Multi-Agency Coalition Formed To Save Giant Sequoias From Wildfire, Climate Change

ON 07/20/2021 AT 06:13 PM

A Giant Sequoia Lands Coalition has been formed in a bid to better safeguard giant sequoias from threats of climate change and catastrophic wildfires.

Tall Trees

Sequoia trees in California. Photo: Image by USA-Reiseblogger from Pixabay

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%. 

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: 

  • National Park Service, represented by Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and Yosemite National Park
  • United States Forest Service, represented by Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument, Sierra National Forest, and Tahoe National Forest 
  • Bureau of Land Management, represented by Case Mountain Extensive Recreation Management Area 
  • Tule River Indian Tribe, stewards of Black Mountain Grove 
  • State of California, represented by Calaveras Big Trees State Park and Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest 
  • University of California, Berkeley, stewards of Whitaker’s Research Forest 
  • Tulare County, stewards of Balch Park 

The goals of the coalition are to increase wildfire resilience in our forests and communities; address long term planning for climate change through research and monitoring; increase pace and scale of treatments to reduce destructive forest fuels through prescribed burning and restorative thinning; and increase efficiency through partnerships aimed at policy changes that allow for more swift action.