Some areas burned at low to moderate fire severity (green and orange colors on the map), and in these areas the fire likely had some restorative effects. Yet Geoengineering is never mentioned. There was no green on the sequoias Shive counted on the ridge west of Jordan Peak. Within two of the modeled groves (See table above, SQ05 and SQ15), potential erosion rates were higher than the overall average erosion rates across the fire . The Sequoia Complex Fire is growing primarily to the north, on a path toward Kings Canyon National Park. Sequoia National Forest fire grows to 34,000-plus acres, with evacuations still active By Larry Valenzuela. That notion began to fade as she heard more about the Castle fire’s erratic behavior. “Imagine if we had $107 million to do reforestation, thinning and prescribed fire,” he said wistfully. Although significant seedling regeneration may still occur—since the cones need heat to open—the ancient trees that are killed in this type of fire are irreplaceable. The charred corpse of a giant sequoia poked into the smoky haze. The league estimates that on its property alone, the Castle fire killed at least 80 monarchs, ranging in age from 500 years old to well over 1,000 years old. In the last five years, 65% of the range has burned – 33% of it in 2020 alone. Old sequoias can survive even if just 5% of their crowns remain green and unscorched by a fire’s heat. “To us, this is atypical that we’d have areas that burned so severely and were so large in size,” said Powell, the Sequoia National Forest ecosystem manager. The Fire is burning into the Grove as a ground fire with moderate intensity and slower rates of spread. The Northern Rockies Team 1 is in command of the East Castle Zone and CAL FIRE Team 6 is in command of the West Castle Zone on the SQF Complex. Caprio had marked it with little red dots: They were giants whose entire crowns had been incinerated. Using satellite data tracking images both pre-fire and post-fire, we were able to get preliminary figures for fire severity in the giant sequoia groves that burned in this fire. Eric La Price, the Sequoia National Forest’s Western Divide District ranger, surveys damage in the Camp Nelson area, which was not as severely burned by the Castle fire. As evidence of how that helps, he described a trail in Kings Canyon park that runs through a portion of the Grant Grove that burned five years ago in the Rough fire. In early September, the Castle fire made some major runs toward the parks. Their high branches are out of reach of most flames. With heavy fuel loads as a result of fire exclusion and the warming climate, severe fires that kill giant sequoia have dramatically increased in the last five years. Both Yosemite and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks have restored several groves using prescribed fire and some mechanical thinning, but most of the groves in the range still need restoration to be fire resilient in the warming climate. As of mid-October, about 16,563 acres have burned in the giant sequoia range (roughly 34 percent of the range), most of which is old growth. George Powell, left, Sequoia National Forest ecosystem manager, and Eric La Price, the forest’s Western Divide District ranger, walk through the fire-ravaged mountainside in the McIntyre Grove. In contrast, high-severity fire that consumes nearly everything in its path is too hot for giant sequoia to survive. Let’s get back to common sense. When big sequoias die in a wildfire, it is usually because heat has scorched all their needles. Eric La Price and George Powell turned off Highway 190 and parked on a dirt road. Thank you, Save The Redwoods. ***Please note – the maps are dated 9/11/20, an infrared flight was not flown last night and we do not have maps for 9/12/20.***. On the other side, where no prescribed burning had occurred, the fire killed more than 15 big sequoias. “At that point, we started to think it could get into some of our sequoia groves,” Brigham said. The big exception to that pattern was 1297, a year that stands out in the sequoia tree-ring record as a time of high-severity fire. All gifts to our Redwood Parks Fund matched up to $250k, Get the latest redwood updates in your inbox, Press enter to toggle Secondary Navigation, Update on 2020 wildfire in the giant sequoia range, The larger issue is fire severity. In addition to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ full park closures, park managers have implemented a designated wilderness closure in response to the Rattlesnake Fire. Near the Stagg, the Castle fire did a bit of forest housekeeping, burning undergrowth, young white fir trees and incense cedars. This means that there is instability in the atmosphere and a high potential for the fire to exhibit erratic fire behavior. Technically considered part of the SQF Complex fire because it started near another, small lightning fire, the Castle fire burned almost all of the fire complex’s 171,000 acres. Power shutoffs hit Southern California amid red flag warnings. By the weekend of Sept. 12, it had spread westward to the doorstep of the 530 acres of the privately owned Alder Creek grove that the Save the Redwoods League purchased less than a year ago. ADVERTISEMENT Burning since Aug. 19, the complex has scorched nearly 192 square miles (497 square kilometers) of forest and was just 12% contained on Thursday. January 23, 2020. ... Scientists say drought, fire damage and beetle infestations are to blame. Although significant seedling regeneration may still occur—since the cones need heat to open—the ancient trees that are killed in this type of fire are irreplaceable. On the side of the trail where the park had conducted controlled burns, one giant died in the Rough fire. We will refine these numbers as the smoke in the area settles. Their broccoli tops were roasted. Sequoia Complex Fire Update 9 14, 2020. She has nearly 20 years of experience in forest and fire management, as well as fire ecology research. The Castle fire is just the latest in a string of wildfires since 2015 that have fried monarch sequoias — trees that nature designed to not only withstand fire but thrive with it. “We thought we were in the clear; the fire was on the other side of the ridge,” said Shive, the conservation group’s science director. These fires are raising an alarm bell. The estimated full containment date is still November 20. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) The Associated Press What really blows my mind is that it has been known for quite some time that fuel loads desperately needed to be reduced in these forests. Fire personnel in the Sequoia National Forest and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are now managing the 174,178-acre SQF Complex. “Nobody was really worried” about the Castle fire in its first weeks, said Christy Brigham, science chief of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The thumping of a lone helicopter overhead broke the eerie quiet. But even as this is a story of loss, I still feel hope for the sequoia, because we know what we need to do to ensure that these ancient giants persist on the landscape. Regards, Fred M. Cain, Topeka, IN (Member). They had lived through many wildfires and droughts. Sequoia cones can also die and dry up on the tree itself; there is a burrowing insect that chews through the soft green cones, killing them and opening them up to seeding out. Today’s update reports that 62 structures have been lost. Update. Kristen Shive, science director for the Save the Redwoods League, stands in the Alder Creek Grove, where some sequoias didn’t survive California’s Castle fire. I can recall that they were conducting a prescribed burn in the Calaveras Grove back in the 1980s, so it would appear that they knew at least that long ago that doing this was necessary. And in a few years, our effect on the planet has caused this kind of superfire. According to CalFire data, roughly 25% of the range burned in wildfires between 1910-2015. Some areas burned at low to moderate fire severity (green and orange colors on the map), and in these areas the fire likely had some restorative effects. “Every year we talk about how we need to do more work in the groves,” said La Price, the Sequoia National Forest’s Western Divide District ranger. The Castle Fire is now burning in the Freeman Creek Grove (9/8/2020). California sues to recover costs for Exide lead cleanup, but community still wants justice. At times they flared into small, high-intensity burns that created openings for a new generation of sequoias to take hold. Sequoia National Forest land near the Castle Fire that burned in the Sequoia Complex will remain closed through December 31. Kristen Shive glanced around the blackened forest and started counting. Brush fire in San Diego County prompts evacuations in Fallbrook and Camp Pendleton. According to Firefighters, the Bush Tree has been burned around with very little damage. Fire-resilient sequoia ‘monarchs’ no match for 2020 11/20/2020 10:31 am ET • Nathan Kauffman A massive giant sequoia is still burning in Alder Creek Grove, on Nov. 19. This is likely due to the soil burn severity within the Sequoia Groves overall . Money is not the only problem. And then there’s the public’s dislike of smoke from controlled burns. Years after pledging action, California regulators have filed suit against companies connected to the contaminated Exide Technologies plant in Vernon. One of those good burns was in the vicinity of the grove’s star, the 3,000-year-old Stagg tree, the fifth-largest giant sequoia on record. A century of fire suppression, the 2012-16 drought and rising temperatures have combined to produce more intense fires that are taking an alarming toll on the copper-hued behemoths. The number of firefighting personnel working the fire has been reduced to 289. The sunset is obscured by smoke in late October near the Alder Creek Grove, where giant sequoia trees have grown for centuries. It was during the Medieval Warm Period, an era of hotter temperatures in some parts of the world, including the Sierra. Shive spent much of the day on the phone, gathering information about fire behavior and studying maps. They call up their congressional offices, which then tell the forest: Don’t let the burns go on too long. There’s little market for the smaller trees in most need of thinning. Three Rivers, California, was put under evacuation warning Sunday by the Castle Fire, part of the Sequoia Complex Fire in the Sequoia National Forest in Tulare County. I’m horrified, and sad, and glad that I got out to all of these groves on family camping trips and hikes. With heavy fuel loads as a result of fire exclusion and the warming climate, severe fires that kill giant sequoia have dramatically increased in the last five years. The northern edge of the fire could begin to impact Sequoia National Park. The fire and smoke are evident south of Olancha, Calif. where it can be seen southwest of the town. Sequoia National Forest issued Order No. September 8, 2020. Will someone somewhere and at some time finally stop repeating the lie that sequoia cones need fire to open… It’s simply not true. And quit using microwave haarp. At a Glance. The larger issue is fire severity. Their cones — no larger than a chicken egg — release seeds when exposed to a burst of heat. Inyo National Forest issued Order No. As we have noted before, the SQF Complex Fire (also known as the Castle Fire), has had a profound impact on the giant sequoia groves in the Sierra Nevada. Smoke rises from the trunk of a long dead giant sequoia in the McIntyre Grove. For a printable version of this complete update, please visit: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/…/relate…/pict20200814-123732-0.pdf. Remote-sensing satellite images indicate that much of the league’s Alder Creek land didn’t burn in the Castle fire or experienced light fire that will do some ecological good. One giant was decapitated, the upper trunk and branches strewn at its base in a tangled heap. But the fire made a major run that Sunday morning, blasting down drainages as 60-mph winds pushed flames into the grove’s southern end. Gifts are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Forest officials have extended the closure of Sequoia National Forest managed land near the Castle Fire through December 31, 2020. Giant sequoia are not only fire resilient, they are fire dependent for their regeneration, but fire exclusion has dramatically reduced their fire resilience. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) The Latest on wildfires in … But they had never gotten to the relatively remote park groves that burned the hottest in the Castle fire — Homers Nose, Board Camp and Cedar Flat. The remains of 50- to 70-year-old conifers stand in the Sequoia National Forest. Despite cooler temperatures, hot spots continue to smolder and burn through dry vegetation. We need to restore more “good fire” so that the ancient trees—the oldest of which had survived hundreds of wildfires prior to fire exclusion—survive into the future. In Sequoia Crest, Calif., a small vacation-home community, chimneys and foundations are all that remain of about a third of its 104 houses. Although giant sequoia need fire,  these groves were generally in a heavily fuel-loaded state prior to these recent fires, leading to high severity and loss of ancient monarchs. On 11/15/2020 at 1:26 A.M. Humboldt Bay Fire was dispatched to a reported structure fire on the 3200 Block of Q Street. Becky Bremser, left, director of land protection for the Save the Redwoods League, and campaign director Suzanne Moss look at cones of a sequoia. At another spot in the grove, Shive pointed to little sequoia seeds that newly opened cones had showered on the ash-coated ground. September 15, 2020. But, as shown in the map and outlined in the table, the preliminary fire severity data suggest that roughly 40% of the burned areas within the sequoia groves burned at high-severity, which means there will be potentially very large losses of ancient giant sequoia in this one fire. 1 priority is public and employee safety. Just that buildup of fuel. I was not overly concerned.”. Becky Bremser, director of land protection for the Save the Redwoods League, photographs a giant sequoia that was decapitated. Fire personnel entered the structure and located fire in a water heater utility room. Three-quarters of that acreage was in the Giant Sequoia National Monument and Sequoia National Forest, which surround the Alder Creek grove. "Our No. One of the monster wildfires birthed by California’s August lightning blitz, the Castle fire burned through portions of roughly 20 giant sequoia groves on the western slopes of the Sierra, the only place on the planet they naturally grow. 2020 has been a record fire year not only for California, but for its impacts on giant sequoia as well. We need to restore more “good fire” so that the ancient trees, the oldest of which had survived hundreds of wildfires prior to fire exclusion. All around it were black sticks, the ruins of 50- to 70-year-old conifers that Powell guessed had grown in after an old logging operation. I know nothing is forever, but they stood for thousands of years, those mammoths, and they grew from seeds that came from standing trees who know how old they were. In contrast, high-severity fire that consumes nearly everything in its path is too hot for giant sequoia to survive. A Haines Index of 6 is predicted for today. The 2020 Castle Fire burned an estimated 13,600 acres in 10 giant sequoia groves that are located within the Giant Sequoia National Monument of the Sequoia National Forest. Black oaks will re-sprout, but with no surviving green conifers to drop seeds, he predicted the slope would turn into shrub fields. 05-04-21-20-17 Inyo National Forest Castle Fire Trail, Road, and Area Closure on 9/3/20 which expands the closure area of the Golden Trout Wilderness and Monache Meadows. “We shouldn’t have lost so many. Billions of dollars spent on fighting California wildfires, but little on prevention, The state’s focus on fighting fires has some experts asking, “Does California need a new agency to focus on wildfire prevention?”, Changes caused by worsening wildfires in California forests will last centuries. Yet too little was done. These fires are raising an alarm bell. Do we want fire that is healthy and restorative in our ecosystems, or what we had this year?”. California’s worst wildfire season on record has already altered the state’s iconic forests in ways that will be seen for centuries to come. The first arriving engine company found moderate smoke coming from the front and rear of the a single family residence. The towering trees had grown on this Sierra Nevada ridge top for well over 500 years. Occasionally a monarch died. Despite cooler temperatures, hot spots continue to smolder and burn through dry vegetation. Kristen joined the League’s staff in 2018 as a Senior Scientist and now serves as Director of Science. People don’t just complain to him, La Price said. It needs to be separated from its host, by a squirrel or by strong wind, for it to dry up, open up, and release its seeds. A wildfire erupted late Wednesday night near the northern San Diego County community of Fallbrook and spread to the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base. She knew the Castle fire had burned extremely hot in places and figured they’d lost some monarchs. Now she has a new sense of urgency, realizing that “if we don’t get prescribed fire in those groves that have not had any for 100 years, we lose 2,000-year-old monarchs in a fire.”. We will refine these numbers as the smoke in the area settles. “More and more fire is going to happen on the landscape,” Shive said. “We barely have a budget to keep the lights on,” he said. The 2020 Castle fire, Stephenson said, is probably worse than 1297. Firefighters attempted to halt the advance of the massive Seqouia Complex Fire Monday as it approached the rural mountain communities of Alpine Village, Sequoia Crest, and Doyle Springs. In Sequoia Crest, a small vacation-home community developed in the grove in the 1960s, chimneys and foundations are all that remain of about a third of its 104 houses. Sequoia National Park announces full closure How? Castle Fire and the sequoia groves in its path. “We have a lot of lightning fires. Sequoia cones don’t need fire to open up, they just need to be separated from their host. People living in the Sierra often complain of smoke from the burns, but one way or another, there will be smoke in the mountains. A firefighter keeps watch as flames advance along the Western Divide Highway during the SQF Complex Fire on September 14, 2020 near Camp Nelson, California. Bettina Boxall is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who covers California water and the environment for the Los Angeles Times, where she has worked since 1987. “We need to decide what kind of fire we want. There were no sounds of life on this fire-ravaged mountainside in the McIntyre Grove, one of the monument areas hardest hit by the Castle fire. Save the Redwoods League is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization. But, as shown in the map and outlined in the table, the preliminary fire severity data suggest that roughly 40% of the burned areas within the sequoia groves burned at high-severity, which means there will be potentially very large losses of ancient giant sequoia in this one fire. A cone will stay, unopened, on a branch of a sequoia tree for up to fourteen years. The Rattlesnake Fire in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon Wilderness has merged with the Sequoia Complex on the west side of the Kern River near the Golden Trout junction. Becky Bremser, director of land protection for the Save the Redwoods League, walks through the base of the 3,000-year-old Stagg tree. The Sequoia Complex (#SQFComplex) is under the Unified Command between the United States Forest Service, Sequoia National Park, Northern Rockies Incident Management Team 1, and CAL FIRE Team 6. Shive had been watching the growth of the Castle fire since it started Aug. 19 with a lightning strike on the edge of the Golden Trout Wilderness in the Sequoia National Forest. About 19,000 acres are in the southern edge of Sequoia National Park, which abuts the monument. The SQF Complex Fire is burning in the Sequoia National Forest in Tulare County and is working its way up the mountains into the Inyo National Forest in southern Inyo County. Sequoia National Park, home to its giant namesake trees, is threatened by the Castle Fire, part of the SQF Complex of fires ignited by lightning in the Sierra National Forest. The first time the USGS’ Stephenson heard of combusted sequoia tops was in the 2015 Rough fire, another big lightning blaze in the Sierra that burned into sequoia groves. The Castle Fire in October 2020 burned hundreds of Sequoias in the privately owned Alder Creek grove that NGO Save the Redwoods League purchased less than a … Kristen Shive of the Save the Redwoods League leads a group around the base of the 3,000-year-old Stagg tree, the fifth-largest giant sequoia on record. Keep on keeping on. Visitors can reach Sequoia National Park by heading for the Big Stump Entrance Station on Highway 180 from Fresno. By ramping up controlled burns, he said, and thinning thick young stands of white fir and incense cedar near communities and roads. The National Park Service was the first federal agency to recognize the ecological harm of fire exclusion, and Sequoia-Kings Canyon staff have been lighting controlled fires in the groves since the 1960s. He noted the more than $100 million it has cost the government to fight the Castle fire. “To see those giant sequoia, monarch, blackened toothpicks was a gut punch,” Brigham recalled. This was different. I think it’s unacceptable,” said Shive, a former fire ecologist with the National Park Service. Sequoia cones are unique in that they are living, chlorophyll-producing ‘organs’ of their tree. Finally, this last high intensity fire in the Sequoia Monument burned so hot that some sequoia trees exploded, presumably when the water they contained vaporized from the heat. Char marks in the tree-ring corings of ancient sequoias show that before the arrival of settlers in the mid-1800s and the government’s 20th century anti-wildfire policies, low- to moderate-intensity fires ignited by lightning and Native Americans skipped through the groves every 10 to 30 years. I was not ready to see so much red, so much high severity burn. But one way or another, there’s going to be smoke in the Sierra. The problem is that the wildfires chewing through sequoia groves these days are not the kind that the long-lived giants evolved with. 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