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Craning your neck, you look straight up at a ginormous redwood tree that’s the height of a skyscraper. The dense, misty forest you’ve entered contains thousands of redwoods, the tallest living things on Earth. And the trees aren’t the only jumbo-size attraction in these woods. Peering down you spot a slimy, yellow banana slug that’s as long as your hand! You’re in California’s Redwood National and State Parks, a real-life land of giants.
The trees at Redwood National and State Parks can stretch over 300 feet high and live for more than 2,000 years. The tallest, which is nicknamed Hyperion, is three times the height of the Statue of Liberty. These trees grow so large in part because they have extremely thick bark that helps protect their cores from forest fires. The bark also naturally repels wood-eating termites and other destructive insects.
Redwood trees share their space with various types of animals, including tree squirrels, northern spotted owls, and of course the banana slug—the world’s second largest slug species. Over the last few centuries the redwood forest ecosystem has shrunk considerably, and many trees have disappeared as a result. But people are working to ensure that redwoods make a comeback.
Before the 1850s, over two million acres of redwoods existed along California’s coast. Around 90 percent of the trees were later destroyed by logging. In 1968 an area was set aside to help protect the trees that remained. Today new redwood trees are being planted in the parks’ forests. It’ll take hundreds of years for them to grow to their full size. But even as small saplings, these trees are a big deal!
Text by Jamie Kiffel-Alcheh