As a major fire continues to blaze thousands of acres in California, the National Park Service is stepping up its efforts to protect natural gems including the world’s largest trees.
As The Los Angeles Times reports, two separate fires known as the Colony and Paradise fires merged into one last week, now known as the KNP Complex fire, and made its way to Sequoia National Park. While this could be cause for major alarm, state firefighters are not only valiantly fighting the blaze, but taking a few extra precautions to protect the sequoias, and in particular, General Sherman which is 275 feet tall and more than 36 feet in diameter.
“It’s a very significant area for many, many people, so a lot of special effort is going into protecting this grove,” Rebecca Paterson, spokesperson for the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, told the LA Times.
Though sequoias are known for their hardiness and ability to survive smaller fires, officials aren’t taking any chances. To protect General Sherman, and others like it, firefighters have taken the unprecedented step in wrapping the massive tree in aluminum-based burn-resistant material, or what essentially breaks down to some seriously massive tin foil.“We basically told the fire crews to treat all our special sequoias like they were buildings and wrap them all up, and rake all the litter away and roll away the heavy logs,” Christy Brigham, chief of resource management and science for the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, additionally shared with CNN.
It’s a step that is most certainly necessary because according to the NPS, “Two-thirds of all giant sequoia grove acreage across the Sierra Nevada has burned in wildfires between 2015 and 2020,” the organization shared with the network. And, perhaps more astonishingly, a single fire in 2020 destroyed up to 14% of the massive trees, according to a report by the National Park Service.
Though it can be easy to feel helpless, there are ways to assist and protect these trees, even from afar. Over the weekend, The Sequoia Parks Conservancy announced the KNP Complex Fire Recovery Fund, which will go to support the park in its effort to “rebuild trails, protect sequoia groves and meadows, safeguard cultural and historic features, reestablish access to Crystal Cave, restore wildlife habitat, and more.”
“As hundreds of firefighters from across the country converge to battle the growing wildfire complex, Sequoia Parks Conservancy is rallying the public to raise funds for recovery efforts in the park,” the organization said in a statement. “You can help us spread the word and support the recovery by starting a fundraiser on social media, creating a crowdfunding campaign, or reaching out to your family and friends. We truly appreciate all the support that you can bring to this challenge.”