2,000 Year Old Redwood Trees Survive Wildfire At California's Oldest State Park

August 26, 2020

When a massive wildfire swept through California's oldest state park last week it was feared many trees in a grove of old-growth redwoods, some of them 2,000 years old and among the tallest living things on Earth, may finally have succumbed.

redwood trees survive wildfire
Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

But an Associated Press reporter and photographer hiked the renowned Redwood Trail at Big Basin Redwoods State Park on Monday and confirmed most of the ancient redwoods had withstood the blaze. Among the survivors is one dubbed Mother of the Forest.

"That is such good news, I can't tell you how much that gives me peace of mind," said Laura McLendon, conservation director for the Sempervirens Fund, an environmental group dedicated to the protection of redwoods and their habitats.

Redwood forests are meant to burn, she said, so reports earlier this week that the state park was "gone" were misleading.

The historic park headquarters is gone, as are many small buildings and campground infrastructure that went up in flames as fire swept through the park about 45 miles south of San Francisco.

"But the forest is not gone," McLendon said. "It will regrow. Every old growth redwood I've ever seen, in Big Basin and other parks, has fire scars on them. They've been through multiple fires, possibly worse than this."

State Parks District Superintendent Chris Spohrer said he was pleased to know the redwoods had survived. He said an assessment team had only been able to check buildings so far, and that he hopes they can inspect the trees in the coming days.

"The reason those trees are so old is because they are really resilient," he said.

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