Why Byrne-Milliron’s Closed for Sustainable Timber Harvest

Property will be closed to public access from July 1, 2024, through May 1, 2025, to selectively harvest trees and maintain forest health.

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Santa Cruz, CA—The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County has owned and managed the 402-acre Byrne Milliron Forest since 1984. Since then, the organization has carefully planned and conducted seven timber harvests on various parts of the property. While the temporary closure of this beloved spot will affect many who frequent it, this work will help ensure the Byrne Forest continues to be a beautiful, healthy, and productive forest for generations to come.

The Land Trust acquired the property with Carlton Byrne’s stipulation that it be managed for both educational and recreational uses and as a sustainable working forest. In fact, the first two Land Trust timber harvests (50 acres in 1987 and 60 acres in 1990) were used to pay off the purchase part of the gift/purchase transaction. The funds from the upcoming harvest will help the Land Trust continue to care for the forest by maintaining trails, managing invasive non-native plants, and other conservation work.

Maintaining a Healthy and Beautiful Forest

Like most of the coniferous forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Byrne forest was clear-cut in the late 1800s. The “second growth” forest that resulted from this practice was an even-aged forest resembling a tree plantation rather than a natural forest, with structural diversity created by trees of many sizes and age classes. A dense, even-aged forest can have over 200 trees per acre; a healthy old growth forest has as few as 35.

The process of creating a more diverse and productive forest began more than 70 years ago under prior ownership and has been continued by the Land Trust over the past 40 years. The Land Trust’s comprehensive forest management plan for the property is based on maintaining stand characteristics that maximize productivity yet are sustainable over time, which is why the Byrne Forest is thriving. We do this by hand selecting the trees to be harvested.

Trees are selected for removal so that nearby trees can grow more vigorously. Hand selecting trees is a complex business. It depends on the slope, the size of nearby trees, the ease of getting them out, the proximity of creeks, and more. Other ecological benefits of selection forestry are improved wildlife habitat and increased carbon sequestration.

The harvest will be conducted by Big Creek Lumber and overseen by Land Trust staff.

The Big Picture

The timber harvests at Byrne are part of the bigger picture of conservation both in our region and globally. Forests provide us with clean water, wildlife habitat, and open space—and play a major role in combating climate change. Three quarters of California’s drinking water originates in forests and forest loss is a major contributor to the buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere and global warming.

In our community, protecting clean water, wildlife habitat, and open space means preserving working forests. Sustainable timber harvesting, as practiced by the Land Trust in partnership with our community, is good for the forest, good for land protection, and good for the environment.

The Land Trust thanks the community for its ongoing understanding and support and encourages the public to enjoy one of our other beautiful properties in Santa Cruz County.

Follow this link to learn more about Land Trust of Santa Cruz County’s protected areas.

Follow this link to find periodic updates on the status of the sustainable timber harvest at the Byrne-Milliron Forest.

About the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County

The mission of the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County is to protect, care for, and connect all people to the vibrant natural and working lands that are essential for our community and nature to thrive together for generations to come.

For more information, visit