With the results of a report detailing the devastation of the Castle Fire, a coalition has been formed to battle the threats of climate change and wildfires to Giant Sequoias.
The Giant Sequoia Lands Coalition, which includes numerous government and nonprofit agencies, has been formed.
The coalition was formed after it was announced on Monday the Castle Fire killed at least more than 10 percent of the World's Giant Sequoias.
Details of the report were released earlier that stated 10 to 14 percent of the world's Giant Sequoias were killed. The report formally released on Monday stated 7,500 to 10,600 Giant Sequoias were killed in the Castle Fire.
Also on Monday, numerous agencies announced they were coming together to form the Giant Sequoia Lands Complex “to save the remaining 90 percent” when it comes to the Giant Sequoias that still exist.
The Castle Fire, which was part of the Sequoia Complex, burned more than 170,000 acres across Giant Sequoia National Monument, Sequoia National Park, Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest, and private lands.
The “Preliminary estimates of sequoia mortality in the 2020 Castle Fire" report, officially released today was done by the National Park Service the U.S. Geological Survey and Western Ecological Research Center in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service, Save the Redwoods League, The Nature Conservancy, and a local conservationist.
The report stated more than 10 percent of the world's existing population of large Giant Sequoias were killed by the Castle Fire. The report noted while Giant Sequoias require low-to-moderate intensity fire to maintain a healthy ecology, such as prescribed burns, much of the Castle Fire burned to intensely for the Giant Sequoias to survive.
The report also stated fire suppression in which more of a hands off approach in letting nature take its course but also 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.”
The Giant Sequoia Lands Coalition has been formed, comprised of all public and Tribal land management agencies. Others involved in the Coalition will be the U.S. Geological Survey, Western Ecological Research Center, Save the Redwoods League, Sequoia Parks Conservancy, Stanislaus National Forest, CAL FIRE 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 and the effects of recent fires. Information about these events will be released as plans are finalized.
Members of the Giant Sequoia Lands Coalition are:
National Park Service, represented by Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and Yosemite National Park; U.S. 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.
“We are looking forward to joining forces in this important work with all sequoia land managers.” said 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 coalition stated its plan is to increase the pace and scale of treatments to reduce forest fuels through prescribed burning and restorative thinning. The coalition states it will also work for in increased efficiency that will lead to police changes that allow for more swift action.
The coalition's ultimate goal is to increase wildfire resilience in forests and communities. It also wants to address long term planning for climate change through research and monitoring.
“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.”
Officials have noted with Balch Park and Mountain Home State Forest, those places were saved as a result of active forest management that included prescribed burning.
“We regret the loss of our old-growth giant sequoia trees that were killed in the Castle Fire,” said Jim Kral, Mountain Home State Forest Manager, and forester for CAL FIRE’s Tulare County Unit. “However, we were triumphant in protecting the majority of the Mountain Home Grove through our long-term planning and commitment to actively managing the forest. CAL FIRE looks forward to working with our partners in applying the lessons learned from the Castle Fire to improve the future management of these majestic groves in the face of a changing climate and more intense wildfires.”
For the full report, more information, and resources about emerging threats to Giant Sequoias visit www.nps.gov/seki/learn/gslc.htm.