Sequoia National Park will partially reopen this week


Those venturing into Sequoia National Park – which partially reopens Thursday after about two months of closure – will see areas charred from wildfires that are still active, including burned trees at higher elevations.

From certain vantage points, visitors to the park in the southern Sierra Nevada will see smoke billowing from areas where the KNP complex fire continues to burn, the fire department said.

But thanks to the recent rains, you will also see green grass.

As more rain arrived on Tuesday, there will be areas that “resemble a green carpet,” said Mark Ruggiero, a fire intelligence officer.

“It’s going to look a bit like spring,” he said in burned areas where regrowth has started.

Some of the park’s biggest attractions remain closed, including the Giant Forest, famous for its redwoods, including the General Sherman, believed to be the world’s largest tree by volume. The giant tree was encased in a fireproof aluminum material before flames ripped through the forest and emerged unharmed.

A portion of the park’s promontory will reopen Thursday at 7 a.m. for daytime use only. The reopening coincides with Veterans Day, which officials say is the last toll-free day for national parks this year.

The park was closed in mid-September after two lightning-triggered wildfires in the area ignited and merged, potentially killing hundreds of redwoods.

Flames from the KNP complex fire have charred approximately 88,300 acres and are still only 75% contained.

Most of the adjacent Kings Canyon National Park reopened last month. There, visitors can see giant sequoias in Grant Grove, home to the second largest tree in the world, the General Grant Tree.

The reopened Sequoia National Park area will stretch from the Ash Mountain entrance to the Hospital Rock Picnic Area, about six miles up Generals Highway, and will include the Foothills Visitor Center, Tunnel Rock and some hiking trails, park officials said.

Lodgepole, Potwisha, and Buckeye Flat campgrounds, as well as Marble Falls, Paradise Creek, and Potwisha-Hospital Rock hiking trails, remain closed.

Generals Highway remains closed past Hospital Rock.

Ruggiero said the opening could expand to the General Sherman tree within a week. There is no expected date for a full reopening.

The fire at the KNP complex is still burning in some areas with heavy oil deposits, including Sequoia groves, which have been subject to an intense fire.

“Realistically, some of these bags could burn all winter, even with snow,” Ruggiero said.

The flames pose no danger to people or property, he said.

The fire has spread to 15 giant sequoia groves, Christy Brigham, director of resource management and science for the parks, said in early October.

Park officials wrote on Facebook that they suspect hundreds of redwoods have been killed by the blaze.

By that time, the Windy Fire, which was burning in Sequoia National Forest and the Tule River Indian Reservation to the south, had wiped out at least 74 giant trees, according to Garrett Dickman, a botanist assigned to the fire.

An updated assessment of the trees in Sequoia National Park could be released as early as next week, Brigham said. Sequoia National Park will partially reopen this week

Russell Falcon

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