Mariposa Grove’s Sequoias Are At Risk From Wildfires

Climate change has heightened the threat posed by fires

Mariposa Grove
The boardwalk at Yosemite's Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is viewed on October 6, 2019, in Yosemite Valley, California.
George Rose/Getty Images

Travel to southern California and you might well find yourself in the presence of trees that have stood there for thousands of years. Mariposa Grove is home to several long-lived trees, a number of which are also among the largest of their kind in the world. Legislation signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1864 codified protection for the trees in question, and the grove became part of Yosemite National Park 42 years later.

Now, though, Mariposa Grove and its famed sequoias are at risk from wildfires in the region. As the Los Angeles Times reports, the Washburn fire has put 500 sequoias at risk, along with the town of Wawona, which is located within Yosemite National Park.

As the Los Angeles Times article points out, sequoias have historically survived many fires over the years — a tree doesn’t last for nearly 2,000 years without some ability to withstand fire, after all. But the scope of the wildfires currently affecting California pose a more existential threat to these trees. Why? The article cites drought and the effects of climate change as contributing to the advanced risk at play here.

Efforts are underway to preserve and protect the sequoias in Mariposa Grove, in conjunction with the broader efforts to deal with the Washburn fire. For now, preservationists and visitors to the grove alike are hoping for the best.

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