Sequoia National Park Says Nearly 20% of Sequoia Trees Have Been Killed By Wildfires

by Shelby Scott

This year’s wildfire season has been historic throughout the western region of the United States. Now, we are just beginning to see wildfires diminish, less frequently capturing national headlines. Nevertheless, Sequoia National Park revealed 20% of sequoia trees have been killed by massive blazes over the last two years.

According to the Associated Press, lightning-sparked wildfires in particular have killed thousands of trees. Overall, this year’s blazes capped a two-year death toll marking the demise of a fifth of the planet’s largest trees.

That said, the historic loss of the sequoia trees is detrimental. However, it also points to the growing effects of climate change. The American West has seen the predominance of wildfires for generations. After all, the region is famous for its drier, more barren landscapes. However, as climate change has thrived, the annual blazes have become increasingly more intense.

Now, the news outlet states the region’s sequoia trees, once considered nearly fire proof, have begun to suffer. As have much of our planet’s natural environments. Further, climate change has been an ongoing global issue for decades. But only now, have we finally begun to see the major effects take place. That is, especially as the Associated Press states California’s largest fires have only taken place within the last five years. Between 2020 and 2021 alone, the state saw the most acreage burned in history.

2015 saw Sequoia National Park’s ancient trees torched for the very first time. The results came as major drought struck the area. The ongoing drought later lead to the demise of thousands more giant sequoias in 2017. From there, things have gotten completely out of hand. For the first time ever, recent wildfires are causing conservationists to consider planting giant sequoia seedlings as climate change worsens.

Firefighters Fought to Protect Sequoia Trees with Dire Measures

As I said, 2021 has been a historic year for wildfires. Statistics fall only second to last year’s blazes as 2020’s wildfires burned a historic 9.5 million acres. While this year’s wildfires consumed numerous natural and manmade structures and environments, wild land firefighters were forced to take measures we haven’t seen before as California’s Sequoia National Park fell under threat.

According to reports, this year saw the loss of more than 3,000 sequoias. Last year, 2020 resulted in the loss of between 7,500 and 10,400 giant trees.

As such, firefighters began wrapping the most iconic of the park’s trees in fire retardant blankets. Simultaneously, more traditional precautions were taken with crews sweeping forest floors clean of potential tinder. They also created manmade fire lines which the crews could better control as a way to slow the growing wildfires.

Overall, their efforts were admirable, especially as more and more wildfires caused crews to become thinly stretched, not to mention exhausted.

Hopefully, as the last two years have seen the regrettable demise of our nation’s most ancient trees, we can find a solution to both protect the sequoias and help begin to reverse/combat the growing effects of climate change.