A young coast redwood sprouting out of an old log in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California
© Hutch Axilrod/Getty Image
The sprout with amazing potential. Arbor Day
With a little love, support, and luck, this wee sprout at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in California has a big future in store. It's a coast redwood, the species that includes the tallest trees on Earth. Some top out at more than 350 feet tall and live for over 2,000 years. These redwoods are heroes of nature, affecting the weather and climate, while creating conditions essential for a healthy ecosystem along this stretch of the Pacific Coast.
But all of this little sprout's potential is at risk because the coast redwood is an endangered species. Before commercial logging began in the mid-1800s, coast redwoods stretched across 2 million acres of the California coast—today, only 118,000 acres of older coast redwood forest remain. But they're at least protected in areas like this state park.
We're considering the fate of this young seedling today, because it's an especially important day for it and for all trees. That's right, today is Arbor Day, the day where we stop for a moment to think about the trees (and hopefully even plant a few). The first American Arbor Day occurred 150 years ago, when an estimated 1 million trees were planted in Nebraska in 1872. This year, America's Arbor Day Foundation is celebrating its 50th year of dedication to tree planting. They've planted over 350 million of them over the years, but the mission never ends. Trees are vital to the health of our planet, which means they're important for our own health as well.