Sequoia cloning project aims at California and Oregon
The Archangel Ancient Tree Archive has focused its attention on the giant sequoia.
If a giant coast redwood falls in the forest, there’s a good chance Dave Milarch would hear it.
The beefy, Camel-smoking fourth-generation Michigan tree nurseryman is on a mission to clone the world’s oldest, largest trees. He’s now turned his attention to the gigantic Sequoias that dot northern California and southern Oregon, with hopes of reseeding a new generation of redwood forest.
Collecting tree DNA is not just a science project for Milarch, who has made presentations to a group of NASA scientists and, earlier this month, to opinion leaders at a TEDx event in Mountain View. Although his nonprofit, Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, has cloned 50 other species, the 300-foot-plus, 3,000-year-old coast redwoods are key, he said, to cleaning the air — and thus stopping many human diseases.
“These big trees trump anything, everything,” he said.
Milarch has segmented the 500-mile existing range into 100-mile corridors, taking 20 samples from each. His team of climbers, including his son, in the fall rope their way to the treetops to collect sun needles, which Milarch says are the best source of cloning material.
Now Archangel is starting to branch out — literally. A foot-tall offspring of a cloned redwood was planted recently in Orinda, Milarch said. The exact location is secret. And he’s got redwood seedlings headed for other coastal zones as far away as Ireland.
Ultimately, Milarch could be a kind of a redwood Johnny Appleseed. Archangel has 11 more clones of giant Sequoias ready for planting, creating a model in Northern California, he said, for restoring lost old-growth forests.
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