The mighty sequoias of … San Diego?

Jim Hamerly is planting a tree you wouldn't normally find here in Southern California. He hopes his efforts will continue for generations

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A local man is reforesting his land by planting a tree you wouldn't typically see in Southern California.

On Jim Hamerly's property on Palomar Mountain, he's been growing and planting sequoia trees. His mission isn't just about what will happen to these trees in the next year or two but what they'll look like in 500 years.

”I have a grove of about 70 trees," he said. "There are about another 200 or so on the mountain I have located.”

It turns out, they grow well on Palomar Mountain, according to Hamerly.

”Above 4,000 feet, you have to have some rain, so west-facing properties, which my property is, that face toward the ocean," Hamerly said.

Sequoia trees live for thousands of years. Yosemite National Park and Sequoia National Park are decorated with these trees that outlive generations. Hamerly wants to reproduce that here in Southern California.

"I want my children, my grandchildren, my great, great, great, great-grandchildren to see these trees someday and think back to what it took to put them here and get them to grow," Hamerly said.

The trees can grow really tall, reaching about 300 feet.

Right now, the tallest tree on Hamerly's property is just above 30 feet. He says they'll typically grow about two feet per year.

”I may see these trees hit 100 feet, maybe, depends on how long I live," Hamerly said jokingly.

Jokes aside, he wants to reintroduce them to this area, and he's not the only one in Southern California doing so.

”San Bernardino has two groves, and San Jacinto mountains have two groves that I know of," Hamerly said.

Hamerly's efforts trail what is a bigger issue for these giant trees. According to the National Parks Service, giant sequoias have faced serious threats across the Sierra Nevada over the recent years, including from wildfires and native bark beetles.

He says these towering trees can provide several environmental benefits over thousands of years.

”The real primary advantage of sequoias is because of their large size and longevity, they sequester much more carbon than a typical tree that could last 3,000 years that could last for years if you keep them to maturity," Hamerly said.

Which is why he'll do what he can to protect them.

"I’m in the process of putting it into a conservation easement which is to protect the property," Hamerly said. "Even though a private land owner can still own the land, they can’t cut the trees down.”

Although he won't be here to see it, he's thinking about the future of these trees many years from now.

”If you’ve been to Sequoia National Park, Yosemite National Park, you’ve seen these massive trees, and you realize they’ve been around for 2,000, 3,000 years," he said. "That’s a legacy right there. I’d like to reproduce that here.“

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