SAN FRANCISCO — A San Francisco conservation group has been able to purchase Alder Creek that borders the Giant Sequoia National Monument, saving the private forest from development.

Alder Creek is the state's largest private giant Sequoia grove. It's home to hundreds of ancient giant Sequoia trees that was once targeted for homes and a ski resort.

Save the Redwoods League raised $15.65 million to buy the 530-acre Alder Creek Grove, which includes the 3,000-year-old Stagg Tree, which has a 34.7-foot diameter and is the fifth-largest tree in the world, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday.

Save the Redwoods president Sam Hodder, said they received donations from individuals and foundations in all 50 states and 30 other countries after announcing in September they planned to buy the largest privately owned grove of sequoias. The purchase was completed on Dec. 31.

"This is the best of what's left. This is a truly magical place, and it comes at a time when people needed some good news — something that protects the beauty of the world," Hodder said.

The grove contains 483 giant sequoias that are at least 6 feet wide. The ancient stand is about the same size as Yosemite's famous Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias, which was established in 1864 and helped inspire the creation of the National Park System.

The Redwoods League now plans to spend another $4.75 million on ecosystem studies and restoration work. Hodder said trails will be built and a public access plan will be developed over the next five to 10 years.

Hodder said the league plans to keep Alder Creek for five to 10 years before eventually turning it over to the U.S. Forest Service to become part of the Giant Sequoia National Monument.

Hodder told the Chronicle the purchase was the culmination of 20 years of negotiations. “It really was an extraordinary and inspiring outpouring of generosity,” Hodder told the Chronicle about the donations received.

“It was incredible,” said Becky Bremser, the league’s director of land protection about the donations, to the Los Angeles Times. “We are so thrilled. And so proud.”

Outlets ranging from Oprah’s magazine to the Taipei Times ran stories on the league's effort to buy Alder Creek.

The Los Angeles Times reported more than 8,500 donors from all 50 states and 30 countries donated. The Times reported John Woollam, a league supporter from Nebraska, and Ralph Eschenbach and Carol Joy Provan of Woodside, Calif., made significant contributions.

The transaction saves from logging or development 500 old-growth trees.

Owned since 1946 by the Rouch family, Alder Creek is surrounded by Giant Sequoia National Monument and Sequoia National Forest.

The family logged the mountain land, opened a short-lived ski operation and developed a small resort community called Sequoia Crest among the big trees but they left most of the tree alone.

Along with 1,000 to 2,000-year–old trees, Alder Creek contains a number of young Sequoias, 50 to 200 years old.

The 34.7-foot diameter Stagg Tree, named in 1960 after legendary football player and coach Amos Alonzo Stagg, is older and bigger than the Mariposa Grove’s Grizzly Giant, which is 30 feet in diameter.

The Alder Creek purchase means only 739 acres of Giant Sequoias are now privately owned.

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