Congress plans to save California’s giant sequoias from wildfires

California’s fire-ravaged sequoia groves have left scientists and forest managers scrambling to ensure a future for the world’s largest trees.

Over the past two years, nearly a fifth of all giant sequoias, once considered virtually immune to wildfire, burned so badly they died. Fire experts fear more lethal blazes are imminent.

This week, the effort to protect the cherished trees turns to Congress. In a rare show of bipartisanship, California’s Democratic Rep. Scott Peters of San Diego and Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield plan to introduce the Save our Sequoias Act, a bill that would provide money and support to restore and help fireproof the venerable giants.

“It’s something we ought to be able to deal with,” Peters told The Chronicle, noting that even in the politically divisive Beltway, he’s been able to reach across the aisle for partners in the vital endeavor to safeguard the popular sequoia. “This is something as Americans and Californians that we all want to do right away.”

The famous trees grow naturally only in about 75 groves on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada. Revered for their massive, 30-foot-wide trunks and towering heights of 250 feet, the titans can live for 3,000 years.

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