Voters could decide to ban the cutting of any California tree that began growing before the state entered the union in 1850 if a coalition of social, religious, civic and conservation organizations succeeds in putting the initiative on next year's ballot.
The measure would apply to all state-owned forests and private land, but could not restrict logging on federal land. It is opposed by the state's logging industry.
The coalition estimated that less than 3% of native forests in California are still standing, and said most of them are protected in state parks. The initiative would safeguard the remaining ancient and old-growth trees.
The Citizens Campaign for Old Growth Preservation said supporters include singer Bonnie Raitt and actor Woody Harrelson.