USDA Forest Service Initiates Action on Giant Sequoia Emergency Response

Release Date: Aug 16, 2022

Contact(s): Alicia Embrey

The Sequoia National Forest announces implementation of the Giant Sequoia Emergency Response (GSER) in the Giant Sequoia National Monument within Fresno and Tulare counties. The objective of this emergency response is to reduce the wildfire risk that currently threatens the giant sequoia groves.

Wildfires have killed almost 20% of the largest giant sequoia trees in the world in the last two years. Giant sequoias need low to moderate severity fires to be healthy; however, fire exclusion over the last 150 years and expansive tree mortality from drought created conditions that leave 11 giant sequoia groves within the Giant Sequoia National Monument extremely vulnerable to high severity fire.

“These 11 groves in the Monument are a high priority due to excessive fuels. The emergency authority given to these groves does not mean that they are the only groves to be treated,” said Gretchen Fitzgerald, Ecosystem Staff Officer on the Sequoia National Forest. “Of the Monument’s 33 groves, these 11 were chosen for treatment in phase one. Phase one treatment will initially focus on providing safe access to these groves for our crews and the public. Once we gain safe access to these groves, we will work on hand-cutting small trees, piling or lopping-and-scattering the debris, and pulling duff away from the base of large giant sequoia trees and stumps.”

Future treatments may include mechanical treatments, where appropriate, to remove excessive fuels, and prescribed burning.

“Fuel treatments from this emergency response will take some time for us to implement because the safety of our crews and the public is of the utmost importance, along with protecting these giant, iconic trees,” says Teresa Benson, Forest Supervisor of the Sequoia National Forest. “By reducing the potential for mortality of the monarch giant sequoias during high-severity fire, and taking the actions we are taking now, we will protect the people, our communities, and our land for generations to come.”

Long-term plans for preserving these national treasures will continue as the forest works to complete two landscape-scale projects designed to protect and sustain the giant sequoia groves and hillsides around them.

The 11 groves are listed below, with work already underway in the Bearskin, Black Mountain, Indian Basin and Wishon groves.

1. Abbott
2. Bearskin
3. Belknap Complex
4. Black Mountain
5. Burro Creek
6. Grant
7. Indian Basin
8. Landslide
9. Long Meadow
10. Silver Creek