Wildfires Threatening Yosemite National Park

One of the most breathtaking places on earth, Yosemite National Park, is in danger of devastating destruction from wildfires nearby the park. Mariposa Grove in Yosemite houses the largest and some of the oldest trees globally, the famous California sequoias, and is now temporarily closed as firefighters attempt to contain the fire before it begins to burn the famous trees. More than 500 sequoia trees that are thousands of years old are at risk, but no damage has been reported yet to these specific trees. 

While the landmarks typically associated with Yosemite include Half Dome, El Capitan, and spectacular waterfalls, the Wawona area outside of the park in fire danger is also a fundamental part of this National Park, including campgrounds, ranger housing, and the Mariposa Grove. For those who have been to Yosemite National Park, the outskirts of the area are visibly destroyed after being burned by wildfires over the past few years. Although most widespread wildfires are tragic and ruin the natural environment, homes, and buildings, this specific fire has been especially concerning due to the speciality of these trees themselves. 

The lower portion of Mariposa Grove, further south from the main section of Yosemite National Park, has continued to burn, but firefighters have wrapped many of the giant sequoias in fire-resistant foil. Luckily, these resilient trees are well-adapted to this climate and don’t burn as easily as other trees, but unfortunately the years of increasing fires have made them more vulnerable than they once were, and no longer impenetrable to the flames. 

In addition to being marvelous trees to admire, with the “General Sherman Tree” standing at 275 feet as the tallest tree on earth, scientists have also shared that sequoias are extremely important for our atmosphere, since they are “phenomenal at sequestering massive amounts of CO2 — and locking carbon down for thousands of years.” As of today, the Washburn Fire is 25% contained, and firefighters have surrounded the perimeter of the grove with a 4-foot-tall sprinkler system to maintain moisture in the air and hopefully prevent irreversible damage. 

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