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Burned tree in Redwood National Park.

Where do forests come from?

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Whenever I’m out in the forest, I can’t help but think about how it all got started.  Even though the redwoods may seem timeless and unchanging, they almost always began in turmoil.  These periods of rapid change are known as Continued

The ancient tree known as “Treebeard” has often been used as a traveler camp, and though burned from the inside many times, it has survived with some portions left dead from the fires. Photo by Mark Andre, Environmental Services

Old-Growth Redwood Burns in Arcata

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“Transient Camp Causes Fire in Old-Growth Redwood Tree,” reads the headline posted by the City of Arcata at www.arcataeye.com. The fire did not damage just any old redwood.  It burned (and is apparently still burning) in ‘Treebeard,’ a redwood estimated Continued

A researcher climbs a giant sequoia at Mountain Home Grove next to a burned giant sequoia that remains alive with two vigorous sprouts near its broken top. Photo credit: Bob Van Pelt

Burned out but not fading away

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It’s fairly difficult for me to imagine living for 3,000 years. Yet giant sequoias live for millennia, standing tall in a single location as the years, decades, and centuries tick by. They are pounded by rain, snow, sweltering heat, lightening, Continued

Giant Sequoia

25 Years of Controversy amid the Monarchs

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I just got back from a trip to see the cinnamon-colored giants of Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest in the southern Sierra. It was a real treat to explore a giant sequoia grove for the first time, especially when accompanied Continued

Fires and humans shape redwood forests.

Impact of Humans on Forest Spans Thousands of Years

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Imagine being the first person to set foot inside the redwood forest. I can picture this visitor pushing through lush ferns as they gazed up at the towering trees. This brave explorer would have no trails to follow as they Continued

One year after a wildfire, burnt redwoods regrow foliage. Photo by Benjamin S. Ramage

Redwoods Regrow After Fires

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In the past 70 to 80 years, most fires in California’s coast redwood forests were prevented or suppressed. But in 2008, more than 2,000 fires ignited forests in Northern and Central California during a single summertime lightning storm. Overwhelmed by conflagrations in drier areas, firefighters allowed many of fires in coast redwood forests to burn. Learn more about this research.

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High-severity treatments have boosted the growth of isolated giant sequoias in what is now Giant Sequoia National Monument. Photo by Rob York

Disturbances Benefit Giant Sequoias

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Being dwarfed by Earth’s most massive tree, the giant sequoia (aka “Sierra redwood”), fills you with wonder. It’s hard to believe that a living thing can be so enormous and old. It may be alarming to see these forests on fire, but research funded by your gifts shows that disturbances such as these actually are good for giant sequoias. Learn more about this research.

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Fire is an example of a disturbance event that redwoods face.

Coast Redwoods’ Response to Disturbance Events

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In 2006, Save the Redwoods League recruited eight scientists to survey scientific literature about how coast redwood forests respond to “disturbance events” such as fires, windstorms and floods. The scientists considered how redwoods fit into two broad categories of trees: those that need major disturbances to perpetuate themselves and those that don’t. The seedlings of disturbance-dependent trees germinate in open spaces, grow quickly to outcompete other vegetation and tend to form even-age stands. Species that don’t need disturbances tend to be shade tolerant, slower growing and longer lived.  They usually grow in uneven-age stands. Learn more about this research.

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Fire is an example of a disturbance event that redwoods face.

Fires Were Common in Rainy Northern Forests

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For years, Steve Norman had been told that the humid forests of coastal Northern California must be too wet to burn. Scientists who research fire acknowledge its power as a tool for reshaping the landscape, but some areas were considered nearly immune to fire. This assumption meant that the damp forests of Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park remained a blank file in the coastal forest fire records. Learn more about this research.

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A League-funded project by Robert York and William Stewart of the University of California will contribute to the basic understanding of how giant sequoia forests like this one respond to disturbances such as fire. Photo by iriskh, Flickr Creative Commons

Balanced Management of Giant Sequoias

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Giant sequoias are sometimes simply referred to as “big trees” and with good reason: They are the largest trees by volume and among the largest living things on Earth. These massive trees do not function in a void; they are supported by an intricate network of natural processes that keep the ecosystem working properly. Learn more about this research.

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