Posted: Dec 10, 2021 / 9:45 PM CST
Updated: Dec 10, 2021 / 9:45 PM CST
FILE – A giant sequoia tree, right, shows blackened scars from the forest fire seen during a media tour of Redwood Canyon on Friday, October 15, 2021 in Kings Canyon National Park, California. Sequoia National Park opens its Giant Forest area three months after extraordinary efforts saved the grove when forest fires in Northern California destroyed thousands of other sequoia trees. (Eric Paul Zamora / The Fresno Bee via AP, File)
SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, California (AP) – Sequoia National Park will reopen its Giant Forest area on Saturday, three months after a forest fire in Northern California led to extraordinary efforts to protect the grove and destroy thousands of other sequoia trees.
The giant forest is open on Saturdays and Sundays during the day and thereafter from Thursdays to Sundays. The grove will have a seven-day schedule between Christmas and New Years, if winter weather permits, the park said.
Visitors have been warned to bring their own food and water as none are available in the grove.
The giant forest includes the General Sherman tree, the largest living being on earth in terms of volume. The grove had been closed since mid-September when a fire complex caused by lightning ripped through the Sierra Nevada.
Firefighters took extreme measures to protect the largest and oldest trees in the giant forest. They wrapped logs in fire retardant sheeting, set up sprinklers, raked flammable materials around trees, and dropped fire retardant gel on the treetops, some 60 meters above the ground.
The measures helped to save the huge forest, but could not be used everywhere.
Fires in Sequoia National Park and the surrounding Sequoia National Forest ripped through more than a third of California’s groves and set an estimated 2,261 to 3,637 sequoias on fire, park officials said.
Nearby forest fires last year killed an unprecedented 7,500 to 10,400 giant sequoia trees native to only about 70 groves dotted along the west side of the Sierra Nevada.
The losses now account for 13 to 19% of the 75,000 sequoias that are more than 1.2 meters in diameter.
The trees depend on periodic low-intensity fire and were previously considered fire-resistant. But fires made worse by climate change have brought hotter droughts, and fires in the past six years have torn dozens of groves in the Sierra Nevada mountains, killing the giants in large numbers for the first time.