Giant sequoia trees can grow hundreds of feet tall and live for thousands of years in secluded groves along California’s Sierra Nevada.

“When you walk into a giant sequoia grove, it’s really awe-inspiring,” says Ben Blom of the nonprofit Save the Redwoods League.

He says sequoias evolved to thrive in wildfire-prone areas. But now some wildfires are so intense that they can kill even these massive trees.

That’s because, over the past century, land managers have worked to prevent forest fires. So over time, leaves and branches have piled up into a powder keg of burnable material.

Add to that global warming.

“It kind of creates a perfect storm,” Blom says.

Since 2020, extreme fires have killed more than 10% of California’s mature giant sequoias.

So Blom’s organization is part of a coalition that’s working to protect the remaining trees. To prevent fires from growing too strong, they’re pulling flammable fallen leaves and branches out of sequoia groves.

And they’re planting more young sequoias and other native trees to give these ancient forests a lifeline to the future.

“We’re hoping that the work that we’re doing now will ensure that future generations also have that opportunity to visit these places and have that feeling of awe and inspiration,” Blom says.

Reporting credit: Ethan Freedman/ChavoBart Digital Media