© 2024 | Jefferson Public Radio
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland, OR 97520
541.552.6301 | 800.782.6191
Listen | Discover | Engage a service of Southern Oregon University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

As It Was: Giant Redwoods Honor Earth’s Largest Mammal

Blue whales were on the brink of extinction in 1978, when organizations that included Oregonians to Protect Whales and Greenpeace sponsored an Oregon initiative to prevent state and local governments from buying products from whaling nations.

To publicize their petition drive, the conservationists offered to plant a memorial grove of redwood trees, the largest plants on earth, to honor the blue whale, the largest animal on earth. The Medford City Council accepted the offer.

The grove was planted at a ceremony held June 3, 1978, at the corner of West McAndrews Road and Columbus Avenue.  The public viewed three films about whales at the City Hall chambers and Jackson House across the street from the new trees, and the chairman of the Medford Parks and Recreation Commission, Mary Greenman, accepted the trees on behalf of the city. The coordinator of Oregonians to Protect Whales, Michael Gannon, spoke on the importance of helping the whales.

Although the initiative failed to gather enough signatures to be placed on the ballot, no blue whale has been purposely killed since 1978 and the population has stabilized. The redwood trees, in a grove mixed with pines, are nearly 50 feet tall today.

Source: Memorial Grove to be Planted." Mail Tribune 31 May 1978 [Medford Oregon] . Print. List of Oregon Ballot Measures. Wikipedia, 17 Oct. 2013. Web. 9 Nov. 2013. .

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.