07/19/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 07/19/2021 13:21
Contact:Sintia Kawasaki-Yee, (559) 679-2866
SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS, California July 19, 2021- As fire once again sweeps through the American West, an interagency report formally released today estimates that 7,500 to 10,600 large giant sequoias were killed in last year's Castle Fire. This represents 10-14% of large sequoias in the world. Today, the agencies united by stewardship of giant sequoias are officially coming together in partnership, under the new Giant Sequoia Lands Coalition, to save the remaining 90%.
In 2020, the Castle Fire, part of the larger SQF Complex Fire, burned more than 170,000 acres across Giant Sequoia National Monument, Sequoia National Park, Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest, and private lands. According to the 'Preliminary estimates of sequoia mortality in the 2020 Castle Fire' report, released today, and authored by the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey, Western Ecological Research Center, in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service, Save the Redwoods League, The Nature Conservancy, and a local conservationist, more than 10% of the entire existing population of large giant sequoias were killed by this fire alone. While giant sequoias require periodic low-to-moderate intensity fire to maintain healthy ecology, much of the Castle Fire burned too intensely for even these great survivors.
A history of fire suppression and hotter droughts driven by climate change has resulted in denser forests with extraordinary levels of fuel loading. These conditions have changed how wildfire burns in the southern Sierra Nevada, resulting in large areas of high severity fire effects and massive fire events.
'The unprecedented number of giant sequoias lost to fire last year serves as a call to action,' said Clay Jordan, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Superintendent. 'We know that climate change is increasing the length and severity of fire seasons due to hotter temperatures and drought. To combat these emerging threats to our forests, we must come together across agencies. Actions that are good for protecting our forests are also good for protecting our communities.'
'We are looking forward to joining forces in this important work with all sequoia land managers.' expressed Teresa Benson, Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument Supervisor, 'In times of unparalleled threats to the lands we protect, we must take extraordinary steps, coming together as a larger community and united by our conservation goals. Everything we do is critical to sustaining the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.'
The Giant Sequoia Lands Coalition has been formed with an eye toward the future, to better enable land managers to protect the remaining giant sequoias. It is comprised of all public and Tribal land management agencies in stewardship of giant sequoias with the support of affiliate partners including the U.S. Geological Survey, Western Ecological Research Center, Save the Redwoods League, Sequoia Parks Conservancy, Stanislaus National Forest, and Giant Sequoia National Monument Association.
Coalition members will be hosting public and media events over the coming months to raise awareness and public knowledge about sequoia health and research, ongoing projects, the effects of recent fires, and more. Information about these events will be released as plans are finalized.
The members of the Giant Sequoia Lands Coalition are: