“This is the best tree-lover’s monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world. You have done me great honor, and I am proud of it.” –John Muir to William Kent
I guess this was the week to feed the tree-huggers inside of us. We will leave California well nourished, especially after our stroll through Muir Woods today. We traveled across the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County to visit this incredible forest. San Francisco is indeed fortunate to have this treasure right in its backyard.
This is a story about the never-ending struggle of balancing the needs of large populations of people and the need to preserve the beauty of God’s creation for future generations. It is also proof that it is good to have friends in high places.
Much of northern California was forested with ancient coast redwood forests until the 1800s. Even in the early 1900s, Marin County had alot of people and needed more water. A plan was hatched to dam the Redwood Creek and use the valley as a reservoir for the water needs of the area. An area businessman and his wife, William and Elizabeth Kent, were appalled that the government would even consider destroying the valley and purchased the land in 1905 to keep it out of the hands of the water-thirsty government officials. The Kents were friends of John Muir and were simpatico with him regarding beautiful, irreplaceable areas in nature. Of course, the local officials had the option of seizing the land under imminent domain laws. Luckily, John Muir had taken Teddy Roosevelt on a tour of Yosemite not too long before this happened and they had become fast friends. That’s President Theodore Roosevelt to you and me.
So, as human nature would have it, John Muir pulled strings. He contacted the President and told him of the danger that threatened the redwood forest. President Roosevelt used the 1906 Antiquities Act to set the land aside as a national monument, saving it from flooding. As most folks out here are fully aware, once a valley is flooded, it cannot be unflooded. Just the mention of Hetch Hetchy gets people all riled up even after all these years.
So today we were able to stand under these magnificent trees. I just love when someone has friends in high places and uses those connections for the greater good. Here are some pictures. I just wish they did the Muir Woods justice, but sadly, a picture can’t even come close to the exhilaration of standing among these majestic giants. It’s kinda weird–you feel terribly small, but all the while, you feel like you are part of something very large, primordial, and wise. Something only a higher power could create.