Op-Ed: With climate change, we may witness sequoia forests convert to chaparral
The threat of rising global temperatures and changes in precipitation patterns is threatening our national parks. Yet there’s hope.
The national parks I most love are in Alaska, California, Oregon, British Columbia and Washington state. Each park is unique, but in their locations they feel quite like one. They are as much a part of the landscape as hills or rivers. They are, in essence, part of the landscape.
In my own personal travels, I love the mountains of California’s Yosemite and the vast coastline of the Puget Sound. My family loves the waterfalls of Oregon, the mountains of Washington State, the forests of California and the forests of British Columbia. And, my favorite of all, I love the parks like Mt. Rainier, in Washington State, the Olympic National Park in neighboring Washington and the Cascade mountain ranges in Oregon and California.
When I decided to write this piece, I was in a very different place than I am today. When I first moved to my Seattle neighborhood in the late 1990s, I had no clue about the impending threats to our national parks or my own favorite places. This has changed dramatically over the past few years, as scientists and our national park system have become increasingly concerned about an increasingly unstable climate.
In 2007, my brother and I drove over to Oregon’s Mt. Baker in a VW bug. (My brother and I had taken our two small children and two cats and my wife, Janet, and our dogs to Yosemite National Park the year before.) Mt. Baker lies in a valley between two mountain ranges in the Cascade Mountains. It was there, at the edge of a canyon that had seen some of the lowest snowfall in the park, that I watched snow disappear from one of the many crags near the bottom of the canyon (I’m pretty sure there were several crags at the same elevation).