The new year is off to a beautiful start in our Point Arena forest. After a year of unimaginable loss and change, we’re hopeful for this new chapter and thankful for everyone that’s been a part of the country’s first memorial forest. We’re building something that will be around for hundreds of years and we’re grateful to all of those who were with us while we all got through one of the hardest moments. Going into 2021, we’re excited to welcome families, friends, and their loved ones to the forest and continue to foster a space that will be around for generations.
The winter season has brought new life to the forest in Point Arena. Below are some of the exciting updates that our forest stewards have shared with us.
Foraging Candy Cap mushrooms
Winter in Point Arena
Recent rainfall has left the forest covered in mushrooms — a sign of vibrant forest health. Our team of forest stewards have seen various species recently, including edible varieties like candy cap, porcini, black chanterelles, and turkey tails. Each of these mushrooms has its own flavor profile that makes it desirable to local mushroom foragers and mycologists. Candy caps are incredibly fragrant and taste like maple syrup; porcini are a staple in Italian food because of their earthy, nutty flavor; black chanterelles are known to taste smoky and rich, and turkey tails are usually used medicinally or in soups or tea.
Mushrooms aren’t the only thing lining the forest floor this season. Every few years our douglas firs produce an above-average number of pinecones. “Cone years” are completely normal and typically a response to arid climate or tree pests. When it happens, you’ll simply notice more cones on the ground than usual. Our pine and redwood trees have been producing a large number of cones as well, so for those visiting Point Arena soon, there may be an extra crunch under your feet.
We’ve been enjoying a lot of winter rain and look forward to watching our seasonal creek run again!
Valerie and Todd Galloway with their dogs Lilly and Candy who are wearing matching Better Place Forests bandanas
Welcoming our community back to the forest
Keeping our forests open during a global pandemic posed a few problems. After the shelter-in-place order in March, we had to pause in-forest visits for everyone’s safety. Following local and statewide CDC guidelines and social distancing protocols, we were able to partially reopen in July for those who had to reschedule because of COVID-19. In October, with our staff and customer’s health in mind, we were able to resume full operations — under new covid-safe protocols. Regardless of the obstacles we faced, we hosted 43 memorial ceremonies over the course of the year. We’re thankful that despite the challenges, we were once again able to invite families to the forest to commemorate their loved ones and lay them to rest among the redwoods.
“Thank you so much for making our memorial ceremony the best it could possibly be!! How many times in life can one say everything was perfect!! Well, this time we can!” – Point Arena customer, Tom
Additionally, we were able to host 130 forest visits. These visits included first-time visitors coming to choose their tree, returning customers viewing their future final resting place, and family members paying their respects in the forest. Since re-opening for visits, we’ve been gifting our guests complimentary Better Place Forests masks, and bandanas for our four-legged friends.
New signage around the Point Arena forest
Creating an accessible space for friends and family
To ensure that our forest is accessible for everyone, we’ve been installing additional signage throughout the forest. A steward is always available to guide you to your tree, but with the new signage, you can spend time on your own hiking or exploring through our extensive trail system — communing with the forest however you see fit. The new signage makes it easier to navigate to your chosen tree while being minimally invasive to the forest.
Winter is an incredible time to experience Point Arena. Book a free forest tour to see why people are choosing to create a legacy in our memorial forests instead of a traditional cemetery.