Jul 14, 2022
Wildfires in the western US have devastated communities and wildlife in recent years. But in California’s Yosemite National Park, a wildfire actually helped a grove of sequoia trees.
At first, the Washburn fire threatened the Mariposa Grove of about 500 giant sequoias. Now, officials say the way in which it has burned, and how firefighters fought it, will help protect the grove in the future. The fire weakened. Firefighters steered it around the grove. It burned a buffer zone that should actually protect the sequoias from future fires.
As wildfires go, the Washburn fire has been tame. It covered less than 4,000 acres. The fire actually burnt areas previously drawn up for controlled burns. Yosemite officials have used controlled fires to thin forested areas. That helps control the fires and move them away from areas they want to save.
These trees are only found in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range. They are among the oldest and tallest trees in the world. Many have been lost to wildfires. People often come from all over to see them.
About 1 in 5 of the huge trees have already died or are expected to die from the fires, National Parks officials told The Wall Street Journal. Thick brush that’s grown around them has turned them into giant fire logs. Wildfires have ravaged the West. But this latest fire has been positive. “Now we will have an awful lot of protection around the grove that is going to last a while,” Garrett Dickman, Yosemite’s forest ecologist, told the Journal.
Photo from Reuters.
Pixels on Fire
In this lesson, students will examine how NASA remotely detects wildfires from space, how they display satellite data about the Earth's climate, and information about three Californian wildfires of the 21st century.
Fired Up Over Math: Studying Wildfires From Space
In this lesson, students will explore fire progression maps for various wildfires in California's history, the Sand Fire's burn scar, and the difficulties firefighters faced during the King Fire.
(Not So) Slow Burn: Teaching Climate Change Through Wildfires
In this lesson, students learn how climate change is making wildfires worse in Oregon and across the globe and create a wildfire solution for prevention or preparation.