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.