Story at a glance
- A series of August lightning storms sparked many wildfires across the state, including the Castle fire, which swept into the Alder Creek Grove area in September and tore through approximately 20 giant sequoia groves.
- The Los Angeles Times reports sequoia experts estimate hundreds and maybe more than 1,000 of the massive trees were destroyed in the wildfire.
- “The fire could have put a noticeable dent in the world’s supply of big sequoias,” Nate Stephenson, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, told the news outlet.
A record-breaking California wildfire season that has burned through more than 4 million acres across the state devastated hundreds of towering sequoia trees on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada, the Los Angeles Times reports.
A series of August lightning storms sparked many wildfires across the state, including the Castle Fire, which swept into the Alder Creek Grove area in September and tore through approximately 20 giant sequoia groves where the towering trees grow naturally.
The blaze burned more than 174,000 acres in parts of the Sequoia National Forest, Giant Sequoia National Monument, Sequoia National Park and other areas, according to officials.
The Los Angeles Times reports sequoia experts do not know how many of the trees — which have been growing in the area for well more than 500 years — were destroyed in the fire but estimate the number is certainly in the hundreds and could surpass 1,000.
“The fire could have put a noticeable dent in the world’s supply of big sequoias,” Nate Stephenson, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, told the news outlet.
Their thick bark and high branches protect them from flames while their cones release seeds when they are exposed to high temperatures — attributes that have allowed the trees to withstand hundreds of years of forest fires. The monarch sequoias are designed to weather and thrive in typical wildfire conditions. The trees can survive even if only 5 percent of their crowns remain unscorched from the flames of a fire.
But a yearslong drought that occurred from 2012 through 2016 coupled with rising temperatures have resulted in more intense wildfires that are now taking their toll on the enormous sequoias, according to the news outlet.
The Save the Redwoods League, a nonprofit group whose mission is to protect and restore redwood and giant sequoia trees, owns 530 acres of the Alder Creek grove and estimated 80 sequoias on the property were killed. The trees ranged from 500 years old to well over 1,000 years old, the Los Angeles Times reported.
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