Redwood Log

Summer 2013

Mia's Muirly Musings

On August 25 we celebrate the National Park Service’s Birthday, Founders’ Day. This is close to the Muir Woods heartwood thanks to our profound connection to founders Kent and Muir. What a proud legacy to be the gift of the philanthropic Kent Family, inspired by John Muir AND you all are the living legacy of that caring stewardship. Thank you!

Busy times in Redwood Canyon ! We’ll soon be winding up a very busy tourist season: filling up those shuttle buses (nearly 20% of visitors now use them, what a difference!) and swearing in lots of new jr rangers! We also are proud to announce that there are two new baby spotted owls in our corner of the world despite the continuing dominance of the aggressive and recently arrived barred owl (learn more on one of our evening programs!), the otter family and merganser flock find homes here, too! Ladybug clusters are building and already there’s sign of fall color (easy to spot the red leaves of poison oak!). We soon will plan a season full of special programs to learn more about this natural splendor including Founders Day on August 25 (come walk with John Muir!) Welcome Back Salmon on December 1, Walk in Rachel Carson’s Path (October 24-25) and Fee Free Days in Sept and Nov PLUS Winter Solstice!

Park work is underway everywhere, too! State parks will have crews on Bootjack (including a significant closure) and Ocean View Trails while on the monument floor the final piece of boardwalk/decking will be completed this fall/winter at the Pinchot Tree (foot of Ocean View Trail). Have you checked out the sensitive work atMountain Theater, the re-instatement of a campground to complement the Bootjack Picnic Area, work on the Fern Creek Trail AND the new fountain on Dipsea? Awesome! County crews will tackle the slide on upper Muir Woods Road in late August – September. In Muir Woods the lower restroom will be upgraded. We ARE looking for ways to settle-down the dust in the plaza, too. Yes, we’re busy!

And, the significant work continues at Muir Beach. The wetlands and floodplain are being restored, a healthy dune field returns, frogs have found their new ponds and, when open, there will be a better located and designed parking lot, vault toilets and a picnic area with a stunning ocean view PLUS an incredible bridge to allow you to sensitively travel through this newly recovering habitat! Meanwhile, Muir Beach remains closed (through the end of November) so all this can happen! Check our website for updates and access, opening date and the behind-the-scenes stories.

Park interpreters have even fit training into the week: CPR, Verbal Victories and attendance at a Climate Change in the Redwoods symposium! We soon will tackle a make-over of the Jr ranger program, better ways to reach youth and more effective outreach.

Wonder why you feel so good after some time at Muir Woods? Possibly it could be the result of what the Japanese call “shinrin-yoku” or forest bathing…a practice that involves walking through a forest and breathing in the moist earthy air. Not only is stress and blood pressure reduced but also this activity increases the immune system’s cancer-fighting cells ! Researchers attribute this to forest aromatherapy – that is , breathing in phytoncides (essential oils) produced by plants and trees to fight off insects and rot. Another great reason to “go for a walk and stay all day” to paraphrase John Muir !

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Welcome Aracely Montero to the Muir Woods Team

Hi everyone! My name is Aracely Montero and I am the new Education Coordinator at Muir Woods National Monument! In the past, I’ve worked at GGNRA as an Education Intern, but recently I completed a season at Everglades National Park as an Education Ranger! This year we are also welcoming, Education Intern, Joey Wong! He will be joining us in October.

Soon, you will see both of us walking through the woods with a trail of 3rd and 4th grade students participating in the “Into the Redwood Forest” education program. The “Into the Redwood Forest” curriculum is being modified this school year. We are including more cultural history and connecting the program more precisely to the CA Common Core Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. I am excited to share the new program with everyone very soon! If you have any questions about the program or you are interested in joining a program, please feel free to email me or ask me in person! Joey and I would be delighted to have you join us! Come with a smile and ready to do some inquisitive thinking!

Parks Conservancy News: By Alison Campbell

Personnel news

Tina Huie resigned in February. We were pleased to promote Rob Hockenos to a Lead VSR position and to hire seasonal employees Eric Barkow, Jen Garcia, and Andrew Rowlands.

Shuttle fare collection

This summer for the first time we have collected the Muir Woods Shuttle fares at the visitor center. Thanks to all who have helped make this such a successful program for staff and visitors alike!

Upcoming events

  • Saturday 9/28: National Public Lands Day (fee free)

  • Tuesday 10/1: Inventory (fee free/VC closed most of the day)

  • Saturday 11/9-Monday 11/11: Veterans Day Weekend (fee free)

New titles

New natural history titles include Wildlife Watching in America’s National Parks: A Seasonal Guide, Bay Area Birds From Sonoma County to Monterey Bay by David Lukas, and The Natural Navigator: The Rediscovered Art of Letting Nature Be Your Guide.

New cultural history titles include To Conserve Unimpaired: The Evolution of the National Park Idea, Art of the National Parks: Historic Connections, Contemporary Interpretations, An Island in Time: 50 Years of Point Reyes National Seashore, and Quotations of Theodore Roosevelt.

We have notecards, journals, and other stationery items, many new books and other items for children, and 2014 calendars. Holiday cards will arrive soon.

Park volunteers and Parks Conservancy members receive a 15% discount on all visitor center purchases. Proceeds benefit the park.

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Welcome Michelle Armijo New Seasonal

Hello my name is Michelle Armijo, I’ve recently joined the Muir Woods team and I’m very excited to meet all of the dedicated volunteers that have helped visitors have the best experience possible. I wanted to share a photo (see Below) by Anthony Luayon, one of our park visitors. Anthony named the photo Planet Muir. I’m sure many of you have been taking some amazing photos this summer. Well here’s your chance to share those photos. I strongly encourage all of you to take a look at the Official Federal Recreation Lands 2013 Photo Contest at to learn more about the contest. Your amazing imagines could be the next one placed on our America the Beautiful Annual Pass. Please see the website for all of the rules and entry information. The photo contest is being sponsored by the National Park Foundation, Active Network and Air Wick. The Grand Prize 1st place winner will receive $15,000, 2nd place winner will receive $5,000 and the 3rd place winner will receive $2,500 all sponsored by Air Wick. The winning prize packages will include an America the Beautiful Annual Pass as well as Air Wick National Park Collection, scents inspired by our National Parks. Honorable Mention prizes will be sponsored by Historic Hotels of America. The winners will also receive a 2 night hotel stay from Historic Hotels. So how could you pass on such an exciting opportunity to share your photos and have your house smell like a National Park! I hope to see some of your photos posted!! Thanks Michelle

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A-Foresting We Will Go: A History of Trees in San Francisco

By Evelyn Rose, Muir Woods Docent

Part I: Peninsular Natives

San Francisco, Tree City, USA. That's the official designation awarded by the Arbor Day Foundation in 2008. Tramp along any City block today, it's easy to see why: San Francisco has an impressive amount of greenery. The Urban Forest Map of San Francisco, an open-source website supported by CalFire, Friends of the Urban Forest, the San Francisco Department of Public Works, and the San Francisco Department of Environment, documents more than 88,000 street trees distributed throughout the City's 47-square miles. A 2013 report of street trees in selected neighborhoods for the San Francisco Planning Department estimates upwards of 105,000. Plus, there are likely thousands of additional trees on the properties of private residences.

The City also abounds with groves and forests: a small coast redwood grove adjacent to the Transamerica Pyramid (600 Montgomery Street); a stately forest behind the campus of the University of California, San Francisco (505 Parnassus Avenue); trees in the Presidio aligned in rows as if ready to march off to war (Presidio Boulevard entrance); and from a bird's eye view, a swath of green fills the rectangular space of Golden Gate Park, supporting 170 different types of trees (bordered primarily by Lincoln Way, Fulton Street, Stanyon Street, and the Great Highway).

Trees are a good thing, for without these photosynthesizers we could not support our aerobic lifestyle. Trees and other plants comprise a giant sink that helps reduce carbon dioxide (CO2), the most prevalent greenhouse gas produced by human activities … including breathing – we exhale CO2. Plants absorb light energy and CO2 to produce sugars for energy and, in the process, release oxygen as a by-product that we can then breathe in. The street trees of San Francisco alone are estimated to reduce CO2 by nearly 27 million pounds annually and, while impressive, just a drop in the bucket compared to the 5,600 million metric tons of CO2 produced by the United States alone in 2011.

Muir Woods National Monument, at the foot of Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County, is a protected forest of virgin coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), a species that can live beyond 2,000 years of age. The Bicentennial Tree in Muir Woods, a "toddler" by redwood standards, is known to be 237 years old, sprouting the same year our country was founded, and when the Spanish first established the Presidio and Mission Dolores in San Francisco (1776).

Today, San Francisco has such a robust urban forest that it seems implausible not a single living tree is as old as the Bicentennial Tree or the City herself. Yet, that may very well be the case. The recent street tree inventory used tree diameter in inches at breast height as a substitute measurement for age in years. The surprising result: only about one-third were considered to be "established" (ie, diameter at breast height of 9 to 24 inches). And, unlike neighboring Bay Area communities, San Francisco does not appear to have a listing of Heritage Trees, identifying those trees of a history, girth, height, species, or unique quality that would contribute special significance to our City.

However, there is an unofficial listing of Landmark trees for those "unusual trees that are rare in San Francisco."According to the recent tree survey, of the over 100,000 trees that line City streets, only about 0.1% are native to the San Francisco Bay region. Of those "rare" native species, Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa), Monterey pine(Pinus radiata), coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia), and coast redwood are the most abundant. All four species, along with a host of non-native trees, are represented in the Landmark trees list.

Which begs the question: What about that half-acre of coast redwood grove at the Transamerica Pyramid? These tree are not remnants of an old-growth forest of coast redwood, the tallest type of tree found anywhere in the world. The Pyramid and grove actually sit on landfill that was originally underwater in Yerba Buena Cove, just offshore from Montgomery Street. Designer Tom Galli transplanted about 50 coast redwoods from the Santa Cruz Mountains to create this pocket park in 1972.

The forest behind UCSF? One only needs to look at the bare summits of Twin Peaks or south to San Bruno Mountain to gain a sense of what the hills of San Francisco used to look like before Adolph Sutro would plant more than one million eucalyptus and conifers in the early 1880s.

The regimental lines of eucalyptus and Monterey cypress in the Presidio? When the Spanish landed, the Presidio was nothing more than hills, sand dunes, and coastal bluffs covered with grasses and scrub vegetation. A small number of native willows and oaks resided in the valleys of the future Army reservation. General Irvin McDowell, encouraged by Army engineer Major William A. Jones to regenerate the Presidio into a park-like setting, began planting trees in 1883. General Nelson Miles continued the beautification plan by planting 80,000 trees during the winter months of 1890. Landscape and forestry improvements of the Presidio would continue into the early 20th century, with a total of 450,000 trees planted.

Golden Gate Park? This 1,017-acre urban park, 175 acres larger than New York's Central Park and visited by 13 million people annually, was nothing more than undulating dunes of sand when Europeans first landed. By 1870, the greening of the dunes had begun, led by William Hammond Hall, Park Commissioner. By 1879, 155,000 trees, mostly Blue gum eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), Monterey cypress, and Monterey pine, had been planted.

So, by the dawn of the 20th century, hundreds of thousands of trees had been planted along the wind-swept dunes and chaparral hills of San Francisco. The puzzling conundrum: when comparing the pre-European landscape to modern times, did the northern San Francisco peninsula have trees?

Visit Tramps of San Francisco, a history website published by Evelyn Rose, to find out more!

Caption for image:

A view of the Old Seal Rock House across from the sand dunes, 1866, where the western end of Golden Gate Park is located today. Just beyond the ridge of dunes, hundreds of willow trees were reported to have grown along what we refer to today as the Chain of Lakes. Photograph courtesy of the San Francisco Public Library Historical Photograph Collection. Folder: S.F. Districts-Ocean Beach-Seal Rock House. Photo ID Number: AAC-0016.

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Muir Woods Shuttle Excitement

By Lucy Scott

Starting in 2005, the Muir Woods Shuttle had brought tens of thousands of visitors to Muir Woods. This year is the busiest year yet for our shuttle! The Conservancy estimates that the shuttle is bringing between 15 and 25% of our total visitation each weekend. More people than ever are riding it, saving themselves the hassle of finding a parking spot and doing their small part to cut down on gas consumption and engine pollution. With transportation being one of the leading causes of greenhouse gasses that are contributing to global climate change, we are thankful to every shuttle rider doing their part to help out. Next time you see someone in line for the shuttle in our parking lot, thank them!

Link below of Muir Woods Shuttle info....go check it out!

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VIP Anne Moore Saying Farwell

Since 2009, I have been a too irregular VIP at Muir Woods. With moving to Oregon, I will no longer be able to be a volunteer in my favorite National Monument. So many memories: Mia’s leadership; training by Joanne; learning so much from Lou, Tim, Lucy, Samantha and all the rangers, interns and Association staff; meeting people from all over the world; etc.

My favorite and most memorable day in the Woods was December 21, 2012. Not only was it my son’s birthday, but I had prepared and was to lead a Coho Salmon Walk for the Winter Solstice festivities. I had downloaded and laminated special exhibits and prepared and rehearsed a new non-Mini-Talk. As I was strolling on the east side of Redwood Creek just below Bridge 2 headed back to the entry arch, I heard sounds that were brand new for me in the Woods—the cracking noises of much splintering wood. I looked up and saw branches and needles quivering on a large redwood on the west side of the creek. Since I could not tell which way this large redwood was going to fall, I moved quickly back toward the bridge.

The experience of witnessing a redwood tree falling naturally was multi-sensual: first auditory, then visual and auditory, and lastly kinesthetic when the behemoth hit the ground and broke into pieces across the westside trail and up the slope. I yelled across the creek, “Is everyone OK?” and got a shouted reply from a few persons that no one was hurt. Lastly, there was the unmistakable smell of fresh cut redwood up close to the fallen no-longer Sequoia sempervirons (Latin for everliving). And the whole episode was recorded by a sound crew in the Woods that day!

As for the Salmon Walk, it happened on time with many interested persons asking all kinds of questions. They were delighted and I was relieved that the Coho performed right on schedule. A very tired female was in the shallows near the entrance, and we watched in awe as a mating pair did their version of the tango spawning next to Cathedral Grove.

VIP Anne Cronin Moore 2009-2013