Legacies of Support

Many of our supporters have included the League in their will or trust. Their gifts, and yours should you choose to join them, strengthen and help ensure the future of our redwood forests.

Susan Vreeland: Author Ensures Enduring Support for Redwoods

Susan Vreeland named the League in her will. Photo by Kip Gray

Susan Vreeland believes everyone needs some engagement with Earth’s astonishing natural places. That’s why she has named Save the Redwoods League in her will.

“Save the Redwoods acknowledges this human need, for the sake of our national health, our emotional health,” she said. “Preserving more redwood groves provides an atmosphere to heal, to consider one’s life, to confront the eternal.”

Vreeland, an author, is best known for her fictional works about the lives of famous artists. She’s written about Vermeer, Renoir, Manet, Monet, Van Gogh and Cezanne. Three of her five books about painters have made The New York Times bestseller list, garnering praise for their literary merit and historical accuracy.

Part of Vreeland’s mission is helping readers see as artists do. “By the attention painters give to, say, light filtering through a canopy of branches, they’re sending us a message,” she explained. “They’re telling us to stop and look and slow down, to observe the millions of delights of our physical world.”

Nature plays a role in many of Vreeland’s books — most prominently in her 2004 novel, The Forest Lover, about Canadian artist Emily Carr.

“The more she entered into the life of the tree, as one breath moving, in and out like the tide, one heart-drum beating, the more alive her work became,” Vreeland said of Carr.

Time spent in nature animates Vreeland’s work as well. She’s particularly inspired by redwood groves. “My soul needs that reconnection with the forest, the rushing waters, the tranquil meadows,” she said. “The girth of the giant sequoia offers an image of sturdiness, stability. The reaching for the sky of the taller coast redwoods is a call for us to keep reaching, growing.” With her bequest, protection of the redwoods will keep growing as well.

Rozelle Family: Santa Cruz Mountain Redwoods Inspire Annuity Gift

Allan and Pam Rozelle. Photo by Paolo Vescia

Less than an hour from the hustle of California’s Silicon Valley is a huge, thick redwood forest rolling over the rugged Santa Cruz Mountains, a perch for viewing the sweeping Pacific Ocean nearby. Redwoods’ tops reach out of sight. The ground is spongy with its carpet of rusty leaves. Sweet earth and bay laurel scent the cool air.

Save the Redwoods League and four other conservation groups launched the Living Landscape Initiative (LLI), to protect CEMEX Redwoods and others like it near Silicon Valley.

Motivated by the LLI’s goals, Pam and Allen Rozelle, who live in the heart of LLI territory in Santa Cruz, gave a generous charitable gift annuity to each of the Initiative’s five organizations (in addition to the League: Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, Peninsula Open Space Trust, Sempervirens Fund and The Nature Conservancy).

“We appreciate the redwoods that we see, and we appreciate the idea that there are other redwoods out there that are worth protecting,” Pam said.

In addition to their sense of satisfaction from supporting the forest, she said, their gift provides them with reliable income and a tax deduction.

“We were impressed by the cooperative aspects of the project and galvanized by the $15 million commitment put forward by the Moore Foundation,” Pam said. With some securities destined for charity in their wills, news of the Initiative moved them to re-examine their giving plans. “A charitable gift annuity actually offered a higher yield than our current investments, plus tax deductions,” she said. “How could we say no to doing well by doing good?”

Meet John Staley: Honoring the  Value of Nature

Meet John Staley

John Staley, League member since 1969 has named the League in his estate plan. Protecting the magnificent redwood forest is a top priority of his, so he included the League in his will to dedicate a grove in memory of his father who taught him the value of nature and the redwood forest.

Allegretti Family: The League ‘Gets Results’

Marcia and Jim Allegretti have been League members since 1987. They named Save the Redwoods League in a bequest through their living trust. Photo by Julie Martin

Longtime League members Jim and Marcia Allegretti want to protect redwoods after they pass on, so they named Save the Redwoods League in a bequest through their living trust. It’s a step Marcia couldn’t have foreseen when she met Jim in college at San Francisco State University more than 40 years ago.

“My family did not do outdoor things,” Marcia said. “Until I met him, I never did anything outdoors. But his family did a lot.”

Like Jim, Marcia is a lifelong San Franciscan. But she didn’t see a big redwood until she was in college. She recalled the experience — her first camping trip with Jim to the Russian River area.

“I knew nothing about camping,” Marcia said. “When he came to pick me up, I had a big suitcase, a little suitcase and my beehive hairdryer, until Jim said to me, ‘Where are you going to plug it in?’”

The redwoods showed me the outdoors in a way I’d never seen before,” Marcia said. “I was just awestruck when I saw how big they are and how beautiful they are.

Jim owned a copy shop that printed mailings and newsletters for the League. He liked what he read, so he became a member in 1987. The couple has supported Save the Redwoods League ever since. So it made sense for them to name the League in their estate plan.

“We don’t have children,” Marcia said, “so a lot of our money is going to organizations that we care about.” Jim said, “What the League does and the way they do it really rings a bell for us. They get results.

Kathy Bouchard: Redwood Leadership Society Member’s Gift Will Keep Giving

Kathy Bouchard is leaving her IRA account to the League. Photo by Naomi Tenen

When Kathy Bouchard, a member of the Save the Redwoods League Redwood Leadership Society, touches the trunk of an ancient redwood, she said she thinks about what the tree has seen in the hundreds of years it’s been here.

And she treasures her time walking among them. Magical experiences like these have motivated Bouchard to support Save the Redwoods League for decades.

She said she can make gifts to protect redwoods every year when she’s alive, but when she passes on, she can do even more for the giant trees she fell in love with more than 40 years ago.

That is why Bouchard recently decided to make Save the Redwoods League the beneficiary of her IRA account. She chose this type of donation partly because of its tax advantages.

“If I leave an IRA account to an individual, it’s taxed at a high rate,” she said. “But a charitable organization gets to keep every penny, with no taxes. So the money goes a lot farther.”

Born and raised in New York City, Bouchard was once an urbanite. But at age 22 she took a fateful bus ride across the country and fell in love with California’s redwoods. “I had never seen anything so big,” she said.

Today Bouchard, a paralegal, lives in Southern California and considers herself a “nature person.” On her time off, she heads north to visit redwood parks.

“I love driving up through the Avenue of the Giants, finding a private little grove, and sitting there and staring at the trees,” she said.

On one visit to Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, Bouchard spotted a Save the Redwoods League brochure, which prompted her to start making yearly donations.

Today, Bouchard appreciates the redwoods even more than when she first saw them.

“It’s so rejuvenating. I always keep wanting to come back.”

Bouchard’s generosity is helping ensure that others will be able to walk among the tall trees, too, for many years to come.

Joyce Harris: Doing Her Part for More Than 45 Years

Tamara Pabis, left, and Joyce Harris enjoy a day in the redwood forest. Harris is helping to protect the future of our redwood forests by naming the League in her estate plan.

Joyce Harris met her first giant sequoia when she was 5 years old. Her family was camping in Sequoia National Park. She can still remember the magic of looking up at that huge, tall tree.

“I loved the beauty,” she said. “But I learned that only 5 percent of the old-growth redwoods were left. So I felt mad at California for not taking better care of them.”

Today Harris has been a proud member of Save the Redwoods League for nearly half a century. She’s helping to protect the future of our redwood forests by naming the League in her estate plan. In 2003, Harris made another important contribution to the redwood forest by dedicating the “J C R D Harris Family Grove” in Limekiln State Park.

The 5-acre grove stands near the southern end of the coast redwoods’ natural range. Two streams flow through it, with a waterfall nearby. Harris frequently drives north from her home in Long Beach to hike in for a visit. “I run in and hug my trees,” she said.

Six months after a fire hit her grove in 2008, she warily hiked in with a state park ranger. But there was nothing to fear. Ferns and other plants were coming back. The trunks of the oldest trees were blacker than before, but still hauntingly beautiful. The scene reminded her of one of her favorite John Muir quotations: “Sequoias, kings of their race, growing close together like grass in a meadow, poised their brave domes and spires in the sky three hundred feet above the ferns and lilies that enameled the ground; towering serene through the long centuries, preaching God’s forestry fresh from heaven.”

She’s glad to enjoy her grove now, and likes knowing that because of her thoughtful bequest, others like her will experience the forest for generations to come.

Harris encourages others to do their part to protect the forest. “Have a grove when you’re still alive and you can stop by and hug your trees,” she said.

Shirley and Ferrel Schell: Lifetime of Dedication to Forest Motivates Bequest

“The children say camping in the redwoods was the best thing we did when they were growing up.” —Shirley Schell

Shirley and Ferrel Schell’s lifelong love affair with redwoods has had many memorable moments. One of those moments was celebrating a grove dedication at Navarro River Redwoods State Park in 2007. More recently, they added Save the Redwoods League to their wills.

But the story began when they were newlyweds. Ferrel was in the Navy. While his ship cruised from San Diego to Portland, Shirley followed along the coast in a car. In Northern California, she took time out to see the redwoods. “Coming from Kansas, I just couldn’t believe it,” Shirley said. “Those marvelous things! So beautiful!”

Soon after, Shirley brought Ferrel to see the towering trees of Humboldt Redwoods State Park. They noticed markers honoring people who had contributed to the trees’ protection.

“They were impressive,” Ferrel said, “but we never thought we would be able to do it.”

Two or three times a year, the whole family would camp in a redwood park. They enjoyed crafts, singing and campfire programs, and even braved campground visits from wild boars and bears.

“The children say camping in the redwoods was the best thing we did when they were growing up,” Shirley said.

When asked about their contributions to Save the Redwoods League, Ferrel looks intently at his wife. “There was never any doubt, was there?” he asked.

“No, we both felt very deeply,” she said.

Nadine Weil: Heart of Green Inspires Gift for Redwood Forest

“The legacy I would most like to leave is the protection of a redwood forest in perpetuity.” —Nadine Weil

Thinking about the future is a full-time job for Nadine Weil. In 2004, it led her to found Heart of Green, an organization that supports sustainability projects. That focus also motivated her to include a bequest in her will for Save the Redwoods League.

“Redwoods are my favorite things on Earth,” said Weil, who also co-hosts the annual Brower Youth Awards — named for conservationist David Brower. Born and raised in Northern California, Weil grew up adventuring in the redwoods. On these family outings, she gained a love of nature and important insights, she said.

“Redwoods remind me to stand tall in the face of adversity,” Weil said. “Whenever I need to shed new light on a situation, I make a beeline for a redwood forest.”

With her background in science — she majored in engineering at Stanford University and worked on the original electric vehicle design for General Motors — Weil is especially impressed with the League’s work on climate change. She attended the League-sponsored Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative symposium and liked what she heard.

“It struck me that the very force that potentially threatens redwood forests could also be their salvation,” she said. Weil was referring to how rapid climate change may threaten redwoods because they may not be able to adapt to it quickly enough. But redwoods also absorb and store great amounts of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. “These giants are worth more standing up than lying down, in more ways than one,” she said.