In 1995, Steve Sillett received a Ph.D. in botany from Oregon State University, in Corvallis. Soon afterward, he took his present job, at Humboldt, and began to explore the old-growth redwood canopy.
No scientist had been there before.
The tallest redwoods were regarded as inaccessible towers, shrouded in foliage and almost impossible to climb, since the lowest branches on a redwood can be twenty-five stories above the ground. From the moment he entered redwood space, Steve Sillett began to see things that no one had imagined. The general opinion among biologists at the time -- this was just eight years ago -- was that the redwood canopy was a so-called "redwood desert" that contained not much more than the branches of redwood trees.
Instead, Sillett discovered a lost world above Northern California.