Could we recreate a famous redwood navigation beacon?

The front cover of today’s Chronicle has a fascinating story about the once mighty redwood forests that cloaked the hills of the East Bay.  Imagine redwoods with the girth of a small house rising about the hills. Some were of such stature that early mariners used them to take bearings and avoid dangerous rocks. But by the 1860s they were gone. And a few years later the US Navy had to blast one submerged rock — Blossom Rock — out of the water as the redwoods used to avoid them had been cut down and turned to lumber.

Spot the Last Ancient Redwood in the East Bay (E.Burns)
Spot the Grandfather Tree — the last ancient redwood in the East Bay (E.Burns)
Peter Fimrite and Todd Keeler-Wolfe at the base of the tree (E.Burns)
Peter Fimrite and Todd Keeler-Wolfe at the base of the tree (E.Burns)

The stumps still stand, as does one remnant giant. And that reawakened an idea I have had for a while. The eyes of the  world will look towards San Francisco this summer as the America’s Cup comes to town. What better way to celebrate the natural heritage of the Bay Area than by creating a temporary memorial to these trees. Imagine a beacon at the sight of the stump — a tower rising 300 feet above the East Bay hills, lit up at night, so it can once again guide the sailors navigating the Bay.

It would also serve as a reminder of what used to be here — and perhaps what could be here once more if we nurture the remaining redwoods of the East Bay hills.

I challenge Oracle to make this happen, working with the good folks at the East Bay Regional Park District. I am more than happy to help out!

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