at the former San Geronimo golf course, Interns collect data on stream invertebrates.
photo by Ayano Hayes

Throughout the grant term, interns played a crucial role in achieving our mission to address significant threats to endangered salmon in the Lagunitas Creek watershed. Under the direction of our restoration biologists, the SPAWN interns participated in restoration projects on National Park Service land as well as former commercial land, by placing in-field irrigation to promote increased survival rates of the salmonids. Additionally, the interns worked in our native plant nursery, where they gained hands-on experience in propagating native plants and hosting school engagement events in which they demonstrated proper plant care to local children. The interns were an important part of our research and monitoring efforts, testing water quality, documenting riparian habitat diversity, and conducting salmonid counts to monitor the overall health and vitality of the watershed.

As advocacy and litigation continued this year, the interns had the opportunity to participate in organizing grassroots campaigns and testifying in public hearings. In fact, the interns played a key role giving public comments during a hearing to secure the passage of the Stream Conservation Area Ordinance, which establishes critical protection of the habitats of coho salmon and steelhead trout. (See related article, page 14.)

Financial support from the Cereus Fund of Trees Foundation allowed us to provide stipends to our interns, increasing our capacity to recruit and retain interns. This support was vital to the overall success of our residential internship program this year and had a direct impact on inspiring and training the next generation of conservationists.

Sanctuary Forest

Special thanks to the Cereus Fund of Trees Foundation, which for over a decade has supported Sanctuary Forest, Inc. (SFI) and has helped us achieve our collaboration efforts to develop, maintain, and strengthen formal partnerships with other conservation groups and agencies, and build relationships with our community, to better achieve our shared conservation goals. Notably, SFI has been in position to implement many projects to protect and restore the health of the Mattole River watershed in large part because of its partnership with the Mattole Restoration Council (MRC) and Mattole Salmon Group (MSG). Known collectively as the Mattole River and Range Partnership (MRRP), these non-profit groups have worked together to improve forest and stream health for threatened salmonids and wildlife, while striving to engage and empower residents of our community to unite in a shared goal to develop solutions to water scarcity and land use impacts.

In 2009, the “Mattole Integrated Coastal Watershed Management Plan – foresight 2020” (hereafter referred to as the Plan) was created to guide the MRRP’s overarching conservation and restoration goals. Intended to serve as a 10-year guide, MRRP partners are committed to assess accomplishments and shortfalls of the previous ten-year plan and go forward with an updated plan for the next ten years and beyond. The Cereus Fund of Trees Foundation provided funding to update the Plan along with other funds from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation and the McLean Foundation. While there are many steps to updating the 190-page Plan, this combined funding has enabled us to start with the initial task of outreach and communication with our community. A community survey was included in the 2022 edition of the Mattole Watershed News and sent to all landowners in the Mattole. This survey mirrored a survey that was conducted in 2009 and asked residents of the Mattole to provide their input on priority issues and challenges, and the goals and strategies to address them. Survey responses are being compiled and the next steps going forward will be centered around more community input. A cornerstone of the past, present, and future has been and will always be our cooperative emphasis on working with local residents and those who interact with the Mattole watershed. MRRP partners are working with Trees Foundation to organize and host community meetings throughout the watershed to listen to the needs of the people and help guide our efforts to restore balance to the Mattole River watershed.

Women’s Forest Sanctuary

The Women’s Forest Sanctuary (WFS) is grateful for life-giving exchanges with the forest and our forest allies. Our care of the Sacred Grove in 2022 involved heightened attention to balancing land conservation with human access to the land.

In June, a fallen tanoak crushed the footbridge over Raven’s Creek. The loss of the bridge revealed logs buried in the creek bed as part of an old “Humboldt crossing” for logging access. (This involved logs placed directly in the creek bed and covering them with dirt.) While neighbors readily offered to rebuild the bridge, we spent months discerning whether the bridge aligned with care for the land. We ultimately decided to rebuild the bridge.

Being nourished by forest, friends, and food.
photo courtesy WFS

Our 2022 annual community gathering in the grove included the co-directors of Friends of the Lost Coast Summer Adventure Camp. Earlier in the summer, they brought children to the grove. We delighted in their stories about how the children explored and learned respect for the forest.

While camping on the land, we received messages of guidance from the trees, such as: “The intelligence of the heart is strong and subtle. Listen closely. Humanity and the Earth are awakening to a much greater truth; all that is not essential is being composted.” During a ceremony beneath the Grandmother trees, we remembered the lives of loved ones who have passed and felt a timeless unity with their essence.

In 2023, we will hold a ceremony on the land acknowledging grief for the loss of old-growth redwood forests, and gratitude for tenacious efforts of local forest-preservation activists. This ritual will recognize the destructive impact of systems of domination on Earth and people, and the fervent movement to safeguard our biodiversity.

This year we drafted a land acknowledgment respecting our presence on Sinkyu-ne (Sinkyone) ancestral territory. We are exploring ways to connect with the local Indigenous community. In October we honored WFS’s genesis in 1993; our founders shared what called them to preserve the land. Historian Joan Marler spoke about archaeologist Marija Gimbutas, highlighting the sacred living world and women protectors of sacred groves of Old Europe.

WFS facilitated an outing to Redwood Regional Park with Youth Spirit Artworks (YSA). One participant said, “In the redwood forest I connected with my truest self, freed my mind, and felt ecstatic being with nature.” WFS supported YSA’s Tiny House Empowerment Village to receive a grant from Save the Redwoods League, which the youth used to initiate and enjoy redwood forest outings.

We thank the Cereus Fund of Trees Foundation for supporting diverse organizations to effectively restore California’s North Coast environment.