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Finally, those darned redwoods are going to pay off. Heh heh. Seriously, come October -- well, even in the months leading up to October -- the world is going to be embraced in a great, big, National Geographic-sized redwoodhug the likes of which nobody's seen, at least not in a very long while.

There'll be ad spots, TV shows, YouTube spots and more. But the crowning events will be in October, when National Geographic's publications -- the flagship yellow-wrapped one we all grew up with, as well as Traveler and Adventure -- run redwood cover stories.

The 40-page cover story in National Geographic, "Redwoods," will be the big one, says Richard Stenger, Media & Marketing Manager with the Humboldt County Convention and Visitors Bureau -- which plans a barrage of media events to herald the publications and, of course, to pump up our area as having the tallest, best redwoods around.

"You're going to see a really nice base tree shot on the conventional cover, and then it's going to fold out -- for at least eight panels, maybe more -- to the top of the tree," says Stenger. "They've never done anything like this before. In fact, they want to hang a picture of this tree, lifesize, from a building in Sacramento. But they're still shopping that around."

The featured tree is 350 feet tall. It's not the tallest -- that is Hyperion, a 379.1-foot redwood discovered in 2006 up in the Redwood Creek drainage of Redwood National Park. "It's probably not that far from the original tallest tree that they found in the ’60s," says Stenger. "So for National Geographic, this is sort of a coming back full circle story because they actually funded that expedition in the early ’60s, and they did full coverage of it, and that led to the push that created Redwood National Park."

The October National Geographic cover story follows adventurer/researcher Mike Fay and his assistant Lindsey Holm as they walked the 1,000-plus-mile range of the redwood tree, from Big Sur, Calif., to the Chetco River in Oregon, measuring trees and such and talking to homesteaders, park rangers, foresters and anyone else in their path about redwoods and forest management. They started The Redwood Transect on Sept. 3, 2007, and ended, 333 days later, on July 29, 2008, sleeping out every night.

Fay, you might recall, is that guy who data-collect-trekked through Africa's Congo Basin, and his redwood transect was modeled after that "Megatransect."

As they passed through the redwood's world, Fay and Holm were joined off and on by a number of folks, including our very own redwood scientist, Humboldt State's Steve Sillett. Famed National Geographic photographer Nick Nichols shot footage for the feature -- Orick residents know Nichols because he set up house in their town for six months.

Other local folks also wandered in and out of the transect story. Jim Able, of James Able Forestry Consultants, Inc., in Eureka, recalls taking Fay and his team out onto a couple of his company's projects to show them the Able way of thinning a forest to produce big, healthy trees, minimal impacts and a sustainable ecosystem.

"He liked what we did," says Able. "It appealed to him. He said, ‘Well, why doesn't everyone do it this way?' I said, ‘This is private property we're talking about, and everyone has different ideas of what they want to do with their property."

Able, likewise, was impressed by Fay and Holm's avid absorption of every possible piece of forest management lore they could arrange to encounter. And also by their footwear.

"He and Lindsey walked the entire length of the redwoods in a pair of Birkenstocks -- no socks," Able says.

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Heidi Walters

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Heidi Walters has been a staff writer with the North Coast Journal since 2005.

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