In 1901 the naturalist John Muir wrote in a magazine that no description could capture the majesty of the giant Sequoia. He said “ natures forest masterpiece, and, as far as I know, is the greatest living thing”
Muir's advocacy helped create several national parks, including Sequoia in 1890.CHRISTY BRIGHAM BEGAN working as the chief of resources management and science at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in 2015. It was a tense time for anyone working with trees. California was three years deep into one of the worst droughts in the state’s history, and some 12 million trees had died in the southern Sierra Nevada—a figure that would eventually rise to more than 60 million.
Sequoias have stand on the westen slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California and can reach the age of 2500-3000 years and then normally die of old age and fall over, until recently-
In the last two years three major wild fires lit by lighting have killed 13-17% of Sequoias. With climate induced droughts, wildfires are becoming larger and burn more aggressive, with more high intensity fire zones that will alter the landscape. In 2021-22 I followed and worked closely with Sequoia scientist and fire ecologist entering the KNP complex and Windy fire to document the effects the climate crisis is having on Giant Sequoias for Sierra Magazine
The one type of tree Brigham was told she didn’t have to worry about was Sequoiadendron giganteum. “What I was told when I got here is that nothing kills sequoias,” Brigham says. “Eventually they just fall over.”
A mature sequoia’s mortality rate is a fraction of other species’. Its thick bark is nearly impervious to fire and insects.
There are perfectly healthy sequoias in the parks that were alive when Mount Vesuvius destroyed Pompeii.