Op-Ed: With climate change, we may witness sequoia forests convert to chaparral
I saw a beautiful tree, growing in the front meadow of our little town. It was probably 200 years old! In a matter of days it was gone. It was a sequoia, the oldest known living thing in the world, and the biggest tree in our town at the time of its death. It’s only now, a decade later, that I feel like I have some closure over what’s left of my beloved tree.
I first met my tree, its “branch” as I like to call it, in 2004. Its trunk became more and more unstable as I grew older, and I was concerned that it would eventually fall over. I wasn’t too concerned then and only realized in retrospect that it was already dying.
The tree had a strange gash on its trunk, which I thought would heal with time, but it didn’t. I had my friend John come and check it out one morning. I’m not sure how he found it, but it was really creepy. He found a tiny, tiny hole at the base of a long, twisted root, and he figured out what had happened. The root had been cut off the tree and the tree was dying by the roots.
Now, not only was I concerned about my tree, but I was pretty convinced the root had fallen on my house just weeks ahead of time. How did that happen?
The root had been cut off, cutting down the tree! Its branches spread out in the front yard, but the trunk remained. It was dead by the roots, and it was just a matter of time before it died as well.
John and I were not the only ones who saw the tree had fallen. Just down the street there was a tree fallen, and the one next to it fell in the driveway. Within a month there were multiple tree falls, and by the time it had been three months since my tree had fallen, the street and driveway were littered with dead trees.
This was not a tree disease, it was just a tree dying from the bottom up by the roots. It was quite a discovery for me then, and it was a discovery that made me realize I wanted to be more prepared for the day when that tree would die.
With many forest management practices, there is a risk