SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS (CBS SF) -- Thousands of Giant Sequoias have been burned or suffered terminal damage during this fall's devastating wildfires which raged through several groves of the towering, ancient teams, officials announced Friday.
Damage assessment teams have completed their tour of the devastation left behind by the KNP Complex Fire, which burned mostly within Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, and the Windy Fire, which burned mostly on the Sequoia National Forest.
They estimate across the footprints of the two fires, between 2,261 and 3,637 large giant sequoias (four feet or more in diameter) have either already been killed by fire or have been so severely burned that they are expected to die within the next three to five years.
In total, 27 groves fall fully or partially within the perimeters of the fires -- 16 groves burned in the KNP Complex Fire and 11 groves burned in the Windy Fire.
The losses make up approximately 3-5% of the world's population of large giant sequoias.
"The sobering reality is that we have seen another huge loss within a finite population of these iconic trees that are irreplaceable in many lifetimes," said Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Superintendent Clay Jordan in a news release. "As we navigate the complex process of restoring access to the parks, we will continue to work diligently with our partners in the Giant Sequoia Lands Coalition to become ever-better stewards of these incredibly special places, despite the enormous challenges we face."
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