The Pioneer Cabin Tree, a California landmark loved by tourists for decades, has been toppled by wind.
A giant sequoia, the huge tree was 150 feet tall. The cutout in its trunk was wide enough to drive cars through and, over the years, many cars did pass under the tree.
Eventually California authorities closed access to cars, but in recent years there has been a hiking trail that leads to it and visitors could still stand in the cutout.
Located in Calaveras Big Trees State Park, the Pioneer Cabin Tree – also known as the Tunnel Tree – was estimated to be over 1,000 years old. The large hole in its trunk was carved by owners of the land on which it grew in 1880.
A report in the San Francisco Chronicle explained that there is no way to be sure of the reason why the Tunnel Tree could not withstand the storm that has hit the Golden State in recent days. That storm, the worst in at least a decade, flooded Calaveras Big Trees State Park. The Chronicle explained that the Tunnel Tree’s shallow root system, typical for a sequoia, was likely a factor.
Giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum), also known as redwoods, are the world’s largest organisms by volume. They can grow to a height of 85 meters and have been known to live for more than 3,500 years.
Now that the Pioneer Cabin Tree has fallen, there are no longer any known living sequoia trees with tunnels through their trunks.
Top: California as seen by NASA’s Terra satellite, Jan. 18, 2013
Bottom: California as seen by NASA’s Terra satellite, Jan. 18, 2014
Images courtesy NASA
The White House said Friday that President Barack Obama will ask Congress to invest $1 billion in a fund aimed at helping researchers improve understanding of climate change impacts, affected communities cope with impacts of the changing climate, and fund infrastructure needed to mitigate climate risk.
The proposal will be included in the administration’s fiscal year 2015 budget request to Congress.
“In addition to responding to the immediate drought in California, the President believes that we must do more to help communities across the country become more resilient to the effects of climate change,” according to a fact sheet released by the White House. “Recent events have reinforced our knowledge that our communities and economy remain vulnerable to extreme weather and natural hazards.”
Obama planned to pitch the Climate Resilience Fund idea during a speech in California Friday.
The fund is not the only financial response to ongoing climate change impacts pursued by the White House.
Obama is also planning to provide tens of millions of dollars of assistance to communities affected by drought, as well as watershed and soil conservation and protection of livestock.