In California, Even Fire-Resistant Trees Need to Be Protected From Flames

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California Today

Giant sequoias conflict to withstand the strength of caller fires.

Soumya Karlamangla

Sept. 21, 2021, 9:01 a.m. ET


Firefighters applied foil wrapper  to support   General Sherman, a sequoia estimated to beryllium  astir   2,300 to 2,700 years old.
Credit...National Park Service

Somewhere betwixt a puerility abrogation to Sequoia National Park and a assemblage biology class, I latched connected to a azygous information astir California’s elephantine sequoias: They’re immune to wildfires.

These past trees person survived for truthful agelong due to the fact that they had recovered a mode to coexist with a deadly threat. Or truthful I thought.

Last summer, a azygous occurrence killed tens of thousands of sequoias successful the Sierra Nevada. And this month, blazes successful and astir Sequoia National Park are lapping astatine the bases of these monolithic trees, worrying the firefighters who are scrambling to support them.

The ever-increasing strength of fires successful California has go excessively overmuch adjacent for the sequoias, which evolved to past — adjacent thrive — successful fires. The dangers prompted firefighters past week to wrapper General Sherman, believed to beryllium the largest histrion successful the world, successful flame-retardant foil successful a bid to prevention it from flames.

Experts accidental the fires that sequoias endured for centuries were mostly debased grade. Thick bark and sky-high crowns protected the trees from superior damage. Heat from the flames adjacent helped them reproduce by releasing seeds from their cones.

But now, California’s sequoia groves are dealing with the consequences of a period of occurrence suppression that has near forests dense with flammable vegetation. Drought and rising temperatures person killed different plants and turned them into kindling.

This has led to fires burning connected an unprecedented scale. Between 2015 and 2020, two-thirds of the elephantine sequoia groves crossed the Sierra Nevada were scorched successful wildfires, compared with a 4th successful the erstwhile century, according to the National Park Service.

Sequoias whitethorn person adapted to fires, “but not to the confluence of changes that person occurred implicit the past 100 years,” Joan Dudney, a wood ecologist who has worked successful Sequoia National Park, told me.


Credit...Noah Berger/Associated Press

Last summer, the Castle occurrence killed disconnected arsenic galore arsenic 10,600 ample sequoias, oregon 14 percent of the population, according to the National Park Service. Some of the trees, which turn lone successful California, were charred from their trunk to their crown.

That has firefighters moving to debar a repetition of past year. They person been clearing brushwood from the bases of trees and swaddling them successful reflective fire-resistant blankets that are besides used to support homes successful California.

As of Monday evening, the astir well-known trees successful Sequoia National Park remained safe, including General Sherman. Firefighters and tree-lovers volition nervously hold to spot what Tuesday brings.

For more:


Credit...Juan Arredondo for The New York Times

President Biden announced connected Monday that his medication would draught rules connected workplace dangers from heat, 1 of the archetypal authorities responses to an emerging tract of probe connected the harms that workers look from rising temperatures.

Hot conditions connected the occupation lend not lone to much cases of heatstroke and exhaustion, but besides injuries from falls and the mishandling of machinery due to the fact that vigor makes it hard to concentrate.

A survey released this summertime recovered that utmost vigor caused 20,000 workplace injuries successful California each year.

Read the afloat story from my workfellow Coral Davenport.


Credit...Clara Mokri for The New York Times
  • Refugee students: Schools successful ample Afghan communities, similar Sacramento and Fremont, are preparing to instrumentality successful thousands of exile students from Afghanistan, EdSource reports.

  • What you get: See $900,000 homes successful Sacramento, Oakland and Santa Monica.

  • Mega events: As of Monday, Californians attending indoor events with much than 1,000 radical indispensable amusement impervious of vaccination oregon a antagonistic coronavirus test, reports KGTV.

  • Covid-19 transmission: California is the lone authorities wherever coronavirus dispersed is not considered “high” by national officials, The Los Angeles Times reports.


  • Activision investigation: The Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an probe into Activision Blizzard, the video crippled shaper based successful Santa Monica that is down Call of Duty.

  • Ojai Music Festival: This storied haven of modern classical euphony returned to observe its 75th twelvemonth after a agelong pandemic absence.

  • Topanga theater: What began arsenic a retreat successful the Santa Monica Mountains wherever blacklisted actors gathered to execute is present the Theatricum Botanicum, and it has been drawing audiences successful the pandemic.

  • Vaccinations for in-home attraction workers: Los Angeles County’s wellness serviceman clarified that in-home wellness aides are required to beryllium afloat vaccinated against Covid-19 by Sept. 30, according to LAist.

  • Home prices: Southern California’s median location merchantability terms was fundamentally stagnant from July to August, KTLA reports.

  • George Holliday: The antheral who filmed the 1991 beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles constabulary officers has died astatine property 61 of complications from the coronavirus, according to The Los Angeles Times.

  • Colorado River dispute: The Imperial Irrigation District and the Metropolitan Water District person reached an statement that settles 2 lawsuits and aims to support the Colorado River, The Associated Press reports.


  • Wonderful: While h2o prices soar successful the Central Valley, Wonderful — a farming institution owned by the billionaires Stewart and Lynda Resnick — tin ever bargain more, according to Forbes.


  • Solar lawsuit: The California Solar and Storage Association has filed a suit against the authorities implicit a caller request that star sheet installers beryllium “certified electricians.”

  • Betty Reid Soskin: The oldest progressive ranger successful the National Park Service, Betty Reid Soskin, turns 100 connected Sept. 22. She’s go a personage astatine the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park successful Richmond, where she works.

  • Insurance moratoriums: A authorities instrumentality volition temporarily prohibition security companies from dropping policyholders who unrecorded adjacent wildfire catastrophe sites, The Associated Press reports.

  • Spare the Air alert: Higher than mean levels of ozone successful the East Bay connected Tuesday could origin problems for radical with respiratory issues, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

  • Homeless structure lawsuit: A caller suit filed successful Sacramento Superior Court could impact the city’s plans to physique shelters and tiny homes nether a freeway. The suit claims the determination would marque residents susceptible to aerial pollution, The Sacramento Bee reports.


Credit...Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times


Credit...Dan Neville/The New York Times

Today’s question extremity comes from Janine Sprout, who recommends Bodie State Historic Park successful Mono County:

“A well-preserved shade municipality wherever you consciousness the miners conscionable left. Peeking successful the windows for a glimpse of households sitting stagnant for decades provides large entertainment. Enthusiastic authorities parkland rangers springiness periodic past talks to capable successful the blanks.”

Tell america astir your favourite places to sojourn successful California. Email your suggestions to We’ll beryllium sharing much successful upcoming editions of the newsletter.

If you rotation into Golden Gate Park today, you whitethorn perceive the delicate notes of a piano.

Starting successful the summertime of 2016, a twelve performance pianos person been hidden wrong the San Francisco Botanical Garden each year. Typically, professionals play for astir an hr a day, portion anyone other tin pat the keys the remainder of the time, reports The San Francisco Chronicle.

After a 26-month hiatus due to the fact that of the coronavirus pandemic, the pianos returned to the parkland connected Friday. They volition stay determination done today.

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