Into the Old-Growth

photo of the week for Thursday, 2010, February 25
Photographer: National Park Service

The moist climate that cloaks northern California's coast feeds the old-growth forests in Redwood National and State Parks. The cool, moist air created by the Pacific Ocean keeps the trees here continually damp, even during summer droughts, according to the National Park Service.

While the park is famous for its namesake trees, the redwoods, this photo shows a Big Leaf Maple found along the Simpson Reed Trail. This mile-long loop ranges through "an ancient forest where 1,000-year-old redwoods form a towering canopy over a mixture of hardwood trees, shrubs, and ferns," notes the Park Service. "Every old-growth forest has its own distinctive characteristics. This grove includes a lush stream corridor where fallen trees lie randomly in the water, forming staircases and pools that support fish and insects. Other fallen giants nurse new life on the forest floor as hemlock trees, huckleberries, and ferns sprout among their decaying trunks and branches. The damp shade of the forest creates ideal conditions for red-legged frogs, rough-skinned newts, and other amphibians that depend on the tree to provide moisture through the dry summer, assuring a home for a class of animals that are in decline."

On the Web: www.nps.gov/redw