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Thread: Fire Threatens Giant Sequoias

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    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    Fire Threatens Giant Sequoias

    I just read this article, and I was wondering if anyone is familiar with Sequoias... I remember when I was a kid we used to go camping at Sequoia Nat'l Park a lot (and Kings Canyon, Balch Park, Yosemite, and other places with Sequoias). If I remember correctly, Sequoia pinecones, like the seeds of other vegetation in the Sierras, are only able to open and germinate upon being heated by fire. I remember reading the informational signs along the various park trailheads stating that fire was good for the overall health of Sequioa forests. However, all I have been reading is how much damage the fire will do, and not the overall benefits... Just wondering if anyone who knows about Sequoias and forest management could enlighten me a bit. Thanks!

  2. #2

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    I'm no expert, but I think the concern is that the fire will 'crown' or move from tree to tree in the upper branches. You're right that sequoias - and lodgepole pine and several other species - are well adapted to forest fires. The problem is that fuel loads have built up to the point that we aren't talking about a 'normal' pattern of relatively low intensity fires every couple of years, but very hot, very large fires infrequently.

    I spent a week in and around Sequoia National Park two summers ago. The groves of large sequoias have very little underbrush or other fuel, but I remember that a lot of the surrounding forest was pretty dense.

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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I have a giant sequoia in my office. It does not look like it could survive even a small fire.

    I spent some time with these trees last January. I think Bullwinkle is right. A small fire scurrying across the ground will thin out the underbrush, but not harm the this bark of the giants. A fire in the upper levels of the forest will kill the growing branches of the trees.

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