Volunteers plant seedlings in giant sequoia grove hit hard in Castle Fire

Section of Sequoia Crest burned so hot that it will need help to regenerate

SEGI seedling
A recently planted giant sequoia seedling in Sequoia Crest. Photo by Alicia Embry/USFS

About 125 volunteers recently turned out to help plant trees in an area of the giant sequoia range hit hard by the Castle Fire in 2020. The Sequoia Crest community effort was organized by the Porterville Rotary Club and supported by American Forests and the Sequoia National Forest. 

The Sequoia Crest community, which sits right next to the League’s Alder Creek property, was hit hard in the Castle Fire. Only about 50 of the community’s 105 homes survived, and several mature giant sequoias were killed in sections of high-severity fire. The fire burned through this part of the grove at a severity that destroyed many of the existing seed bank, preventing natural new growth. 

kat barton sequoia crest planting
Kat Barton from American Forests is all smiles as she plants another seedling. Photo by Alicia Embry/USFS

Other entities that helped out included CAL FIRE, the Tulare County Sherriff’s Office, and Porterville College. Save the Redwoods League provided use of our property for staging seedlings and parking, and Tim Borden, our sequoia restoration and stewardship manager, helped put seedlings in the ground. 

“It was a beautiful gathering of people who have grown up in these groves and have known them their whole lives. It’s important to them they come back strong,” said Borden. “Our hope is a lot of these seedlings will grow to replace the old trees killed in the fire.” 

volunteers sequoia crest planting
Volunteers work on a heavily burned hillside in Sequoia Crest. Photo by Alicia Embry/USFS

Volunteers planted giant sequoia, white fir, sugar pine, and ponderosa pine. Some additional planting also took place in a section of Alder Creek grove overseen by the National Forest Service. 

The Castle Fire also caused major damage to giant sequoias on the League’s property, where the League has begun a recovery regimen in areas where high-severity fire resulted in substantial sequoia mortality.

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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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2 Responses to “Volunteers plant seedlings in giant sequoia grove hit hard in Castle Fire”

  1. Fred M. Cain

    Another point I’d like to make here with regards to the photo showing the girl planting the seedling, notice all the standing dead timber in the background. Those dead trees really need to be removed in worst way.

    If left standing, they will eventually fall down littering the forest floor creating a high fuel load which could result in a new wildfire in a few years. Such an event will kill the new seedlings.

    This is exactly what happened on Mount Lemmon near Tucson after the devastating Aspen fire of 2003. There was by far too much dead timber left on the mountain which eventually dried out and burned very hot in the even worse Bighorn Fire of 2020. The Bighorn Fire killed thousands of pine and fir saplings that had begun regenerating. Now the process will have to start all over again. That is really a tragic shame. I’d hate to see this happen in the Sequoia groves.

    Regards,
    Fred M. Cain

    Reply
  2. Fred M. Cain

    Once again, I would STRONGLY recommend watering the seedlings several times this summer if it gets really dry. I have planted many seedlings on my property here in the Upper Midwest and have found that even here, most seedlings cannot survive through their first summer without some watering. If it gets really dry, they might even need some watering during the second summer.

    Fixing chicken wire around the seedlings can also prevent rabbits and other herbivores from eating them.

    Regards,
    Fred M. Cain

    Reply

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