Redwood grove being loved to death

Awhile back, it used to be that the grouping of eight old-growth redwood trees deep within Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park near Crescent City, California could be reached only by following clues in a book about tree hunters. There were no direct hiking trails, and the nearest road was miles away.

Then, in 2011, someone uploaded a geotag marking the trees’ location online. As many as 50 people a day began finding their way to the grove and loving it to death.

The onslaught of tourists bushwhacking through the rain forest is slowly killing the giant trees, park officials say.

There are many trees in the park, but none quite as large as the titans. The biggest ones — Del Norte Titan, at 307 feet, and the 230-foot Lost Monarch — are the fourth- and fifth-largest known coastal redwoods in the world.

Visitors have stripped layers of bark from the redwoods’ trunks while posing for tree-hugging photos, destroyed huge swathes of ferns on the forest floor and left behind trash such as protein bar wrappers and plastic bottles. And the culprits aren’t hard to find, if the hundreds of geotagged photos on Instagram are any indication.

The damage can be reversed by building elevated walkways and viewing platforms, similar to the ones used at Muir Woods. But it’s going to cost more than $1.4 million.

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