Nightly News | November 03, 2011
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: A giant has fallen in the American West . There was nothing anyone could do about it, but now the debate is under way over what to do with it. Here's NBC's Kristen Dahlgren.
KRISTEN DAHLGREN reporting: They are the giants of legend, the world's largest living organism, here long before the first settlers or today's tourists.
Ms. DENISE ALONZO (Sequoia National Forest): They've been here 1500 to 2,000, 3,000 years.
DAHLGREN: The giant sequoias so significant, they are a national monument . But along what's called the Trail of a Hundred Giants , history has hit a roadblock. That is two giant sequoias fused at the base and incredibly captured on video by a German tourist at the exact moment.
Ms. ALONZO: Giant sequoias do fall in the woods. Most of the time they don't fall on a recreation trail that's visited by 5,000 people a week.
DAHLGREN: It's really hard to understand the size without being here. So to give you some perspective, I'm about 5'8". The base of these trees, some 17 feet wide. The branches are as big as most average trees. And the length? More than a football field. The forest service still doesn't know why.
Ms. ALONZO: Perhaps the saturation of the wet winter and the soil just, the soil gave way.
DAHLGREN: So how do you move something this big?
Ms. ALONZO: That's a good question.
DAHLGREN: They asked the public for ideas on balancing environmentalism and emotion while keeping the path accessible to all.
Mr. BILL EARLS (Visitor): They take a section out just big enough for the trail and leave the rest of it where it lays.
DAHLGREN: Others say build a bridge, a tunnel or even firewood. But many say the only solution is to do nothing.
Mr. ARA MARDEROSIAN (Sequoia Forestkeeper): The trees should be left just as they are...
Unidentified Woman: Wow.
Mr. MARDEROSIAN: ...with the fallen branches left as a classroom for people to understand what nature does.
DAHLGREN: The massive trunks have already taught one lesson, if a tree falls in the forest , it turns out it really does make a sound. Kristen Dahlgren, NBC News, Sequoia National Forest .