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Despite reports to the contrary, AP finds redwoods still standing

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AP photographer Marcio Sanchez covers the wildfires at Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Calif., August 2020.

Marcio Sanchez, photographer, Los Angeles, and Martha Mendoza, California-based investigative writer, broke the news that the massive and renowned old-growth redwood trees at Big Basin Redwoods State Park had largely survived the region’s devastating wildfires. After other media reported that the ancient trees were “doomed” and had been “wiped out,” Mendoza and Sanchez hiked several smoky miles over waist-high fallen trees to find that the old-growth trees in the park – including the iconic Father and Mother of the Forest – were most definitely standing and had not burned. Even the signs marking the trees were unscathed.

More than 200 AP clients used the story, and the positive news resonated with readers as far away as Iran and India, generating heavy engagement.

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An old-growth redwood tree named “Mother of the Forest” stands largely unscathed in Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Calif., Aug. 24, 2020. The CZU Lightning Complex wildfire tore through the park but most of the redwoods, some as old as 2,000 years, were still standing. – AP Photo / Marcio Jose Sanchez
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