California forest fires over the past five years have claimed nearly 20% of the world’s largest Sequoia. Frequent fires in Sequoia National Park and the surrounding forests have claimed a third of California’s groves.
Last year alone, forest fires claimed nearly 10,400 trees out of the 75,000 trees native to the western side of the Sierra Nevada area.
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Climate change has been blamed for the recent status change. High temperatures leave dry tree trunks under the canopy, creating a mature environment for fires.
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“The sober reality is that we’ve seen another huge loss in a limited population of these iconic trees, which are irreplaceable for many lifetimes,” said Clay Jordan, superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. “As spectacular as these trees are, we really can not take them for granted. To ensure that they are present for our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, action is needed. “
Most of the giant sequoias take hundreds and even thousands of years to grow to maturity. Once they are destroyed, there is no hope of making them grow again in our lifetime. Additionally, these species are large carbon sinks, and their combustion releases tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.
After fires in the castle and the SQF Complex, officials decided to take some steps to save the giant trees. For example, the General Sherman tree, the largest living tree on earth, was wrapped in a foil blanket. A fireproof gel was dropped on tree canopies across the parks, sprinklers diluted trunks, and combustible material was removed from trees.
In the last five years, the state has experienced the largest fires in history. Last year, California experienced the largest forest fires in history in terms of burned area. This year has so far brought the second largest amount of land that has been burned.
Lead image via Unsplash