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.
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