Forest Service seeks input on fallen sequoias
October 25, 2011
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) – If a tree falls in the woods, nobody really cares. But when two of California’s 1,500-year-old giant sequoia trees fell across a popular hiking trail inside a national monument, a lot of people had ideas about what to do with them.
“All the debris should be left as a classroom for the public and scientists to study what happens in nature,” said Ara Marderosian, executive director of Sequoia ForestKeeper, which advocates for giant sequoia protections.
Others suggested the redwoods be sawed up and sold for firewood and fence posts.
The recommendations are among scores received by the U.S. Forest Service since Sept. 30, when the two giant redwoods toppled onto the Trail of 100 Giants in the Sequoia National Monument inside Sequoia National Forest.
Over the weekend, 100 people showed up at the urging of the forest service to see the trees and assess damage on the popular trail hiked by as many as 5,000 visitors a day. Dozens others concerned about the fate of the trees and trail are weighing in online.
“It’s unusual for trees to fall on a recreation site,” said Denise Alonzo, public affairs officer for the forest. “If this tree were out in the woods and not on a trail, it would not become an issue.” Suggestions have included cutting a pass through the tree and leaving it in place, or rerouting the trail around it.
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The forest service will take suggestions until Friday before performing an environmental assessment. Work likely won’t begin before the summer of 2012.
The toppled giants had grown together to form one 17-foot diameter trunk, then separated into two at about the height of a three-story building. Nobody knows why the sequoias fell. An examination ruled out pest damage; some think that two creeks that run by the trees weakened the root systems.
“Maybe the soil just didn’t dry out enough from the winter,” Alonzo said.
Whatever the reason, it’s rare for a giant sequoia to topple over for no apparent reason.
“I have never experienced anything like that falling in this forest,” said Alonzo, who has worked there for 23 years.