By Michelle Werts

Muir Woods National Monument
Muir Woods National Monument. Credit: American Forests

Rain drips quietly through the thick canopy, as I walk through the old growth. The lovely behemoths that surround me are centuries older than I. They were here long before Columbus sailed the ocean blue. They fill me with peace and wonder, stretching their foliage toward the heavens. I have found a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of modern life. It’s hard to remember that I’m only 11 miles and less than 30 minutes from San Francisco’s famed Golden Gate Bridge.

So was my first encounter with an old-growth, coast redwood forest when I visited Muir Woods National Monument earlier this month. Standing amidst such ancient beauty, I instantly understood why John Muir loved the California woodlands so. They are the stuff of poetry — timeless, yet ever-changing, as fallen giants litter the floor while others sprout new boughs.

Nearly two million acres of old-growth, coast redwood forest used to cover the coasts of California and Oregon. Now, only three percent of the original forest remains — a stark reminder of why we do what we do here at American Forests.

We protect and restore treasured forest ecosystems, so that one day my future children will be able to walk the same path I once did through the tallest trees in the world. So they can witness the grandeur of nature firsthand and can experience the novelty of leaving modernity for a little while to commune with centuries-old beings. This is my wish for the future.

This holiday season, please consider making a donation to American Forests to help us protect special places and memories for today, tomorrow and generations to come.