2010 - 2015 by M. D. Vaden
This page covers why some large redwoods are not disclosed by rangers or other people. And why we did not give GPS coordinates for some Coast Redwoods, or reveal a location for the 2011 Tallest Pine Discovery. (also see Grove of Titans)
Regarding the rarest of redwoods ... superlatives of size ... should people advertise maps? Should parks build decks? Is damage a concern? This question can apply to Hyperion, Iluvatar or Albino redwoods
One reason for some secrecy is to keep the forest floor and soil around those redwoods from getting thrashed.
I don't really consider the locations a secret. Especially not one that belongs to some exclusive "club". That's a foolish notion held by a few cry-babies who fail to realize we are all on the same level playing field.
Discoverers who found and know locations merely spent time looking for something new, investing their time, funds and travel. Anybody else could have done the same thing too ... nothing really prevented them. Thankfully, not everybody thinks that way.
There already are redwoods with decks and fences and signs and trails. Those options include redwoods at Founders Grove, Bull Creek Flats or Stout Grove. For those who have been there, you know that the plants on the ground are gone for good.
Secrecy for other redwoods does not add one restriction. It adds one more option: redwoods that people can find on their own, redwoods without decks, redwoods with more vegetation near the base. The lack of directions merely keeps traffic to a minimum, without restricting people from looking.
People who claim there are elite visitors or restricted groves, basically fabricate complaints out of thin air. But they are the exception and not the rule. The preponderance of redwood visitors go without a "yours or mine" mindset, and are there to enjoy the forest.
Aside from indisputable soil compaction and thrashing of vegetation that directions can trigger, vandals and fools are a threat. We never know whether one will strike, or when. At least it's rare, but consider these ...
Vandalism, Abuse or Illegal Activity
1. Writer Tom Clynes wrote in an Metroactive article about redwoods that names were carved in a Rewood National Park Centerpiece: researchers found damage in Mendocino redwood, suggesting clandestine climbing.
2. Auburn University Oaks Poisoned The Toomer's Corner oaks were chemically contaminated. The person responsible even called a radio station.
3. Recently - 2010 - an unknown vandal slaughtered 44 specimens in Golden Gate Park.
4. Palo Alto's most treasured redwood was painted: spoiled by graffiti. El Palo Alto was more than 1,000 years old: California Historic Landmark No. 2
5. A redwood at Ladybird Johnson Grove in RNP received the huge chainsaw slash fairly recently. A ranger said the cut was 1994, And that 2 redwoods were damaged. The second fell over. Believed as an act of protest.
6. Melborne's Royal Botanical Garden vandalism. Look at the photo if available. Police say an axe, machete or tomahawk was probably used to ringbark the massive River Red Gum.
7. 200 year old Tree of Knowledge in Queensland Outback vandalized when someone poured herbicides around the Eucalyptus' trunk. An estimated 40 liters of herbicide.
8. Sandy Oregon, 2010: Police announce the The Chainsaw Chicken, cutting at least 20 trees along Hy. 26. Felled on roads at night.
9. Texas 1989: a vandal poured a large amount of herbicide under the ancient Treaty Oak. The oak is a shadow of what it was.
10. A vandalized Sugar Pine: world's tallest, Umpqua National Forest. Not long after a sign addition, girdled with a chainsaw. We looked at this in 2011. Slash around the full trunk circumference.
11. Aukland, NZ, an activist attacked a Radiata Pine October, 1994. A 2nd attack came in October, 2000. It was not salvageable, and was felled. Here is one recent story about future replanting.
12. Grove of Titans - Vandalism: Someone already cut some vegetation near the base of Lost Monarch on a photo-op side with something sharp like a knife. Although it's not common, some photographers will cut shrubs needlessly. Graffiti has been carved in bark or wood at the Grove of Titans near El Viejo del Norte, in 2011. Although that visual vandalism was on logs, most visitors frown greatly upon that activity. This followed a proliferation of clues spread by one David Mickelson, previously of Medford, who wanted lots more people to see the Grove of Titans (with no regard for vetting). No vandalism was ever seen and reported in this grove prior to Mickelson's brief campaign to proliferate traffic there. In 2012, he read or heard news about the burning of the largest Cypress east of the Mississippi. Apparently, that undermined his previous reasoning, causing him to remove clues and the ease of accessing maps.
13. Luna, the redwood made famous by Julia Butterfly Hill, was gouged by a chainsaw after it was spared from logging. People can debate whether that redwood was worth keeping, but no debating that it was vandalized.
14. The Senator Cypress torched January 16, 2012. An excerpt from the news story reads: "26-year-old suspected methamphetamine user is facing charges she burned down a 3,500-year-old cypress tree in Central Florida, reportedly telling police she needed more light to see the drugs she was doing
... Investigators Tuesday confiscated Barnes' cellphone, laptop computer, ... agents said Barnes took pictures of the fire and downloaded them to her phone and computer, the Sentinel writes. Witnesses told them she showed off the images, saying, "I can't believe I burned down a tree older than Jesus."
Keep in mind, I'm not advocating that nobody should find these. Obviously people look for them and some have found. In fact, I hope that some people who would enjoy these redwoods, do find them.
Stout Grove redwood is not an example
Stout redwood has been put forth as an example that a lot of people can walk over soil around the base, and a redwood still flourish.
Redwoods change over centuries. It is foolish to say compaction around Stout Redwood has no effect simply because there are still plenty of needles on the branches.
The packed earth and lack of ferns around Stout redwood is fool's example to argue that a lot of stomping around trunks is inconsequential.
Extensive areas of packed earth can affect Stout redwood's longevity. But few humans live long enough to know. It may take a century for a redwood to go into decline prematurely.
Are you planning to find one of the undisclosed redwoods?
If you look for one of the largest known redwoods, limit where you walk. A few have inconspicous foot paths: don't broaden them. Lift fronds of ferns. Avoid standing high on the trunk for photos.
If you move carefully and spare vegetation on and around the trunk, you can extend a unique photography specimen for future visitors.