California Wildfires Destroyed Thousands of Sequoias This Year: ‘Another Huge Loss’

by Michael Freeman
(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

To say the California wildfires were brutal this year is putting it lightly. Not only did many of them ravage the land and force people to evacuate, they also devastated the sequoia population there. With thousands of them being consumed by fire, the state suffered a huge loss.

To be specific, California lost almost a fifth of its giant sequoia population to wildfires within the past two years, Deadline reports. Fires destroyed them both in Sequoia National Park and surrounding Sequoia National Forest. Experts provide a broad estimate of the destroyed trees, with the total somewhere between 2,261 and 3,637. Regardless of the specific number, roughly a third of California’s groves suffered big losses.

Last year was even worse, with 7,500 to 10,400 sequoias falling to wildfires. Combining that with this year, the total almost reaches a staggering 20 percent. More than just the ecosystem, this could affect the economy. The parks and trees themselves often serve as settings for television and film projects. Additionally, tourists often come to see them. After all, they are the Earth’s biggest trees.

It should be noted sequoias are actually quite resilient and can survive most fires. However, the ones in California lately have been so intense and high the trees couldn’t tolerate them.

Clay Jordan, superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, commented on how crucial it is to preserve the giant trees. “The sobering reality is that we have seen another huge loss within a finite population of these iconic trees that are irreplaceable in many lifetimes. As spectacular as these trees are we really can’t take them for granted. To ensure that they’re around for our kids and grandkids and great-grandkids, some action is necessary.”

National Parks Service States California Wildfires Damaged Thousands of Trees and Issue Warning About ‘Hazard Trees’

Sequoias were far from the only victims of the California wildfires this year. Not only were thousands of trees damaged or destroyed from wildfires, many of them now pose risks to people, being dubbed “hazard trees.”

The National Parks Service (NPS) issued a statement last month detailing some of the damage the fires inflicted. In addition to the tens of thousands of trees destroyed by the fires, about 10,000 of the damaged ones are along Generals Highway in northern California. That in and of itself is bad, but the damage inflicted to them has made them “hazard trees.”

The statement details what they are, saying “Hazard trees—weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire—have a high probability to fail in part or whole and have the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services.”

Though the NPS deployed several saw crews and teams to handle the trees, it will obviously be a long endeavor. The NPS urges drivers to exercise caution and watch out for road closures in the meantime.