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US California wildfires threaten famous giant sequoia trees

13:00  17 september  2021
13:00  17 september  2021 Source:   msn.com

See the beautiful, ecologically priceless trees Italy is protecting forever

  See the beautiful, ecologically priceless trees Italy is protecting forever Dotted across Italy, 22,000 ancient trees have gained federal protection, making them cornerstones of cultural history. “This is the ‘mother beech tree’,” says Romano Visci, a ranger for the National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise. “It provides the seeds for other beech trees to grow.” For centuries, beech trees in this part of the forest have been chopped down predominantly for firewood, to help villagers endure harsh winter months when temperatures can reach minus 5 degrees Fahrenheit.

THREE RIVERS, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters wrapped the base of the world's largest tree in a fire-resistant blanket as they tried to save a famous grove of gigantic old-growth sequoias from wildfires burning Thursday in California’s rugged Sierra Nevada.

A helicopter prepares to drop water on the KNP Complex Fire in Sequoia National Park, Calif., on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. The blaze is burning near the Giant Forest, home to more than 2,000 giant sequoias. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) © Provided by Associated Press A helicopter prepares to drop water on the KNP Complex Fire in Sequoia National Park, Calif., on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. The blaze is burning near the Giant Forest, home to more than 2,000 giant sequoias. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

The colossal General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park’s Giant Forest, some other sequoias, the Giant Forest Museum and other buildings were wrapped as protection against the possibility of intense flames, fire spokeswoman Rebecca Paterson said.

Sequoia National Park threatened by California wildfires

  Sequoia National Park threatened by California wildfires A pair of wildfires burning in California's parched Sierra Nevada mountains have forced the closure of much of Sequoia National Park -- including its most treasured areas, home to some of the largest trees on Earth. While firefighters are "aggressively attacking" the fires to help suppress them, the blazes have the potential to affect the park's infrastructure and resources, the park's website said.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Superintendent Clay Jordan speaks with firefighters battling the KNP Complex Fire during a morning briefing in Tulare County, Calif., on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021. Jordan discussed the need to protect the parks' giant sequoia trees from high-intensity fire in the upcoming days. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) © Provided by Associated Press Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Superintendent Clay Jordan speaks with firefighters battling the KNP Complex Fire during a morning briefing in Tulare County, Calif., on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021. Jordan discussed the need to protect the parks' giant sequoia trees from high-intensity fire in the upcoming days. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

The aluminum wrapping can withstand intensive heat for short periods. Federal officials say they have been using the material for several years throughout the U.S. West to protect sensitive structures from flames. Near Lake Tahoe, some homes that were wrapped in protective material survived a recent wildfire while others nearby were destroyed.

Cones block the entrance to Sequoia National Park, Calif., as the KNP Complex Fire burns nearby on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. The blaze is burning near the Giant Forest, home to more than 2,000 giant sequoias. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) © Provided by Associated Press Cones block the entrance to Sequoia National Park, Calif., as the KNP Complex Fire burns nearby on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. The blaze is burning near the Giant Forest, home to more than 2,000 giant sequoias. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

The Colony Fire, one of two burning in Sequoia National Park, was expected to reach the Giant Forest, a grove of 2,000 sequoias, at some point within days. It was unclear Thursday night whether that had happened. The fire didn't grow significantly as a layer of smoke reduced its spread, fire spokeswoman Katy Hooper said.

Climate change, logging collide -- and a forest shrinks

  Climate change, logging collide -- and a forest shrinks CUSTER CITY, S.D. (AP) — Looking down a hillside dotted with large stumps and nearly devoid of trees, a pair of retired U.S. Forest Service employees lamented logging policies they helped craft to deal with two harbingers of climate change -- pine beetles and wildfires. Timber production dramatically ramped up two decades ago in the Black Hills National Forest along the South Dakota-Wyoming border, as beetles ravaged huge expanses of forest and worries grew over wildfires. © Provided by Associated Press Former U.S.

It comes after a wildfire killed thousands of sequoias, some as tall as high-rises and thousands of years old, in the region last year.

The General Sherman Tree is the largest in the world by volume, at 52,508 cubic feet (1,487 cubic meters), according to the National Park Service. It towers 275 feet (84 meters) high and has a circumference of 103 feet (31 meters) at ground level.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks Superintendent Clay Jordan stressed the importance of protecting the massive trees from high-intensity fire during a briefing for firefighters.

A firefighter lays hose around the Foothills Visitor Center while battling the KNP Complex Fire in Sequoia National Park, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. The blaze is burning near the Giant Forest, home to more than 2,000 giant sequoias. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) © Provided by Associated Press A firefighter lays hose around the Foothills Visitor Center while battling the KNP Complex Fire in Sequoia National Park, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. The blaze is burning near the Giant Forest, home to more than 2,000 giant sequoias. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

A 50-year history of using prescribed burns — fires set on purpose to remove other types of trees and vegetation that would otherwise feed wildfires — in the parks’ sequoia groves was expected to help the giant trees survive by lessening the impact if flames reach them.

Officials wrapped the world's largest tree in protective foil to guard it against California wildfires

  Officials wrapped the world's largest tree in protective foil to guard it against California wildfires The world's largest tree has been wrapped in foil to protect it against flames from a fire raging in California's scenic Sequoia National Park. © Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Sequoia wrapped in foil to protect it from fire The base of the General Sherman Tree has been wrapped in aluminum-based burn-resistant material, according to Sequoia and Kings National Parks. The tree is 275 feet tall, and over 36 feet in diameter at the base, making it taller than the Statue of Liberty from its base to the torch.

A “robust fire history of prescribed fire in that area is reason for optimism,” Paterson said. “Hopefully, the Giant Forest will emerge from this unscathed.”

Giant sequoias are adapted to fire, which can help them thrive by releasing seeds from their cones and creating clearings that allow young sequoias to grow. But the extraordinary intensity of fires — fueled by climate change — can overwhelm the trees.

Flames from the KNP Complex Fire burn a hillside above the Kaweah River in Sequoia National Park, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. The blaze is burning near the Giant Forest, home to more than 2,000 giant sequoias. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) © Provided by Associated Press Flames from the KNP Complex Fire burn a hillside above the Kaweah River in Sequoia National Park, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. The blaze is burning near the Giant Forest, home to more than 2,000 giant sequoias. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

That happened last year when the Castle Fire killed what studies estimate were 7,500 to 10,600 large sequoias, according to the National Park Service.

A historic drought and heat waves tied to climate change have made wildfires harder to fight in the American West. Scientists say climate change has made the region much warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.

Sequoia National Park: KNP Complex Fire reaches part of Giant Forest

  Sequoia National Park: KNP Complex Fire reaches part of Giant Forest The KNP Complex Fire in California has reached a "small area" of the Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park, home to some of the world's largest trees, according to fire officials. © Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images A US Forest Service vehicle drives past the Sequoia National Park historic park entrance sign wrapped in fire resistant foil along Generals Highway during a media tour of the KNP Complex fire in the Sequoia National Park near Three Rivers, California on September 18, 2021.

A national interagency fire management team took command of efforts to fight the 11.5-square-mile (30-square-kilometer) Paradise Fire and the 3-square-mile (8-square-kilometer) Colony Fire, which was closest to the grove. Operations to burn away vegetation and other fuel that could feed the flames were done in that area.

Firefighters attend a morning briefing in the Three Rivers community of Tulare County, Calif., while battling the KNP Complex Fire on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) © Provided by Associated Press Firefighters attend a morning briefing in the Three Rivers community of Tulare County, Calif., while battling the KNP Complex Fire on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

The fires forced the evacuation of the park this week, and parts of the town of Three Rivers outside the main entrance remained evacuated Thursday. A bulldozer was cutting a line between the fire and the community.

A helicopter drops water on the KNP Complex Fire burning along Generals Highway in Sequoia National Park, Calif., on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. The blaze is burning near the Giant Forest, home to more than 2,000 giant sequoias. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) © Provided by Associated Press A helicopter drops water on the KNP Complex Fire burning along Generals Highway in Sequoia National Park, Calif., on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. The blaze is burning near the Giant Forest, home to more than 2,000 giant sequoias. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

To the south, a fire on the Tule River Indian Reservation and in Giant Sequoia National Monument grew significantly overnight to more than 6 square miles (15 square kilometers), and crews had no containment of it, a Sequoia National Forest statement said.

Sequoia National Park’s ‘Four Guardsmen’ trees protected from fire

  Sequoia National Park’s ‘Four Guardsmen’ trees protected from fire The Four Guardsmen, a group of trees forming a natural entryway to the Giant Forest in California's Sequoia National Park, have successfully been protected from a wildfire now devastating parts of the state, authorities said. The firefighting management team said Sunday that the trees were spared from the KNP Complex fire by the removal of nearby vegetation and by wrapping fire-resistant material around the bases of the trees. The KNP Complex fire began as two lightning-sparked fires that eventually merged and has scorched nearly 40 square miles in the heart of sequoia country on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada.

The Windy Fire, also started by lightning, has burned into part of the Peyrone Sequoia Grove in the national monument, and other groves were threatened.

A sign announces the closure of Sequoia National Park, where the KNP Complex Fires are burning, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, in Tulare County, Calif. Individually named the Colony and Paradise Fires, the blazes are burning near the Giant Forest, home to more than 2,000 giant sequoias. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) © Provided by Associated Press A sign announces the closure of Sequoia National Park, where the KNP Complex Fires are burning, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, in Tulare County, Calif. Individually named the Colony and Paradise Fires, the blazes are burning near the Giant Forest, home to more than 2,000 giant sequoias. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

“Due to inaccessible terrain, a preliminary assessment of the fire’s effects on giant sequoia trees within the grove will be difficult and may take days to complete,” the statement said.

The fire led the Tulare County Sheriff's Office to warn the community of Johnsondale and Camp Whitsett, a Boy Scouts camp, to be ready to evacuate if necessary.

Flames from the KNP Complex Fire burn along a hillside above the Kaweah River in Sequoia National Park, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. The blaze is burning near the Giant Forest, home to more than 2,000 giant sequoias. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) © Provided by Associated Press Flames from the KNP Complex Fire burn along a hillside above the Kaweah River in Sequoia National Park, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. The blaze is burning near the Giant Forest, home to more than 2,000 giant sequoias. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

The wildfires are among the latest in a long summer of blazes that have scorched nearly 3,550 square miles (9,195 square kilometers) in California, destroying hundreds of homes.

Crews had limited ground access to the Colony Fire and the extreme steepness of the terrain around the Paradise Fire prevented it completely, requiring extensive aerial water and flame-retardant drops on both fires. The two fires were being managed collectively as the KNP Complex.

California's Giant Forest, Full of Sequoia Trees, Dodges Latest Wildfire Threats

  California's Giant Forest, Full of Sequoia Trees, Dodges Latest Wildfire Threats The KNP Complex, born from two separate lightning-ignited fires that later fused together, has spread across 39 square miles of land in the area.Fire information officer Mark Garrett confirmed that the Sequoia trees hadn't been touched by the fire.

U.S. Forest Service firefighter Lucas Duarte closes his fire engine's hood in Sequoia National Park, Calif., not far from the KNP Complex Fire, on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. The blaze is burning near the Giant Forest, home to more than 2,000 giant sequoias. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) © Provided by Associated Press U.S. Forest Service firefighter Lucas Duarte closes his fire engine's hood in Sequoia National Park, Calif., not far from the KNP Complex Fire, on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. The blaze is burning near the Giant Forest, home to more than 2,000 giant sequoias. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

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Antczak reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press reporter Brian Melley contributed from Los Angeles.

Climate change fuels California emphasis on preventing fires .
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Having spent billions of dollars in a losing battle to control wildfires in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday approved nearly $1 billion in new spending aimed at stopping the blazes before they start. California spent $3.4 billion on wildfire protection last year, more than quadruple the level 15 years ago. But state officials have spent most of that money on extinguishing fires, a job that has become harder as the fires have gotten bigger and hotter because of climate change.Thursday's action brings California's total wildfire prevention budget this year to more than $1.5 billion. It's the final piece of the state’s record-setting $262.

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