“It’s a Moonscape” — 10% of the World’s Giant Sequoias Wiped Out By One Wildfire

21 min
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In this aerial image, dead trees burned in a wildfire stand near the Lake Oroville reservoir during the California drought emergency on May 25, 2021 in Oroville, California. - "Now, when there's smoke here, everybody panics," said Steve Crowder, mayor of the small town of Paradise that was almost wiped off the map by California's deadly 2018 wildfires. Across California, deadly infernos have only expanded in size since that traumatic year -- in 2020, some 4.3 million acres went up in smoke. Now, the western US state is bracing for the worst as yet another dry summer approaches. Already five times more vegetation has burned this year compared to the same time last year. (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

One tenth of the world's mature giant sequoias were killed by the Castle Fire that scorched the southern Sierra Nevada late last year after a flurry of lightning strikes according to a new draft report prepared by the National Park Service. That’s an estimated 7,500 to 10,000 trees that had previously survived thousands of years of wildfires. Giant sequoias capture carbon dioxide from human pollution, provide critical habitat for wildlife and protect the watershed that communities rely on. We’ll talk about how far-reaching the consequences of losing these trees could be, the impact of this year’s extreme drought conditions on sequoia seedling regrowth and the outlook for sequoias in a changing climate.

Guests:

Christy Brigham, chief of resources management and science, Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks

Paul Ringgold, chief program officer, Save the Redwoods League

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