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Below the Canopy Written and Designed by Binh Wilson

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I dedicate this book to my Grandma who supports me when I forget to support myself.



Table of Contents Foreword......................................................................................................Page 7 Introduction.................................................................................................Page 9 Chapter 1: A Small State.............................................................................Page 10 Chapter 2: The Extra Effort.......................................................................Page 16 Chapter 3: Unkown Consequences............................................................Page 20 Conclusion....................................................................................................Page 26 Works Cited..................................................................................................Page 30



Foreword W

hen I was searching for a location for my documentary, I was actually leaning toward doing something that wasn’t Henry Cowell. I had done research on a botanical garden located near Saratoga and it was a fascinating place because it had many species that were not native to America at all. Yet my partner kept persisting that we use his topic and that it would give us much more to write on. It wasn’t until I went myself until I understood what he meant. I found myself noticing many things that were different here than they were anywhere else. It’s not everywhere that you find a group of people following a ranger talking about the park! What really surprised me was that he knew some of the listeners by name, answering questions in a very personal manner. This was really the deal breaker and I immediately began learning more. Because of the knowledge of the park keepers it was fairly easy to get a good base and head start on my research. They showed me some good websites with which I could get good credible information as well as a series of pamphlets that helped much more than anything else. I did learn however how hard it is to know what information you need. With all the facts in my head I found myself very unorganized with my thoughts all over the place. So if there was a next time I would mostly establish what information I need first before I begin going deeper into my research.





un filters through the dense canopy above, reflecting off the glittering dust particles that are swirled up by the hidden movements of the forests inhabitants. Utter silence is the only thing heard save for the slapping of thousands of leaves against each other as if vying for a final embrace. And as you reach the crest of the massive climb ahead, a glorious view of the valley is sprawled out before you, with zero signs of human life for miles in all directions. This is a description of my experience of just one of over 15 miles of hikes and trails that make up the Henry Cowell State Park. Having heard from a friend about the place, me and my family decided to drive up early on a Saturday and check it out. As I we entered the actual park grounds it took me a moment to really grasp the beauty around me. But after the first mile or so, I really started to relax and began to look up. It was eye opening in that I couldn’t believe that a forest like this could be so close to home! Then I started to wonder what was so different from all the other parks that I’ve been to. Why is Henry Cowell different from every other park in California? Well due to its small size and relative distance to urban areas, it has a much more close relationship to its community that few other parks can relate to. It has many activities such as boy scout trooping and outdoor lectures that work to inform its visitors on the importance of preservation. These activities are run by a group of dedicated rangers that go above and beyond what is expected of them. This is shown by both the constant work done by these rangers to both run and keep clean the trails from the wear and tear of constant use. And despite seeing hundreds of visitors each day, they are always able to not only answer questions, but do it with enthusiasm that rubs off on you no matter what. 9

Chapter1 From Then to Now


enry Cowell State Park didn’t actually begin as a park at all. Back in 1867, there was a man named Joseph Thomas Welsh who, after seeing the beauty of the area


and the potential for profit, bought over 350 acres of redwoods that make up the park today. Soon after purchasing the land, Welch built a large scale resort name “Big Tree Grove”. True to it’s name, many visitors came to the resort to witness the ancient redwoods as this particular species

of tree was very different from the others around the country. Some visitors however believed that the beautiful redwoods should be able to be seen by all people, not only those that could afford the expensive costs to stay at the resort. This persuasiveness formed the Sempervirens club in 1899, urging Santa Cruz County to take control of the area thirty years later. Soon after, in 1950 Samuel Cowell then proposed to adjoin the County Park with the large area of land that he owned to form what is now known today as the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.


“Within steps you’re in old growth redwood forest, or

in a grassland meadow, you can be right along the river, or up in the ridge tops with the chaparral. So it kind of takes all of our California and shrinks it down to this park right here.” - Daniel Williforde



ut what exactly makes up this park that caused so much controversy in its formation? Well as obviously stated in the name, it boasts a large population of the rare redwoods that are indigenous to the Northern California area. These redwoods can reach astounding heights and have lured in many tourists from not only America but around the world as well. One difference however, compared to other redwood parks, is that the land within the boundaries of the park boasts four distinct ecosystems. This is quite a feat due to the relatively small size compared to other state parks in California. A good starting point would be the Redwood Grove right next to the visitor center. Many trail heads are located in that area and are always a good start for those who aren’t acquainted with the park. But as you continue down a trail, the

dirt may soon change to sand as you begin to climb the sandhill chaparral. On this hill, the native species change dramatically in that now the sight of a bobcat or coyote is now a distinct possibility as well as the sounds of a few rare endemic insect species. The chaparral, with its soft sandstone and mudstone, is in sharp contrast to the harder granite that make up the southern section of the park. This ecosystem boasts the San Lorenzo River, which is home to another very different set of animals from the ecosystem previously mentioned. For example the prestigious Blue Heron as well as the Belted Kingfisher. It is in the San Lorenzo itself that consists of the fourth and final ecosystem. The San Lorenzo River, with its calmer waters, is one

of the final spawning place for the endangered steelhead trout. The steelhead as of late have been on the decline and it has become a hot topic with naturalists in the area. With its diverse ecosystems and rich history, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is an underrated jewel in the Santa Cruz County




Chapter2 An Enthusiastic Approach


ne reason that Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park stands out from other


parks is that it goes above and beyond expectations to both inform and interact with those

that visit. Henry Cowell, with its relatively small size, has a surprisingly large amount of employed workers, with many of them related to public relations as well as the myriad of programs that are ran or aided by the park itself. Such programs include the Save The Redwoods Foundation, as well as many clean up and endangered species programs. The Save The Redwoods program, in particular, has been very influential at Henry Cowell. Areas such as the Old Growth Forest, which is an area with some of the oldest redwoods in the park, is always a hot topic on how open it should be to the public.


e interviewed ranger Daniel Williforde and confirmed that “People really following rules is probably what I see as being the biggest problem, or maybe NOT following the rules is probably the best way to put that”. So it is no surprise if you may walk by a man or woman being scolded by one of the many patrolling park workers. Yet, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the surprising actions that this park takes to insure that the visitors enjoy everything that it has to offer. You may be lucky enough to hop in on one of the lectures put on just outside the campground area. These “classes” are about not only the park and its many inhabitants but also on how each person can do their part in keeping it clean and beautiful. They put on a number of exhibits in the visitor center

that contain information on the parks past as well as on some of the more popular animals that one might find out on the trail. To top it off, many Boy Scout troops find themselves coming through the park at least once. When interviewing Troop Leader We Paul Krukar and he told us that Henry Cowell in particular does a very good job of opening the eyes of his students as well as having “...some of the most majestic I’ve ever seen.” He speaks on

how every time he comes back, he is always amazed at the tranquility he feels compared to the common commotion that he can sometimes even see from the top of a few of the chaparrals located on the park. So with a variety of different ecosystems and a more than willing staff to teach the children, all located within 30 minutes from the Silicon Valley, it’s a no-brainer why we see people such as Paul coming back often. 17



C h a p t e r 3 Hidden Consequences


tate Parks, and Henry Cowell Redwoods in particular, effect our community enough where without them we would find ourselves missing a very important experience that many of us take for


granted.should. Troop Leader Paul astonished us as we interviewed him on how strongly he spoke on the importance of having state parks. Using Henry Cowell as an example, he talks not only about his first experience here but also of an elderly couple he saw from Japan. He spoke in great detail about the expressions that he saw and “... the looks on their faces that told me they were just in awe of the size and

beauty of the redwoods located here in California.” And as we asked Ranger Williforde on his thoughts on the importance of maintaining Henry Cowell State Park he simply was unable to grasp what life would be like without it. Stating that “It’s something that I think a lot of people might not even realize or take for granted…” and when asked on the effects saying “ would kind of change the fabric of our current culture.” This is especially true for people such as Daniel who make their living off the State Park system.



et it is not only the current generation but those subsequent that will be the most effected from the removal of parks. As one might be able to guess, the current generation would be losing one of the few ways to have a day off greater than just sitting at home on the couch. Be-


ing able to drive for half an hour and experiencing something that you don’t usually see can really be a strong escape from the common grind that most of us have at the keys of a computer. But what about our kids? Many important topics are taught at Henry Cowell and Ranger Wil-

liforde says we “...need the wild places to be in and we need to know about the culture where things were before we got here.” This rings true with the common person because many of us nearby the Santa Cruz County only see the increasingly mechanized side of the world and not the untouched areas that many parts of the world still live in. And while most of us may not want to travel all the way to South America to see beautiful nature, many of us would definitely travel the 30 miles to have that eye opening experience that even the most hardcore outdoorsmen experiences whenever he comes down to Henry Cowell for a visit.




u ss ii oo nn CC oo nn cc ll u


hether it be through tall redwoods or sandy hills, Henry Cowell never ceases to amaze. It’s natural beauty is a prime example of the redwoods that are special only to the state of California. Despite its small size, the park has a enry Cowell State Park didn’t actually begin as a park at all. Back surprisingly diverse wildlife. Whether it be redwoods or chapparal it can be found in 1867, there was a man named Joseph Thomas Welsh who, on parkafter grounds. The redwoods have national marvel since the late late seeing the beauty of thebeen areaaand the potential for profit, 1860’s. Some over 300 ft tall and that havemake such thick and bushy branches bought overtower 350 acres of redwoods up the park today. Soon that the apex of the trunk even bebuilt seena from canopy. after purchasing thecannot land, Welch largebelow scale the resort nameFrom “Big there it isTree less Grove”. than a mile to the open aired, sand chaparrals. Being so close to the Truehike to it’s name, many visitors came to the resort to witocean, theancient once dirtredwoods hills have as gained a very thickspecies layer ofofsand gathness the this particular treethat washas very different from the others around country. Someand visitors however ered over thousands of years, to the the point where plant animal species have believed that the beautiful redwoods able toforest be seen by all evolved and adapted completely different should from thebe redwood neighboring it. people, two not chaparrals, only thosethe thatSan could afford thecan expensive to stay at tall Between Lorenzo River be foundcosts hidden amongst the resort.This persuasiveness formed Sempervirens in 1899, trees. The San Lorenzo is widely known forthe it being one of theclub last rivers in which urging Santa Cruz County to take of the area thirtyhow years later. Willithe endangered Belted Kingfisher laycontrol their eggs. So it’s exactly Ranger Soon after, in 1950 Samuel Cowell then proposed to adjoin the County forde said it was how “... it takes all of California and kind of compacts it into the Park with the large area of land that he owned to form what is now small area that is Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.”


known today as the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.




ut great pictures isn’t the only reason why it has become so popular. It sees the number of visitors it does each day because of the effort made by the workers to engage everyone to learn about the surrounding area. Many options are available to learn more about the park such


exhibits located right on the park. So without parks such as Henry Cowell, we would find ourselves losing something that’s inherent to what we need. The implications of getting rid of the parks would effect this generation as well as rob subsequent generations of the chance to learn firsthand the type of world that would come as the large number of pro- naturally without human grams set up by the rangers hands. This can be used as a or simply striking up a con- great way to learn from our versation with the rangers mistakes as well as improve as they walk around. It’s a the future. And all this tosmall enough park so as to gether is what makes Henry really be able to divert the Cowell Redwoods State Park attention towards the indi- the amazing place that it is vidual. But big enough so as today. to be able to run programs such as outdoor lectures and

Wo r k s C i t e d “California State Park Closures Avoided in Budget Proposal | State Park | SoCal Wanderer | KCET.” KCET. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2014. “California’s State Park On the Rocks.” The California Report. KQED, n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2014. “Henry Cowell: A Life Stranger Than Fiction | The Juilliard School.” Henry Cowell: A Life Stranger Than Fiction | The Juilliard School. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2014. “The State Parks of California.” LearnStuff. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2014. “Park Advocacy Day.” Save Our State Parks. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2014. United States. National Park Service. “Redwood National and State Parks (U.S. National Park Service).” National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, 23 Mar. 2014. Web. 24 Mar. 2014. “John Muir (1838–1914).” PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2014. “Henry Cowell.” Hilltromper. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2014. “Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.” Bay Area Hiker: Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2014. “Henry Cowell Redwoods SP.” California Department of Parks and Recreation. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.



Above the Canopy Binh Wilson

Binh Wilson is a junior attending Mountain View High School. He enjoys playing soccer as well as track and field. Outside of school and athletics, Binh loves to drive up to Lake Tahoe and snowboard with his friends and family. His older brother inspired his interest in the media arts at a young age and he plans to get his college degree and make a living in a profession he can enjoy.

Below the Canopy Written and Designed by Binh Wilson

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