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Mother Lode Non-Profit Trusted With Possibly Oldest Living Tree

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Sonora, CA – The Mother Lode Land Trust (MLLT) is now the new steward of the Bennett Juniper located on the Stanislaus National Forest in Tuolumne County, one of the oldest known trees in the world.

After caring for the evergreen since 1987, the Save the Redwoods League out of San Francisco announced this month that it had donated the more than 3,000-year-old tree and its surrounding three-acre property to the trust based out of Jackson.

“When Save the Redwoods League protects a forest, often, that’s just the beginning of the story, not the end,” said Anthony Castaños, land stewardship manager for Save the Redwoods League. “After more than 30 years of stewarding the Bennett Juniper property, we’re pleased to convey this remarkable place to Mother Lode Land Trust. The organization has the capacity and local ties to ensure its future most readily.”

The Bennett Juniper tree is the largest known juniper tree in existence at 86 feet tall and 39.9 feet around. Other western juniper trees average 50–70 feet in height, according to league officials. The tree is named after naturalist Clarence Bennett, who studied western juniper trees from Oregon to Mexico. It is among the oldest living trees in the world. It is estimated to be between 3,000 and 4,000 years old, or possibly even older.

“The Bennett Juniper is an unrivaled specimen of western juniper. This gnarled and knotted tree has withstood drought, hard winters and lightning strikes for thousands of years,” said Ellie Routt, executive director of the Mother Lode Land Trust. “MLLT’s ownership of this property ensures local oversight and permanent protection so that everyone can have the chance to see this amazing tree.”

Along with the property and tree, the League has also donated $40,000 in funding toward the juniper’s long-term stewardship to the trust.