Many feared that the oldest trees at the Big Basin Redwoods would be destroyed due to the ongoing California fire. But they survived.
Image Source: Facebook/Uri Peled
A staggering number of wildfires has engulfed the state of California and already ravaged through 1.4 million acres making it one of the most active fire seasons ever. When it swept through the state's oldest state park last week many feared the destruction of several old-growth redwoods as some of them were as old as 2,000 years and among the tallest living things on Earth. But on Monday, an Associated Press reporter and photographer who hiked the famous Redwood Trail at Big Basin Redwoods State Park confirmed that the most ancient redwoods had indeed survived the unforgiving blaze.
No matter how much we claim to have superiority or dominance over this planet, in the end, it's the creations of mother nature that have been here in one way or another before us... and will be after us (or the current evolutionary stage we're in).https://t.co/seXufkx3OT— ᚾᚨᛏᚺᚨᚾ ᚱᛟᛗᛒᛖᚱᚷ (@FILMSTHESEDAYS) August 25, 2020
"That is such good news, I can’t tell you how much that gives me peace of mind," shared conservation director for the Sempervirens Fund - which is an environmental group dedicated to the protection of redwoods and their habitats - Laura McLendon. She explained how Redwood forests are meant to burn but revealed that the reports saying that the park was "gone" was misleading to an extent. Although the headquarters of the historic park has been wiped out by the fire - which swept through the park around 72 kilometers (45 miles) south of San Francisco - in addition to many small buildings and campground foundations surrounding the area, the forest had survived. In its midst was one survivor which was dubbed Mother of the Forest, reports NBC News.
@AnnaProsser you might like these news ^— Buried Treasures TTRPG (@6uriedTreasures) August 25, 2020
"But the forest is not gone," shared McLendon. "It will regrow. Every old-growth redwood I’ve ever seen, in Big Basin and other parks, has fire scars on them. They’ve been through multiple fires, possibly worse than this." Every time windstorms, lightning, and forest fires hit these redwood trees, the ones that don't topple have the ability to resprout. For instance, Mother of the Forest used to be the tallest tree in the park towering at 329 feet. But following a storm, the top broke off and a new trunk had sprouted where the old growth had been.
Furthermore, the trees that fall on the forest floor have a vital role to play as they become nurse trees from which new redwoods grow. It also helps several creatures thrive under these logs, from banana slugs to insects. The conservation of redwood began in 1902 when the Big Basin, California's oldest state park, was established. Its mission is to "provide for the health, inspiration, and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state's extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation."
Sad day today Big Basin Redwoods State Park its totally engulfed in fire, California's oldest state park and home of some of the few redwood forests left in the state after climate change and logging reduced their numbers. I can't believe all of this is burning down right now pic.twitter.com/YkrOUdtMUM— Sterling Crispin 🕊️ (@sterlingcrispin) August 20, 2020
"With 280 state park units, over 340 miles of coastline, 970 miles of lake and river frontage, 15,000 campsites, and 4,500 miles of trails, the department contains the largest and most diverse recreational, natural, and cultural heritage holdings of any state agency in the nation," reads the website of the park which hosts around 250,000 visitors annually from all around the globe. It was recently reopened its trails following the COVID-19 closure, however, it has been closed once again due to the fire. While some of the trees that have blocked the road are waist hight, few continue to burn.
As of Monday, Stellar Jays could be seen looking for its prey insects around the park's partially burned outdoor amphitheater. Some woodpeckers were also heard hammering on trees and the peace of the woods was occasionally disrupted by the thundering crash of large branches or fall of burning trees which echoed through the valley. McLendon assured that the Basin will recover even though it seems like a mammoth task at the moment to clear the trails, rebuild the campground, managed the destroyed madrones, oaks, and firs. "The forest, in some ways, is resetting," said McLendon. Meanwhile, Chris Spohrer the State Parks District Superintendent shared his happiness about the fact that the redwoods had survived. The assessment team has only been able to check the building, but Spohrer hopes that the trees can be inspected in the coming days. "The reason those trees are so old is because they are really resilient," he added.
Disclaimer: This is a developing story, and we’ll update as we learn more. Information about the California fires is swiftly changing, and McGill Media is committed to providing the most recent and verified updates in our articles and reportage. However, considering the frequency in developments, some of the information/data in this article may have changed since the time of publication.