SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS – If a tree falls on someone in the woods, does it make a sound? Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks don’t want you to find out now that parks decided to safeguard developed areas by removing hazardous trees.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks have decided to remove thousands of tree hazards along road corridors following the KNP Complex Wildfire that burned through the parks in the fall of 2021. This will prevent dead and damaged trees from threatening human safety and infrastructure after the KNP Complex Wildfire.
Places where dead or defective trees overlap with developed areas are still considered hazardous. Until the trees are removed they will continue to pose a direct risk to human safety and property. This is why the parks plan to treat much of the debris that falls within 80 feet of the road’s edge. This will protect passageways that serve as fire breaks, evacuation routes and access for firefighters and other emergency personnel. The project is anticipated to begin this summer and will likely continue in 2024.
The decision to clean up dead trees in the area known as the finding of no significant impact (FONSI), represents the final stage in the National Park Service’s project development, review and approval process. This included public scoping on the proposed action in summer 2022, Tribal and agency consultation and most recently the development and spring 2023 public review of an environmental assessment.
The KNP Complex Wildfire burned over 88,000 acres of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and adjacent lands during the fall of 2021. This resulted in high levels of tree mortality across the landscape that added to the already extensive levels of conifer mortality previously documented within the parks and throughout the Sierra Nevada.
All comments received during this planning effort informed the parks’ final decision on how to best address the safety issues stemming from these dead tree hazards while minimizing impacts on natural and cultural resources and visitor experience.
The FONSI was written in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and identifies the selected alternative to minimize the threat to public safety and parks’ infrastructure resulting from dead tree hazards or otherwise damaged by the KNP Complex Wildfire. Compliance with other applicable resource protection laws has also been completed.
The FONSI and supporting documentation are available on the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment website at: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/KNPTreeHazards.