SANTA CRUZ COUNTY (KPIX 5) – The Save the Redwoods League says it has preserved more than 50 acres of old growth redwood forest, in a multi-million dollar transaction for the purchase of Cascade Ranch in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The acquisition of the 564-acre property was the “linchpin” that now joins Año Nuevo State Park to the east, and Big Basin State Park to the west.

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In addition to the old growth forest, the also has new growth areas that were last harvested in 1987, waterfalls, and a diverse array of habitats. As part of the agreement, no trees will ever be cut. The league will explore future options for trails that will lead hikers to the old growth area. The land appraised for $10 million, but the Holmes family sold it to the league for $9 million.

“Yes, we could sell to a private owner or highest bidder. We sold the property at a discount, so we are donating part of the proceeds,” said Bronia Holmes, owner.

Cascade Ranch in Santa Cruz County. (CBS)

Cascade Ranch in Santa Cruz County. (CBS)

“The fact we’ve got more than 50 acres of old growth redwood forest, on this property here in the Bay Area, is extraordinary,” said Sam Hodder, Save the Redwoods League CEO.

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Hodder says over time, the vast majority of the 2.2 million acres of old growth forest has been lost to logging, development, and climate change.

The league has also announced its “Forever Forest” initiative to raise more $120 million to purchase large parcels of land for conservation. The league has already banked $80 million.

“We’re going from defense to offense now. We’ve got an opportunity to heal the forest we’ve lost. Link those old forests together in a healing landscape of one of the most treasured and most resilient and most ancient ecosystems the world has known,” said Hodder.

Bronia Holmes had a message for large land owners pondering what to do with their properties once they pass on.

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“Money is OK, but it’s not everything in life. And we want to leave (our land) for other generations. For our children’s children. And we want to leave a legacy. And leave it to the planet, for other people to share,” said Holmes.