2,000-year-old redwoods survive devastating wildfires in California

Last week, as California's oldest state park erupted into flames and the historic Big Basin State Park headquarters buildings burned to the ground, people feared the worst. Would we lose the 2,000-year-old redwood trees that bring visitors from all over the world to the area?

Thankfully, now that the fire at Big Basin is under control and people are able to go in an assess the damage, it looks like most of the ancient redwoods have survived the blaze. According to ABC News, a reporter from the Associated Press hiked the Redwood Trail at Big Basin and found that most of the old-growth giants, among the tallest living things on Earth, are still standing tall. That includes Mother of the Forest, a tree that grew to 329 feet tall before its top broke off in a storm, as well as other elder trees.

Reporter from The Mercury News, Ethan Baron, also took photos of the aftermath and reported on Twitter that the "vast majority of giant redwoods in center of Big Basin Redwoods State park scorched but still standing."


"That is such good news. I can't tell you how much that gives me peace of mind," Laura McLendon, conservation director for the Sempervirens Fund, a group dedicated to the protection of the redwoods and their habitats, told the Associated Press. McLendon said the forest will regrow. "Every old-growth redwood I've ever seen, in Big Basin and other parks, has fire scars on them," she said. "They've been through multiple fires, possibly worse than this."

Fire ecologist director of science at Save the Redwoods League, Kristen Shive, told The Mercury News that redwood bark—which can be up to a foot thick—is fire-resistant. If a fire gets hot enough, it can do serious damage, but even badly burned redwoods can eventually recover.



Managing forests includes managing fire, which can be seen as both a blessing and a curse for forest habitats and humans. Not all forest fires are bad. Some trees need occasional fire to thrive, and controlled burns are sometimes used to prevent out-of-control blazes that destroy homes and animal habitats. When left alone, nature tends to create its own balance, but with climate change causing an increase in the frequency and severity of wildfires, in addition to human activity causing some fires in addition to those caused naturally by lightning, it's difficult to judge when fires are actually beneficial.

California has seen historically destructive fire seasons in recent years, and two of this summer's fires are already among the state's worst. As people are evacuated, homes and buildings are destroyed, and air quality from smoke is disrupting the lives of countless Californians, hearing some good news is a welcome breath of fresh air.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

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Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

When the COVID-19 pandemic socially distanced the world and pushed off the 2020 Olympics, we knew the games weren't going to be the same. The fact that they're even happening this year is a miracle, but without spectators and the usual hustle and bustle surrounding the events, it definitely feels different.

But it's not just the games themselves that have changed. The coverage of the Olympics has changed as well, including the unexpected addition of un-expert, uncensored commentary from comedian Kevin Hart and rapper Snoop Dogg on NBC's Peacock.

In the topsy-turvy world we're currently living in, it's both a refreshing and hilarious addition to the Olympic lineup.

Just watch this clip of them narrating an equestrian event. (Language warning if you've got kiddos nearby. The first video is bleeped, but the others aren't.)

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