Redwood trees are living witnesses to our human history, sometimes existing for as long as three thousand yeargs. Out of respect for their ancient heritage, and after an extended period of aggressive logging in the late 1800s, Theodore Roosevelt championed protection efforts that led to the formation of the National Park Service. Pioneering photographers such as Carleton Watkins and Eadweard Muybridge also fostered preservation through their striking images, many of which influenced the United States Congress. Crippens and LeMaistre honor the link between the history of photography and conservation by retracing the paths and methods of the early photographic masters.
Today less than 5% of old-growth coast redwood forest remains in the Northern Hemisphere, most living in the Redwood National and State Parks of the United States. Since redwoods propagate through their burls, poached trees’ ability to reproduce is threatened. They also become vulnerable to disease. Decades may pass before the full impact on the forest can be assessed. Live Burls marks the conflict between entitled consumption and celebration of natural resources at the heart of the American ethos.