Thick bark enables giant sequoia to withstand lower-severity ground fires. Photo by Kristen Shive

Wildfire Fund will help redwood forests meet today’s challenges

Coast redwood and giant sequoia forests are fire adapted and have been thriving, fire-resilient ecosystems for millions of years. Nonetheless, with forests as vulnerable and strained as they are today by climate change and 170 years of commercial logging, that characteristic resilience is facing an unprecedented test. While California has seen several heavy wildfire seasons in recent years, the fires of 2020 were unprecedented in their severity, and their impact on the coast redwoods and giant sequoia.

More than 4.2 million total acres burned in California, resulting in loss of life and extensive property damage. Precious old-growth coast redwoods and ancient giant sequoia forests were impacted, including Big Basin Redwoods State Park, which is closed indefinitely.

Wildfires were extensive in the coast redwood and giant sequoia forests. Fire impacted about 5% of the coast redwood range (more than 81,000 acres), and 9.5% of the remaining ancient coast redwood footprint burned (11,200 acres out of the 118,000 acres standing today). Fire reached about 35% of the giant sequoia range (more than 16,500 acres), much of it in the form of severe wildfire, killing hundreds of ancient giant sequoia. A great deal of park infrastructure was damaged.

Save the Redwoods League views wildfire as a top priority in our larger effort to protect and restore California’s redwood forests. We’re moving quickly to ensure that the properties we manage are prepared for a future with more extreme wildfire, and we’re encouraging state and federal land managers to ramp up efforts to make their coast redwood and giant sequoia landscapes more fire resilient. And we’re working closely with California State Parks and other agencies to rebuild park infrastructure damaged by fires so that these vital facilities can reopen as soon as possible.

You can support these important efforts with a donation to the League’s Wildfire Fund today.

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Today, it takes a community including private landowners, parks, local communities, scientists and our supporters, to safeguard redwood forests. Together, we protect redwood forests from threats such as unsustainable development; restore the forests we have lost; and connect people to these towering wonders of nature. With your help, we can leave the forests — and the world — in a better place than we found them.

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