Photos by Dennis Brown

Photos by Dennis Brown – View more at Port Orford Historical Photos

They stood in the wet grass, silently. He had made a circle, ninety-five feet in circumference, with bright white rope which contrasted brilliantly on the grassy meadow. They stood there, around the circle, almost touching hands with each other. A feeling of pride rushed over those that were part of the historical event. It was almost magical how one small tree commanded an endless ring of children, strangers, friends, co-workers, and County Commissioners—all of which set differences aside to be part of the overwhelming circle of unity.

He explained the circle represented how large the tree they were about to plant could become. The on-lookers stood still in awe; this was unheard of. But they planted the little sapling, and about a dozen more, knowing each had the potential to grow to be a giant the guests would personally never witness, but people who had no idea they were there, would someday enjoy.

“We found the largest stump we could find—it was over 32 feet in diameter—and we took DNA from it. We cloned it to start a new generation of giant Redwoods”. And with that the politicians shoveled the first scoop of freshly uncovered soil back into the hole where the unique little tree was to take root. One by one children came forward and tossed a handful of dirt in the hole. And so began the life of the Redwoods at Lobster Creek County Park on March 1, 2015.

Terry Mock, a member of the Ancient Tree Archive Organization, who has committed his life’s work to sustainability, responsible land development, addressing climate change, and urging citizens to
look at development through a more holistic lense, led the effort. He explained the trees were cloned from 50 of the largest individual coast redwood champions; and the Fieldbrook Stump from Humboldt County which possibly was 400 feet tall and certainly 32.5 feet in diameter (that’s 95.5 feet in circumference).

“What is a Champion Tree? “ Mock asked the children, “it is the oldest and largest individual trees of their species. Champion Trees are iconic symbols of sustainability which have withstood the environmental stress over long periods of time—they have adapted and become superior—while simultaneously supporting all surrounding life forms”.

“Three dominant conifer species populated the earth during the Jurassic Era” citing the Coast Redwood, the Giant Sequoia, and the Dawn Redwood. “Without those trees, there would not have been oxygen; there would have been no life.” For those that have questioned the authenticity of the largest clones, Mock explained DNA testing from the Fieldbrook Stump reveals the saplings indeed hold the same genetic makeup as the original from which they were cloned.

Mock appropriately gave credit to the research done by the founder of the idea, David Milarch, and his sons. He noted a recent book by the New York Times which documented Milarchs’ work, The Man Who Planted Trees: Lost Groves, Champion Trees, and an Urgent Plan to Save the Planet. Mock ended by announcing the book is now in its second reprint, with the extensive work being done along Oregon’s south coast being added as a final chapter. Mock himself has planted hundreds of the clones at the Ocean Mountain Ranch, a sustainable retreat Mock and his family are developing to educate others about sustainability and the factors that interplay and influence our environment.

It was ironic such a peaceful, almost sacred event, was started by a non-profit representative of something bigger than our corner of the world–The Archangel Ancient Tree Archive.