Wildfires in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in central California are threatening sequoia groves containing some of the oldest and biggest trees in the world.
The Colony, Paradise and Windy fires were ignited last week by lightning, and park officials have been working to contain their spread with water and retardant drops, according to a statement on Monday.
But the fires have been difficult to suppress, in part because the Paradise fire, spanning more than 800 acres, is in steep, densely forested terrain and is inaccessible from the ground. In total, the fires are spreading across more than 1,000 acres without any containment.
Over the past year, wildfires have burned millions of acres across California and other Western states, destroying hundreds of giant sequoias, redwoods and more than one million Joshua trees.
Giant sequoias, which can reach ages of up to 3,400 years and grow taller than 300 feet, can handle — and, to an extent, depend on — periodic fires. Their bark helps protect them and insulates them from the heat. At the same time, fires clear the soil around sequoias, leaving it in a prime condition for sequoia seeds to grow. Fires also burn off trees that compete for the sunlight that young sequoias need to flourish.
But the increased severity of fires in recent years, fueled by the quickening pace of global warming, has posed a major threat to the state’s most beloved trees. In last year’s Castle fire, between 7,000 and 11,000 large sequoias died across the Sierra Nevada, or about 10 to 14 percent of them, according to the National Park Service. Two thirds of giant sequoia grove acreage across the Sierra Nevada burned between 2015 and 2020, compared to a quarter in the previous century, the park service has said.
The Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks said in the statement that the fires, in addition to posing threats to park infrastructure and resources, had caused poor air quality for nearby communities. Sequoia National Park is temporarily closed, while Kings Canyon National Park remains open.
Wildfires have consumed over two million acres in California this year. The largest, the Dixie fire in Northern California, has burned nearly one million acres in the past two months and is 75 percent contained, according to a New York Times wildfire tracker.
On Monday, President Biden flew over the Caldor fire, which has consumed more than 200,000 acres south of Lake Tahoe and forced thousands of people from their homes.
“These fires are blinking code red for our nation,” said Mr. Biden, who used the occasion to promote two bills pending in Congress that would fund forest management and more resilient infrastructure as well as combat global warming.
Ted Cruz Claims Biden Vaccine Mandate Is A Conspiracy
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) claimed that the Biden vaccine mandate is a conspiracy to distract from Afghanistan.
Ted Cruz claims Biden vaccine mandate is a conspiracy to distract from Afghanistan, “The president is defying the law because he wanted the press to start defending him and stop talking about the disasters in Afghanistan.” pic.twitter.com/olGDtBBiq9
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) September 19, 2021
Cruz said on Fox News’s Sunday Morning Futures, “You put your finger on what the white house is trying to do, they want to change the topic from Afghanistan. It’s why Biden issued this completely illegal and unconstitutional vaccine mandate because he wanted to change the topic from the disaster in Afghanistan, the vaccine mandate is going to be struck down in court, they know that, but the president is defying the law because he wanted the press to start defending him and stop talking about the disasters in Afghanistan and he’s counting on a bunch of big businesses, in particular, forcing their employees to comply before the matter is ever adjudicated and before the order is struck down.”
Ted Cruz Is Wrong On The Vaccine Mandate
The vaccine mandate is not unconstitutional. The President has hundreds of years of legal precedent supporting his order, so that part of Cruz’s conspiracy theory doesn’t work.
Sen. Cruz is ignoring that the coronavirus is killing people all across the country in order to be able to claim that the mandate is a conspiracy theory to distract from Afghanistan.
The media coverage has, as expected, faded on Afghanistan. The vast majority of Americans support the Biden position of ending the war, no matter how messy the US exit was.
Ted Cruz has managed to combine two losing issues for Republicans into a conspiracy theory that will only appeal to their base.
Cruz is a political shapeshifter, so if you want to know which way the wind is blowing in the GOP, listen to Ted Cruz for five minutes.
What weather vane Ted is telling us is that the Republican Party is heading for a whole new level of crazy.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association
Human Remains Believed to Belong to Woman Missing in Van Mystery Are Found
Human remains believed to belong to a Florida woman reported missing after her fiancé returned home from a monthslong van trip without her were found in a national forest in Wyoming on Sunday, the F.B.I. said at a news conference.
“Earlier today, human remains were discovered, consistent with a description of Gabrielle (Gabby) Petito,” said Charles Jones, an F.BI. agent, adding that a full forensic identification had not been completed to confirm the remains were those of Ms. Petito, 22.
The remains were found in the area of the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area, located in the Bridger-Teton National Forest on the east boundary of Grand Teton National Park, Mr. Jones said, adding that the campsite will remain closed.
A cause of death had not been determined, Mr. Jones said.
The discovery of the remains believed to be that of Ms. Petito appeared to end one search for a missing person as another continued for her missing fiancé, Brian Laundrie, 23, after his parents told the police they had not seen him in days.
Mr. Laundrie, whom the police have called a “person of interest,” had through a lawyer declined to speak with investigators, the police said. When his parents told the police that he, too, was missing, a search for him began that included scouring a vast Florida wildlife refuge.
As the police, F.B.I. agents and National Park rangers searched for Ms. Petito in Wyoming, the woman’s last known whereabouts, according to her family, the authorities in Florida searched for Mr. Laundrie in the refuge, a 24,565-acre park in Sarasota County called the Carlton Reserve. On Sunday afternoon, the police in North Port, Fla., said their search at the Carlton Reserve had ended with nothing new to report.
The North Port Police Department said they were “saddened and heartbroken to learn that Gabby has been found deceased.”
“We will continue to work with the F.B.I. in the search for more answers,” they said.
Ms. Petito left with Mr. Laundrie in July in a white Ford van outfitted for a cross-country adventure. On Sept. 1, Mr. Laundrie returned to the home in North Port, Fla., where he lived with his parents and Ms. Petito, in the white van that the couple had used for the trip and that had been registered to Ms. Petito.
Ten days later, Ms. Petito was reported missing by her parents on Sept. 11, according to the police.
In the days after Ms. Petito was reported missing, the authorities expressed “frustration” in their efforts to speak to Mr. Laundrie, who has not been declared a suspect in the case.
The case has drawn widespread attention, as reporters have gathered outside Mr. Laundrie’s house and some in the public have scoured the couple’s Instagram accounts, which depicted a seemingly carefree, nomadic “van life” in the American West.
Ms. Petito and Mr. Laundrie left New York on July 2 for what was supposed to be a four-month, cross-country trip visiting national parks, said Ms. Petito’s stepfather, Jim Schmidt. The couple posted photos and cheerful updates on Instagram and YouTube, and outfitted the van with a bed, tiny bookcases and plants and art.
But something apparently went wrong in Moab, Utah, Ms. Petito’s family said.
On Aug. 12, police officers there responded to a report of a “domestic problem” after Mr. Laundrie had “some sort of argument” with Ms. Petito and told her to take a walk and calm down, according to a police report.
Mr. Laundrie and Ms. Petito both told the officers that they were in love and engaged to be married and “desperately didn’t wish to see anyone charged with a crime,” the report said.
Mr. Laundrie told one officer that “issues between the two had been building over the last few days,” it said.
During the encounter with the police, Ms. Petito cried and said she suffered from anxiety, according to body camera footage of the episode. In the police report, Ms. Petito is recorded saying she moved to slap Mr. Laundrie because she feared that he “was going to leave her in Moab without a ride.”
Both told the police that the episode should be classified as a “mental/emotional health ‘break,’” rather than as a domestic assault.
In the report, the police described Mr. Laundrie as the victim of the incident. They arranged for him to stay in a hotel that night while Ms. Petito kept the van. No charges were filed, the report states.
In social media posts published before and after Aug. 12, the couple documented their trip, including with many photos of Ms. Petito posing against backdrops of nature. The YouTube video showed the couple kissing, scaling rocks and laughing at how the Utah sun had melted the chocolate in Mr. Laundrie’s granola.
“I love the van,” Ms. Petito said, smiling at Mr. Laundrie.
Ms. Petito, the oldest of six siblings, had worked as a pharmacy technician to save money for the trip. She met Mr. Laundrie at Bayport-Blue Point High School on Long Island, Mr. Schmidt said. They began dating after graduation and moved two years ago to Florida, he said.
In their posts from 2020, the couple expressed excitement about their future.
Alan Yuhas contributed reporting.
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