Thousands of trees to be felled after California forest fire

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FILE - In this Sunday, September 19, 2021, file photo, firefighters battle the Windy Fire as it burns in the Trail of 100 Giants Grove in Sequoia National Forest, California.  The California highway connecting visitors to the world's two largest redwoods remains closed so teams can remove up to 10,000 trees weakened by wildfires, drought, disease or age.  (AP Photo / Noah Berger, file)

FILE – In this Sunday, September 19, 2021, file photo, firefighters battle the Windy Fire as it burns in the Trail of 100 Giants Grove in Sequoia National Forest, California. The California highway connecting visitors to the world’s two largest redwoods remains closed so teams can remove up to 10,000 trees weakened by wildfires, drought, disease or age. (AP Photo / Noah Berger, file)

PA

In the aftermath of the California wildfires, more than 10,000 trees weakened by fire, drought, disease or age must be removed, a job that will keep a nearby freeway closed to visitors seeking the two largest sequoias of the world.

Dangerous trees could potentially fall on people and cars on the section of State Route 180 known as the Generals Highway, or they could create barriers for emergency and fire responses, the parks said on Friday. Sequoia and Kings Canyon Nationals.

The highway is closed due to the fire at the KNP complex, which was 60% contained after burning 138 square miles (357 square kilometers) of forest, and will remain blocked for visitors after the fire has been extinguished for that saw crews cut down trees and prune branches. The cooler weather helped slow the flames and the area was expected to receive rain from Sunday.

The highway connects Giant Forest, home to the General Sherman Tree, considered the world’s largest by volume, and Grant Grove, home to the General Grant Tree, the world’s second tallest tree. Trees along the highway include redwoods, pines and evergreens, said fire department spokeswoman Kimberly Caschalk.

The KNP complex has been burning since September 9, when lightning triggered two fires which then merged.

Forest officials said earlier this month that the fires may have killed hundreds of giant sequoias, but the extent of the damage has not been determined.

The fire’s impact on the giant redwood groves was mixed. Most saw low to medium intensity fire behavior that the redwoods evolved to survive, and the more notable trees survived.

Firefighters have taken extraordinary measures to protect the redwoods by wrapping fire retardant materials around the bases of some giants, raking and clearing vegetation around them, installing sprinklers and spraying some with fire retardant water or gel. .

Forestry staff unpacked the base of the General Sherman tree on Friday after the fire danger passed.

“We are convinced that the tree is relatively safe,” Caschalk said.

Drought in the West linked to climate change makes forest fires more difficult to fight. Scientists say climate change has made the West much hotter and drier over the past 30 years – meaning that falling rain and snow are likely to evaporate or be absorbed into the ground – and will continue to make weather conditions more extreme and forest fires more frequent and destructive. .

Recent storms have helped contain some of the country’s biggest wildfires this year, including one that threatened the popular Lake Tahoe resort area this summer and is now 100% contained after snow blanketed the side. west of the fire and rain fell on the east side. But this week’s storms won’t end the drought in California and the western United States.

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