No sooner had one fire in Yosemite been contained than a new one erupted in a different part of the park. This summer’s Western wildfires have brought attention to the risks that climate change brings to America’s national parks and the treasures they contain — like the giant sequoia trees, the largest trees on Earth. In the last two years, fires have consumed nearly 20% of them, according to the Forest Service.

The people who know these forests told me the best place to go to understand the fate of these trees is Kings Canyon, a national park a three-hour drive south of Yosemite. What has happened there is unprecedented in natural history. In Kings Canyon, hundreds of giant sequoias have burned to death — even though these trees were built to burn and survive and rely on fire to reproduce.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.