Sequoia National Park’s Artifacts Had to Be Evacuated Due to Natural Disaster Threat

Lizzy Rosenberg - Author

Dec. 28 2020, Published 4:39 p.m. ET

sequoia fires
Source: Getty

Over the last several years, California has faced some of the most devastating natural disasters nationwide, from massive earthquakes to ravaging wildfires. One of the most sacred and historical parts of the Golden State, Sequoia National Park, is unfortunately one of many natural lands within the state to withstand these severe storms — which is why rangers and curators have decided to move the park's official records.

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Keep reading for more on why Sequoia National Park was evacuated of all its official records and archives. It seems as though rangers are quite worried about the future of the park, but they hope to continue educating visitors, rangers, and students alike.

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Here's why Sequoia National Park's archives were moved off-site:

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park have been around for hundreds of years now, and they have both hosted quite a bit of history. That being said, with wildfires and earthquakes becoming increasingly common in the last few years, the safety of the park records has become a massive concern, according to EcoWatch. That's why curators have decided to move the records in a safer place outside the danger zones of earthquakes and wildfires, to UC Merced's campus.

In September 2020, wildfires tore through Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, and according to NPS, both were closed to the public for quite a while. That was when the records were officially moved by U-Haul — included the many boxes of plant specimens, artifacts, a complete record of the park's administrative history, founding records, letters written by park directors to U.S. presidents, old photographs, maps, and more. Needless to say, it's dire these are kept safe.

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Aside from being interesting for historians and park visitors, these records are absolutely vital for park rangers to get a better lay of the land, Ph.D students to better understand the management of public lands, conservationists, and more. Needless to say, they're going to be well-kept at UC Merced, where they will be maintained by librarians. Most of the records will be digitized, and they will be more accessible to those who are interested.

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Why are rangers worried wildfires and earthquakes in California will get worse?

Rangers are worried that Sequoia's records will eventually be ravaged by wildfires — as well as earthquakes — because of the effects of climate change. Climate change fuels erratic weather patterns such as wildfires, because droughts lead to dried out vegetation and increased temperatures, which are both recipes for wildfires.

Many also believe that climate change can cause more earthquakes. According to QZ, volcanologist Bill McGuire wrote a book called Waking the Giant: How a Changing Climate Triggers Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and Volcanoes about how the atmosphere getting hotter by only a few degrees can exacerbate the planet's tectonic plates, causing them to shift, ultimately starting an earthquake. 

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california fires
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Basically, because of the earthquakes and wildfires — which are expected to get worse — Sequoia's records were officially relocated. Hopefully, the relocation will have turned out to be unnecessary for the sake of the park, but in situations like this, it's definitely better to be safe than sorry. And remember: nothing is going to change until world leaders take steps to combat the ongoing climate crisis.

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