U.S. 101 is called the Redwood Highway because it passes through northern California’s old growth forests, but not all the redwoods along the route have that distinction. Those bordering 101 on its route through Santa Rosa were planted in the 1950s  by members of the Men’s Garden Club, we’re told. Reader Ryan Kelley had this question about what happens to the trees that have been cleared as part of the widening project at Airport Boulevard, north of Santa Rosa. 

My father in-law and I were discussing the current work being performed on Northbound 101 past the Mendocino exit where they are removing the redwood trees.  What happens to the trees when they cut them down?  Is the wood sold to a mill, processed by CalTrans for another use, or simply disposed of? 

“All of the trees that were removed were recycled,” said Rich Kingsborough, president of Atlas Tree Surgery, the company hired to cut the trees. “Most of the redwood logs will be used for creek restoration projects, the remaining were donated to the historic Sturgeon Mill.”

About 600 trees were removed at Airport Boulevard in January as part of Ghilotti Construction’s contract to build a new interchange, with longer ramps and an improved overpass. At the time, Press Democrat Staff Writer Bob Norberg reported that the Sonoma County Water Agency bought 200 logs from Ghilotti for $98,000, with plans to install them along a mile of Dry Creek near Lambert Bridge this summer, creating shade and slow-moving water pockets for coho salmon.

 A number of the logs also were earmarked for restoration work on Mark West Creek, which runs next to the interchange, said Ghilotti manager Dale Mahoney told The Press Democrat, and about 400 were donated to the Sturgeon Mill, a restored 1914 lumber mill.

Norberg also reported that workers will plant 200 trees around the new interchange, 700 willows along Mark West Creek, and another 1,260 trees at Cresta ranch, which is owned by the Sonoma County Agriculture Preservation and Open Space District.

Note: This post was updated at 12:10 p.m. April 16, 2013.

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  1. Wayne Gibb

    RE: “Where do the redwoods go?” 4/16:

    What’s missing from the story is that the highway construction contractor somehow became the “owner” of these publicly-owned redwoods, subsequently selling them for $100,000 to the government entity which is creating fish habitat in Dry Creek.

    This is beyond outrageous and sure looks corrupt to this reader.

    Wayne Gibb

    April 16th, 2013 8:18 am

  2. rasputin

    As I understand it the trees are of very low quality and no mill would ever want such logs. The trees grew in very sunny locations which gives them large growth rings. They were basically garbage and not even suitable for fence boards. Now comes the business minds. Ok what to do with garbage. I know lets sell them back to CA for a premium. How do we do that? Ok , we charge california to fell the trees, we charge to dispose of logs, now sell them back at a premium to CA for restoration jobs, AKA dump them in a creek and call it “natural”. Sound like the old days of dumping your garbage in a creek? Ok now we have too much money on the books. OK second phase of plan. Donate some logs to a non-profit to offset the books. Well there you have it. CA fleeced as much as possible, taxes mitigated as much as possible, off to foutain grove to build a new pool for Mr. King. Sorry citizens who have to live and pay for such “jobs of improvement”

    Business as usuall

    April 16th, 2013 8:56 am

  3. goldy

    I wote a letter to the press demo recently, and it got published…about all the caltrans cutting- at least the wood is getting re-used…but far to many trees are being cut and no replants- from old projects to new…

    April 16th, 2013 9:12 am

  4. lenny

    It only took 60 years to get those towering redwoods. Sorry Caltrans, I think you over did it, taking down more trees than really necessary. Unfortunately, we’ll never in our lifetime, see majestic trees like that along this freeway.

    April 16th, 2013 9:43 am

  5. K. Frazer

    Why hasn’t the new traffic light at Fulton Road and Airport Drive been activated? It has just been blinking red since at least January.

    April 16th, 2013 9:56 am

  6. carl mayers

    It looks like their cutting zone marked out by red plastic fences is way wider than necessary. What is Caltrans guidelines for determining this distance?

    April 16th, 2013 10:03 am

  7. C. Stromante

    Were any animals hurt/killed in the removal of these redwoods (Nesting birds, squirrels, tree frogs, etc.)? Was an EIR done to ensure that other living beings were being looked out for, and that their displacement wouldn’t cause them to die?

    April 16th, 2013 10:16 am

  8. Tonia

    I despise the fact that all these trees “have” to be cut down for “road improvement projects” on a freeway that has been improved and widened already…I am heartbroken each time i see the stumps…Sonoma counties rural roads are going to be suffering more and more use and need more and more repair as I know I tend to take the back roads more now (i despise the view driving down 101 now)…and I am sure I cant be the only one…you want to do road improvement projects–then fix the existing roads in the county…you know the ones that are so full of holes and falling apart causing damage to our cars that WE have to pay for…do somthing that is actually an improvement…

    April 16th, 2013 10:43 am

  9. JJ

    600 trees? That’s horrible. Down here in Petaluma, CalTrans just removed the mature trees that provided a graceful & scenic southern gateway to our city. The place looks awful now and apparently there is no plan to quickly replant trees along here. I think they overdid it and it makes me sad and furious when I drive by there now and see the jagged stumps.

    April 16th, 2013 3:07 pm

  10. G

    But first and foremost, the wood goes to any of the employees who want to use it for firewood.

    If you get a chance, walk up into Spring Lake by the water towers, and you’ll see hundreds of cords of oak sitting around unused, just waiting to be taken home by city and county employees and their friends and families.

    April 16th, 2013 4:10 pm

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