California's Massive, Ancient Trees Again in Danger

Wildfires bear down on giant sequoias
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2021 1:45 AM CDT
Wildfires Bear Down on California's Massive, Ancient Sequoias
Smoke from the Windy Fire, left, rises above a giant sequoia in the Sequoia National Forest, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021. The fire has burned into the Peyrone Sequoia Grove and continues to threaten other sequoias, according to fire officials.   (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Some of the largest trees on the planet are in danger as wildfires rage in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks in California. Some of the sequoia trees in the Giant Forest area were being wrapped with fire-resistant aluminum material Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reports. The area around some of the grove's 2,000 or so sequoias was also cleared of vegetation. Similar prep work, the same that would be done for a structure, was also being carried out in the Giant Forest Museum area as well as on other sequoias throughout the parks, the AP reports.

The old-growth trees are massive; the park's 275-foot-tall General Sherman Tree is the biggest tree on Earth by volume: 52,508 cubic feet. The KNP Complex fires are currently burning in the parks; as Cal Fire explains, they comprise the Colony, Paradise, and Cabin fires, all of which were ignited Sept. 9 during a lightning storm. Other wildfires are also active in the area around the parks themselves, including the Windy Fire in Sequoia National Forest, which was also started by lightning, CBS 5 reports.

While giant sequoias—which are among the oldest living things in the world and only grow along a narrow 260-mile strip on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountain range—are fire-resistant, the higher-intensity fires increasingly happening due to climate change are harder on them. The Castle Fire last year destroyed thousands of the trees, devastating 10% of the total population. (One tactic being used to protect the sequoias involves fighting fire with fire.)

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