My Public Lands

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    Happy Arbor Day from the Headwaters Forest Reserve!

    The Headwaters Forest Reserve is 7,472 acres of public land located 6 miles southeast of Eureka, California.  Established by the Headwaters Agreement of 1999, the Reserve was created after a 15 year effort to save the ancient ecosystem from being clearcut.  Today, the Reserve is set aside to protect and preserve the ecological and wildlife values in the area, particularly the stands of old-growth redwood that provide habitat for the threatened marbled murrelet, and the stream systems that provide habitat for threatened coho salmon.


    The area that is now the Headwaters Forest Reserve has a rich history of human occupation. The now-defunct town of Falk was once a bustling mill town located within the Headwaters Forest Reserve.

    Headwaters was the site of widespread public protests from 1986 through 1999. Political activists and community members from the northern California region held rallies and pressured political officials to “Save Headwaters” from ongoing logging activities in the area. These efforts culminated in the acquisition by the federal government and the State of California of 7,472 acres in 1999. 

    When Headwaters Forest Reserve was acquired, approximately 60% of the Reserve had been timber harvested. Once Headwaters was established, the Bureau of Land Management was tasked with restoring these harvested lands back to the natural conditions found in adjacent unharvested lands. This restoration work has included forest thinning, as well as decommissioning and re-planting of old logging roads.  

    A Sensitive Ecosystem

    Considered the last unprotected large stand of old-growth redwood forest, the Reserve was established based on the unique ecological values of the forest including, threatened and endangered species, old-growth forest ecosystems, and headwaters stream habitat.    

    Today, the misty forest is a national preserve. Some of its trees are more than 320 feet tall — higher than the Statue of Liberty — and were growing during the Roman Empire.  In addition to the large redwoods, other forest trees in the Reserve include Douglas-fir, tanoak, Sitka spruce, western red cedar, western hemlock and red alder. There are limited distribution plants in the Reserve including the heart-shaped twayblade and Kellogg’s Lily.

    Headwaters is the only forest reserve in the United States and is managed as a nature reserve of the BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System, designed to protect some of the most remarkable landscapes in the American West.

    Download the BLM’s new vintage poster of the Headwaters Forest Reserve on our My Public Lands Flickr.


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