A major storm system packing winds of 80 mph or higher has toppled some of the world’s most famous trees.
Yosemite National Park said 15 of the giant sequoias in the park’s famed Mariposa Grove fell in the storm last week, up from the two initially reported.
“We have extensive damage in the park,” spokesperson Scott Gediman told the San Jose Mercury News. “Millions and millions of dollars. There could be more giant sequoias down. We are continuing the damage assessment.”
No one was injured, but the Los Angeles Times reported that the park suffered its most extensive damage since the 1997 floods and will likely require some $200 million in repairs.
The storm system also did major damage to the surrounding local communities; one resident told the Fresno Bee the area was like a “total war zone.”
The park said on social media that none of Mariposa Grove’s “named” trees, such as the Grizzly Giant, were among the fallen.
The park was also hit by a second storm this week, which has led to more damage to park facilities from falling trees and branches. As a result, Yosemite will remain closed until Monday while repairs are made and roads and parking lots cleared.
Mariposa Grove is home to more than 500 giant sequoias. The facilities around them, including a visitor center and boardwalk, reopened in 2018 after an extensive multi-year project.
Images of the big trees of Mariposa and Yosemite Valley helped capture the public imagination in the 19th century. That led to President Abraham Lincoln signing the Yosemite Grant Act in 1864, which set aside the grove as well as Yosemite Valley as an act of preservation that predates the National Park System.
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