90-Year-Old Man Urges Public to Help Him Buy Back 400-Acre Redwood Forest Property

by Emily Morgan

A man is pleading for help in getting his 400 acres of land back. According to Charles Bello, he’s desperately trying to buy back his Redwood Forest property that belonged to him and his wife.

Per reports, 90-year-old Bello was the proud owner of 400 acres of immaculate Redwood Forest in Mendocino County, California. He and his late wife purchased the land decades ago, in 1968. They lived together in an off-grid cabin on the property for over half a century.

However, in 2021, Bello gave the property to Humbolt State University Foundation so that the university could preserve the property. Now, Bello alleges that the university violated several conditions that were part of their initial agreement.

Bello is now asking for the public’s help to raise funds to get his property back from the school. However, he says a large chunk of funds will go to his lawyer fees.

“I think they came in kind of innocently taking on something that they couldn’t handle, and now that they’ve got it, they don’t want to give it up,” Bello said in an interview this past February. “I am now approaching 90 years old, I don’t have that much life to me. All I’m asking for is for them to let me have my land back so that I can continue the vision and legacy that I’ve done for 53 years.”

Now, Bello admits that if the legal battle carries on, he doesn’t expect to live to see the end of it. As a result, he’s made it known that he wishes the land to be preserved in his Redwood Forest Institute nonprofit foundation to find suitable caretakers after he passes away.

“The legal process actually works for people with a lot of money, and two things that I don’t have is money or time. Under the pressure and strain that I’m going through right now, I doubt I’ll live another six months, but I’m determined. I hired an attorney and this is going to continue.”

Frank Whitlach, executive director of the HSU Foundation, said the foundation is willing to let him reclaim the property. Still, as a nonprofit organization, they must do so under a legal process.

“We decided months ago, that we would be willing to return the property under some sort of appropriate legal process, and have been working to do that ever since our challenges. Over the course of that time, the donor has had multiple attorneys, and we make a couple of steps forward, and then a new attorney comes on, and we’re back at zero,” Whitlach said.

Whitlach added that Bello has not allowed people to stay at the property for extended periods, leading to foundation staff and experts being unable to work on the land. Read more about Bello’s mission to reclaim his land.