Giant Sequoia Lands Coalition Media Kit

Draft In Press Report

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    Photos and Video

    Vist NP Gallery for still photographs related to giant sequoias, fire ecology, and the effects of the 2020 Castle Fire. B-roll video is available upon request - contact us here.

     

    Additional Resources

    National Park Service


    Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

    Contact: Sintia Kawasaki-Yee, Public Affairs Officer

    Phone Number: (559) 679-2866 E-mail: sintia_kawasaki-yee@nps.gov


    Contact: Rebecca Paterson, Public Affairs Specialist

    Phone Number: (559) 702-3400 E-mail: rebecca_paterson@nps.gov

     

    Yosemite National Park

    Contact: Scott Gediman, Public Affairs Officer

    Phone Number: (209) 742-3519

    E-mail: scott_gediman@nps.gov

     

    U.S. Forest Service


    Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument

    Contact: Alicia Embrey, Forest Public Affairs Officer

    Phone Number: (559) 784-1500 ext. 1112

    E-mail: alicia.embrey@usda.gov

     

    Sierra National Forest

    Contact: Alex Olow, Forest Public Information Officer

    Phone Number: (559) 297-0706 x4804

    E-mail: alexander.olow@usda.gov

     

    Tahoe National Forest

    Contact: Joe Flannery, Forest Public Affairs Officer

    Phone Number: (530) 715-1949

    E-mail: joseph.flannery@usda.gov
     

    Bureau of Land Management


    Case Mountain Extensive Recreation Management Area

    Contact: Gabriel Garcia, Bakersfield Field Manager

    Phone Number: 661-391-6000

    E-mail: grgarcia@blm.gov
     

    Contact: Serena Baker, Public Affairs Officer, Central California District

    Phone Number: 916-206-1520

    Email: sbaker@blm.gov

     

    Tule River Indian Tribe

    Contact: William Garfield, Chairman, Tule River Tribal Council

    Phone Number: (559) 781-4271x1062

    E-mail: william.garfield@tulerivertribe-nsn.gov

     

    State of California


    Calaveras Big Trees State Park

    Rhiannon Montgomery, Marketing & Public Relations Director, Central Valley District

    Phone number: 209-213-9032

    E-mail: Rhiannon.Montgomery@parks.ca.gov

     

    Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest

    Contact: Christine McMorrow, Public Information Officer

    Phone Number: (916) 856-8869

    E-mail: christine.mcmorrow@fire.ca.gov

     

    University of California, Berkeley


    Contact: Rachelle Hedges, Project and Policy Analyst, Berkeley Forests E-mail: rachelle.hedges@berkeley.edu

     

    Contact: Julie Gipple, Director of Communications, College of Natural Resources, Office of the Dean

    Phone Number: 510-643-1041

    E-mail: julie_gipple@berkeley.edu

     

    Tulare County

    Contact: Denise England, Water Resources Program Director

    Phone Number: 559-636-5027 E-mail: DEngland@tularecounty.ca.gov

     

     

    Giant Sequoia Land Coalition Affiliates

     

    Save the Redwoods League

    Contact: Jennifer Benito-Kowalski, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer

    Phone: 415-602-1037

    E-mail: jbenito@savetheredwoods.org

    Giant Sequoia National Monument Association
    Contact: Bill Moench, President
    Phone: 559-978-0913
    E-mail: LLMoench@yahoo.com

    United States Geological Survey, Western Ecological Research Center
    Contact: Alexandra Weill
    E-mail: aweill@usgs.gov

    Sequoia Parks Conservancy
    Contact: Gary Rogers, Communications Director
    Phone: 559-765-5852
    E-mail: garyr@sequoiaparks.org

    Fact Sheet

    Giant Sequoia Threats, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park

    Giant Sequoia Background

    • Giant sequoias grow only on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada in California, in about 70 groves between 4,000 and 8,000 feet in elevation. While not the world’s oldest trees, sequoias are known to reach ages of over 3,000 years.
    • Giant sequoias are among the largest and oldest living things on the planet. They sequester carbon in a warming world, and contribute to cleaner air and water. They support a bustling economy on public lands, drawing millions of visitors through local communities. They were among the first inspirations for federal-level conservation; in 1890, Sequoia National Park was the first national park created specifically to protect a living organism.
    • Tree ring studies of giant sequoias provide a long record of climate and fire history, helping land managers and scientists better understand relationships of climate, fire, and the giant sequoia life cycle.
    • These records show that frequent surface fires were the typical pattern of fire occurrence over the past 2,000 years. But this pattern changed after about 1860, when fire frequency declined sharply. This decline in fire was probably a result of intensive sheep grazing that began about this time (reducing live and dead vegetation that carries ground fire beneath the trees) and a decrease in fires set by Native Americans, followed by fire suppression by government agencies.
    • Today, these special forests, irreplaceable in many human lifetimes, face grave threats. A century of wildfire suppression contributed to unhealthy forest density across the giant sequoias’ range, and the changing climate is already having a broad range of detrimental effects. As the 2021 fire year picks up nationally, California also reckons with impacts from the many harrowing fires that have characterized the early years of the 21st century, devastating in their frequency and intensity.

    Role of Fire

    • Fire plays a crucial role in the giant sequoia ecosystem. Fire scars in tree rings dating back 2,000 years show that widespread fires occurred naturally at intervals ranging from 6 to 35 years in these forests.
    • Large giant sequoias are adapted to survive repeated fires. Their thick, fibrous bark insulates them from fire’s heat. The more flammable branches typically occur high up the trunks, well above the flame height of most fires.
    • Prescribed burn reduces fuels and facilitates giant sequoia regeneration. The fire’s heat opens cones, releasing tiny oatmeal-sized sequoia seeds onto bare mineral soil, where they can take root.
    • Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks have a long history of prescribed burning in giant sequoia and other mixed- conifer forests, since the late 1960s. Prescribed burns reduce fuels, create favorable conditions for tree regeneration, and increase forest resilience to climate change impacts. However, it has not been possible to conduct as much prescribed fire as is needed in these forests. In recent years, extensive, severe wildfires in California have stretched fire-fighting resources thin and generated unhealthy levels of smoke for extended periods of time. Due to warming temperatures and drought, fire seasons are increasing in length and severity, and the window of time for prescribed burning is smaller most years.

    Threats

    • Threats to giant sequoias have been exacerbated in recent years due to unusually high temperatures and the effects of low precipitation associated with drought.
    • Giant sequoias are known for their resistance to insects and disease and their fire-adapted life cycle however the recent drought from 2012 to-2016 appears to have been a tipping point for giant sequoias and other Sierra Nevada mixed- conifer forests.
    • Prior to the recent drought, death of a giant sequoias from fire impacts, was a relatively rare event, typically the result of many accumulated injuries over their long life. Scientists recorded only subtle, long-term changes in forest health. During and after the drought, they observed large, abrupt, and novel changes to forests, including in numerous giant sequoia groves.
    • The following impacts are believed to contribute to the higher levels of giant sequoia mortality than ever previously observed:
    • Wildfire - Two-thirds of all giant sequoia grove area has burned in wildfires in the past six years, compared to only one quarter in the preceding century. Thousands of large giant sequoias (> 4 feet in diameter) are estimated to have been killed in just four wildfires that occurred between 2015-2020, most of those in the 2020 Castle Fire. More precise giant sequoia mortality estimates are in-development and will be informed by additional ground surveys this 2021 summer.
    • Native Bark Beetles - During and after the 2012-2016 hotter drought, USGS scientists and park managers in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks documented 33 giant sequoias that died standing. All of these trees had experienced recent fire and many had some basal fire scarring. Most of them grew in very wet areas, and a native bark beetle appears to have killed them. Beetle kill of giant sequoias is a newly reported phenomenon, believed to be the result of drought-related impacts (Stephenson et al. in prep).
    • Acute foliage dieback has occurred in many giant sequoias in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks as a short-term response to the drought. Dieback was most pronounced in 2014, the most severe drought year in the park’s 122-year record. Amounts of dieback on individual trees ranged from none to >75%. The magnitude of dieback was variable between and within groves. The majority of sequoias affected by crown dieback recovered foliage quickly – by the summer of 2015, the affected dead foliage had been shed, and new foliage produced. However,
    • Extreme Weather Events - Mono winds are strong winds that blow downhill across the western slopes of the central Sierra Nevada from the northeast. Air moving from the northeast flows up and over the high peaks. As this air rushes several thousand feet downhill, it increases in speed. Winds may reach speeds of 50 mph or more. On January 19, 2021, a fierce Mono windstorm struck Yosemite National Park, knocking down trees and damaging cars, homes, and other infrastructure. At least 15 giant sequoias were toppled in the Mariposa Grove, ranging in size from 4 to 9 feet in diameter. While giant sequoias do occasionally fall in wind events, it is unusual for so many to fall at once. The winds caused damage throughout the park and the Mariposa Grove remains closed due to storm damage.

    Response

    • Prescribed burning remains one of the most important management tools to reduce fuels in sequoia groves, favor regeneration, and increase resilience of these groves to climate change and wildfires.
    • Responses to these sudden changes and threats will take coordination across organizations managing giant sequoias as well as with scientists, and non-governmental organizations. Stewards of sequoia groves across California have formed the Giant Sequoia Lands Coalition, which will seek opportunities for increased shared learning in giant sequoia management, increased efficiency of planning and execution of resilience treatments, and stronger public communications around giant sequoia conservation.

    National Park Service


    Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

    “We see this as a call to action,” Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Superintendent Clay Jordan said. “As stewards for one of this nation’s most iconic resources, the Giant Sequoia, we are dedicated to learning more about the emerging threats to these magnificent trees and how we can keep them safe. We are engaging our fellow Federal, Tribal, State, and local sequoia grove managers to collaborate on actions to ensure that future generations of people will be able to stand under these very same trees and be just as awed by them as we are today.”
     

    “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, and the formation of this coalition is just the beginning.”

     

    Yosemite National Park

    "There's no time to waste," said Yosemite National Park Superintendent Cicely Muldoon. "Since President Lincoln first protected Yosemite's Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias in 1864, these magnificent trees have come to symbolize the conservation movement in the United States and around the world. Failure is not an option when it comes to protecting this iconic species. Our coalition is determined to meet this challenge."

     

    USDA Forest Service


    Sequoia National Forest & Giant Sequoia National Monument

    “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.”

    Sierra National Forest

    “Hosting Giant Sequoia Groves on the Sierra National Forest is a tremendous honor, that brings with it, significant responsibility. While the Giant Sequoias have been here through time, the path forward is much more perilous, and demands our collective focus to ensure these national treasures are here for generations to come. I and the staff on the Sierra National Forest enthusiastically accept this challenge, and could not be more excited to be a part of this Coalition. Uniting for a common cause can achieve phenomenal results. When you have a cause as compelling as this, we must succeed.” Dean Gould, Forest Supervisor, Sierra National Forest

     

    Bureau of Land Management


    Case Mountain Extensive Recreation Management Area

    "The Bureau of Land Management believes partnerships and inclusion are vital to managing sustainable public lands. Collaboratively, we can achieve so much more by bringing together the best available science to help conserve these majestic national treasures and help strengthen the fire resiliency for our neighboring communities," explained Gabe Garcia, BLM Bakersfield Field Manager. "We strive to be good stewards, so that generations from now can still enjoy the wonder of these American landmarks."

     

    Tule River Indian Tribe, stewards of Black Mountain Grove

    “As Native People, we have a spiritual and cultural connection with the land. For thousands of years, these trees have provided healing, shelter and warmth to our people,” William Garfield, Chairman of the Tule River Tribal Council, said “It is our duty to do everything in our power to make sure that they are protected, so we can pass them on to our future generations as they were passed down to us.”
     

    State of California


    Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest

    “We regret the loss of our old-growth giant sequoia trees that were killed in the Castle Fire,” said Jim Kral, Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest Manager (CAL FIRE). “However, we are triumphant in protecting the majority of the Mountain Home Grove through our long-term planning and commitment to actively manage the forest. CAL FIRE looks forward to working with our partners in applying the lessons learned from the Castle Fire to improve our future management of these majestic groves in the face of a changing climate and more intense wildfires.”

    University of California, Berkeley, stewards of Whitaker’s Research Forest  

    “Recent events have shown that sustaining the health and vitality of the remaining Sequoia groves and surrounding forests is becoming more challenging as they face new and unprecedented threats. Collaborating across the diverse land managers who have unique skills and capabilities will be necessary to ensure that the giant sequoias continue to flourish. Berkeley Forests welcomes the opportunity to share the wealth of giant sequoia research, not only from Whitaker's Forest, but from our entire network of researchers and research forests,” said Dr. Bill Stewart, Berkeley Forests Co-Director.
     

    Tulare County

    “The Giant Sequoias we enjoy in our backyard are more of a treasure than most imagine. These groves include some of the biggest and most majestic trees in the world. I have personally taken guests from other countries to see the ”big trees” and they are typically left speechless before they even see the largest examples. These treasures, which date back centuries and more, can only be experienced in a relatively tiny portion of the landscape of our country making them extremely valuable even if it were only for their rarity. They also, however, provide unbelievable beauty as an anchor and backdrop to the forest, critical habitat and linkage to the forest ecosystem and carbon sequestration which plays an increasingly vital role in the surrounding environs. These naturally fire-resistant giants are really only threatened by forest management practices which allow tree density to be unhealthy and ladder fuels to propagate allowing fire they have survived for millennia to reach into their crowns which do not afford the natural fire protections.” Supervisor District Four Dennis Townsend

    “The Sequoia National Forest and Sequoia National Park are our backyard and the Giant Sequoias make these places unique to the entire world. A question I am frequently asked when I tell someone from another state or country that I am from California is; have I seen a Giant Sequoia? When I explain that I live near Giant Sequoia groves, I am told how fortunate I am and how much the person wants to see a Giant Sequoia. I have met visitors from all over the world who have came to visit our Giant Sequoias and those people are contributing to our economy.

    "The beauty, environmental, habitat, and economical benefits of these majestic trees are essential. The Giant Sequoias have been present for centuries and it saddens me to see that we have lost almost 10% of these naturally fire-resistant majestic trees in one fire incident due to poor forest management practices. Cities and Counties have ordinances requiring property owners to clean and maintain their properties to avoid disease, pests and fires. Poor forest management practices have led to a very unhealthy and endangered forest. Now more than ever we need to assure that our forests are managed properly so they may thrive, protect our Giant Sequoias and maintain our forest as it was intended when those lands were set aside as forests lands.” Supervisor District One Larry Micari

     

    For More Information


    National Park Service
    Giant sequoias and climate web page


    Save-the-Redwoods League
    Giant Sequoia and Fire web page


    Yosemite National Park
    Climate change web page

    Last updated: July 20, 2021

    Contact the Park

    Mailing Address:

    47050 Generals Highway
    Three Rivers, CA 93271

    Phone:

    (559) 565-3341

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