Founders Redwood Groves
Humboldt Redwoods and Prairie Creek Redwoods state parks contain memorial redwood groves historically named in honor of the people that contributed to their conservation. What has not been fully acknowledged is that two of the founders of Save the Redwoods League—Madison Grant and Henry Fairfield Osborn—were also leading eugenicists. Grant was internationally known for his 1916 book, The Passing of the Great Race: or The Racial Basis of European History, in which he espoused racist and anti-Semitic views. The influence of Grant’s writing and political efforts were far-reaching and informed anti-Asian discriminatory legislation like the Immigration Act of 1924, and anti-miscengenation laws, including Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924. Together, Grant and Osborn also co-founded the American Eugenics Society in 1926, whose core beliefs embodied exclusion and inequality.
In recognition of the need to better address their problematic legacy, State Parks, Save the Redwoods League, and students at Humboldt State University installed a new interpretive panel at Founders Grove in Humboldt Redwoods State Park this past September. Another panel will be placed at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. The panels acknowledge and make clear to visitors that these early conservationists equated saving the world’s tallest trees with preserving white supremacy. Furthermore, the department is working with scholars and Save the Redwoods League to remove Madison Grant’s name from its memorial redwood groves. Recommendations for re-dedications will be put forward to the State Park and Recreation Commission with opportunities for public input.
For more information, view the recent presentation by State Park staff about this issue on Facebook.
To learn how State Parks is looking at discriminatory names and inequities throughout the State Park System, visit www.parks.ca.gov/ReexaminingOurPast. If you would like to join our mailing list for updates on this and other projects related to Reexamining Our Past, please send a request to email@example.com.