SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) — Sequoia National Park will reopen its giant forest area on Saturday, three months after a wildfire in northern California sparked extraordinary efforts to protect the grove and destroyed thousands more redwoods.
The giant forest will be open during the day on Saturday and Sunday, then Thursday to Sunday. The grove will change to 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 is available in the grove.
The giant forest includes the General Sherman tree, the largest living thing on earth by volume. The grove had been closed since mid-September, when a lightning-caused fire complex tore through the Sierra Nevada.
Fire crews went to extreme measures to protect the tallest and oldest trees in the forest from the giants. They wrapped the trunks in fire-resistant sheeting, installed sprinklers, picked up flammable materials from around the trees, and placed fire-retardant gel on the tops of the trees, some 200 feet (60 meters) above the ground.
The measures saved the Forest of Giants but they could not be deployed everywhere.
Fires in Sequoia National Park and the surrounding Sequoia National Forest have destroyed more than a third of California’s groves and burned about 2,261 to 3,637 redwood trees, park officials said.
Nearby wildfires last year killed an unprecedented 7,500 to 10,400 giant sequoias that are native to only about 70 groves scattered along the western side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
Losses now amount to 13% to 19% of the 75,000 redwood trees over 4 feet (1.2 meters) in diameter.
The trees depend on periodic low-intensity fires and were once considered fire resistant. But fires that have grown more severe as climate change brings hotter droughts and blazes have torn through dozens of groves in the Sierra Nevada mountains over the past six years, killing giants in large numbers for the first time.
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