Keeping an eye on fire burning near Sierra giant sequoia

Fires don't pose an immediate threat to sequoia groves in the vicinity

August wildfires have burned across more than a million acres in California. With regard to redwoods, nearly all of the attention has been paid to Santa Cruz, Sonoma, and Big Sur where fire entered coast redwood forests. But we’ve also been keeping watch over the SQF Complex Fire, formerly called the Castle Fire, burning in the Sequoia National Forest in the Sierra.

Map of Castle Fire in Sequoia National Forest
Above map shows the progress of the Castle Fire in the Sequoia National Forest.

As of yesterday, the fire was roughly two miles from Freeman Creek Grove of giant sequoia, but the fire is currently heading away from the grove in a northeast direction, into the wilderness and away from the giant sequoia groves.

Unlike their coast redwood cousins, giant sequoia lack the ability to sprout after fire, so a severe wildfire can outright kill these ancient trees. If a grove has been treated with prescribed burns to reduce fuel buildup and restore fire resilience, then we would not worry about wildfire burning into the grove. It could even be healthy for these fire-adapted trees. But where fire exclusion continues and there is over 100 years of fuels built up, a fire in the hot and dry part of the summer could burn too hot, and kill many of the ancient monarchs, a phenomena that is becoming more common.

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Since 1918, Save the Redwoods League has protected and restored redwood forests and connected people with their peace and beauty so these wonders of the natural world flourish.

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