By Amanda Wilkes:
In its size and stature, the California state tree undoubtedly trumps most others. The ancient Giant Sequoia can grow to be over 30 stories high, with a 30-foot diameter. They have been thriving in many areas for over 3,000 years! Unfortunately, even with all their strength and might, they are undoubtedly feeling the effects of the California drought.
It has been nearly five years since California and its famous Giant Sequoias have experienced sufficient rainfall, leaving us all with varying risks. However, when considering that the Giant Sequoias require nearly 500 gallons of water each day, it is easy to understand why there is reason to worry. Ecologists are concerned with the risks that could occur for the natural giants if their environmental conditions don’t change.
Recent studies have found that the typically resilient trees are beginning to show signs of stress and that some have lost up to 75 percent of their leaves. According to some researchers, there are still plenty of healthy and thriving trees; however, the trees seemingly in distress appear stressed in ways that researchers have never seen before.
An elite group of Northern California researchers is studying 40 trees and have attached monitoring devices to access up-to-date results. In late August, researchers will be climbing to the tops of many of the trees to retrieve clippings that will be taken to a lab for further diagnoses.
Considering that these giant trees have been recorded to live over 3,000 years, they obviously have experienced and resisted plenty of droughts since their time as seedlings. However, with the California drought being considered one of the worst in over 1,200 years, doing what we can to protect one of our most sacred state symbols is essential. Researchers are most interested in discovering what it would take for a drought to wipe out California’s signature Giant Sequoias and to prevent that from ever happening.
Visit these sights to learn more about water conservation in California and ways to protect our sacred Giant Sequoias: