Sequoia National Park Is On Fire (Photo Essay)
The KNP Complex fire is threatening thousands of ancient sequoias, some dating back more than 2,000 years.
It feels like almost all of my favorite places in California have burned down or been threatened by wild fires this summer. First, the Dixie Fire decimated Seneca and a substantial portion of Plumas County. Next the Caldor Fire nearly lit up South Lake Tahoe. And now, the KNP Complex fire is threatening thousands of giant sequoias in the national park named after the ancient trees.
Known as “little Yosemite” to some people, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks are home to the largest trees (by volume) on the planet, the oldest of which date back more than 2,000 years.
Firefighters are hoping that prescribed burns — fires set intentionally to clear out fuels — can save the ancient trees.
My girlfriend Doy and I first discovered little Yosemite several years ago and have been going back consistently ever since.
Fire is essential to the preservation of giant sequoias. The trees need it to reproduce and maintain their health. But high intensity fires can destroy them. "Once you get fire burning inside the tree, that will result in mortality," said Jon Wallace, the operations chief for the KNP Complex. Recent high severity fires have destroyed an unprecedented number of sequoias in recent years, according to the U.S. National Park Service. Two thirds of all giant sequoia groves across the Sierra Nevada experienced wildfires between 2015 and 2020.
It will be interesting to see what the landscape will look like after firefighters get the blaze under control. Either way, Doy and I will return.