In California, Even Fire-Resistant Trees Need to Be Protected From Flames

Someplace between a childhood trip to Sequoia Nationwide Park and a school biology class, I latched on to a single reality about California’s big sequoias: They’re immune to wildfires.

These historical timber have survived for therefore lengthy as a result of they’d discovered a approach to coexist with a lethal menace. Or so I believed.

Final summer season, a single fireplace killed tens of hundreds of sequoias within the Sierra Nevada. And this month, blazes in and round Sequoia Nationwide Park are lapping on the bases of those huge timber, worrying the firefighters who’re scrambling to shield them.

The ever-increasing depth of fires in California has change into an excessive amount of even for the sequoias, which developed to survive — even thrive — in fires. The hazards prompted firefighters final week to wrap Common Sherman, believed to be the biggest tree on this planet, in flame-retardant foil in a bid to reserve it from flames.

Consultants say the fires that sequoias endured for hundreds of years have been largely low grade. Thick bark and sky-high crowns protected the timber from critical harm. Warmth from the flames even helped them reproduce by releasing seeds from their cones.

However now, California’s sequoia groves are coping with the implications of a century of fireplace suppression that has left forests dense with flammable vegetation. Drought and rising temperatures have killed different crops and turned them into kindling.

This has led to fires burning on an unprecedented scale. Between 2015 and 2020, two-thirds of the enormous sequoia groves throughout the Sierra Nevada have been scorched in wildfires, in contrast with 1 / 4 within the earlier century, in accordance to the Nationwide Park Service.

Sequoias could have tailored to fires, “however not to the confluence of modifications which have occurred over the previous 100 years,” Joan Dudney, a forest ecologist who has labored in Sequoia Nationwide Park, informed me.

Final summer season, the Fort fireplace killed off as many as 10,600 giant sequoias, or 14 % of the inhabitants, in accordance to the Nationwide Park Service. A few of the timber, which develop solely in California, have been charred from their trunk to their crown.

That has firefighters working to keep away from a repeat of final yr. They’ve been clearing brush from the bases of timber and swaddling them in reflective fire-resistant blankets which might be additionally used to shield properties in California.

As of Monday night, probably the most well-known timber in Sequoia Nationwide Park remained protected, together with Common Sherman. Firefighters and tree-lovers will nervously wait to see what Tuesday brings.

For extra:


President Biden introduced on Monday that his administration would draft guidelines on office risks from warmth, one of many first authorities responses to an rising subject of analysis on the harms that staff face from rising temperatures.

Scorching situations on the job contribute not solely to extra circumstances of heatstroke and exhaustion, but additionally accidents from falls and the mishandling of equipment as a result of warmth makes it troublesome to focus.

A examine launched this summer season discovered that excessive warmth brought about 20,000 office accidents in California annually.

Learn the complete story from my colleague Coral Davenport.


In the present day’s journey tip comes from Janine Sprout, who recommends Bodie State Historic Park in Mono County:

“A well-preserved ghost city the place you are feeling the miners simply left. Peeking within the home windows for a glimpse of households sitting stagnant for many years offers nice leisure. Enthusiastic state park rangers give periodic historical past talks to fill within the blanks.”

Inform us about your favourite locations to go to in California. E-mail your ideas to [email protected] We’ll be sharing extra in upcoming editions of the publication.


For those who wander into Golden Gate Park at the moment, you could hear the fragile notes of a piano.

Beginning in the summertime of 2016, a dozen live performance pianos have been hidden inside the San Francisco Botanical Backyard annually. Sometimes, professionals play for about an hour a day, whereas anybody else can faucet the keys the remainder of the time, stories The San Francisco Chronicle.

After a 26-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, the pianos returned to the park on Friday. They’ll stay there by at the moment.


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