Saturday, October 29, 2011
Along the Sierra Nevada's famed Trail of 100 Giants, the mammoth sequoia had stood sentry since King Arthur's knights gathered at the Round Table.
It witnessed the arrival of the first European settlers and the flurry of miners in search of gold. The onset of the Medieval Warm Period and the passing of the Little Ice Age. It stood, unperturbed, through the Great War and the one that followed.
Then a month ago, as a handful of amazed tourists looked on, it toppled — crushing a bridge over a small stream and blocking the path.
Now, the U.S. Forest Service must decide what to do.
Slice a big hole in the 300-foot-long roadblock? Go around it? Over it? Under it?
When you're dealing with a 1,500-year-old sequoia in a national monument, the questions aren't just logistical. They're environmental, emotive and potentially legal.
Officials closed the popular tourist trail, cleared the debris and solicited ideas from the public on how to deal with the fallen giant — actually two trees fused at the base.
Among the 30 or so suggestions: Reroute the trail. Tunnel under the trunks. Carve steps and build a bridge over them. Sell what would be one heck of a lot of firewood.