California’s forests are home to some of the most special trees on earth
The world’s biggest tree and tallest tree — the General Sherman giant sequoia and the Hyperion redwood — grow in California. The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is home to the world’s oldest trees, with some reaching 5,000 years of age.
California’s forests support hundreds of thousands of jobs
California boasts treasured outdoor recreation hubs like Yosemite National Park and Lake Tahoe. These forested landscapes are major players in California’s massive outdoor recreation industry, which supports nearly 700,000 direct jobs and brings in $6.2 billion in tax revenue each year. California’s forests also support nearly 70,000 jobs in wood and paper products, as well as thousands of jobs in wildland fire fighting, forest conservation and more.
California’s forests can help slow climate change
California’s forests store vast amounts of carbon. Ancient redwood forests store more carbon in their above-ground structures — trunks, branches and leaves — than any other forest type on earth. And forests in the Sierra Nevada hold 420 million tons of carbon, roughly equivalent to California’s total annual carbon emissions. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in their wood and roots for hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of years
California’s forests supply water to millions of people
California’s forests supply over 60 percent of the state’s water. Mountain forests and meadows absorb rain and snowmelt, and slowly release this water during the dry summer months. Trees shade snow, preventing it from melting too quickly. They also help filter water and keep it clear of sediment. All this snow and water is also essential to California’s outdoor recreation industry, which draws anglers, canoers, skiers and hikers from around the world.
California’s forests are home to iconic wildlife
California’s vast forests provide invaluable habitat for elk, mountain lions, the rare Pacific fisher and other wildlife. The Sierra Nevada mountains are a globally recognized hub for biodiversity. Thirteen vertebrate animals are found only in the Sierra Nevada, including the long-eared chipmunk and golden trout. Adding to these rare creatures are 400 species of plant that only grow in this mountain range.