Attorney General Lockyer Defends

Newly Created Giant Sequoia National Monument


March 20, 2001 
01-028
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

(SACRAMENTO) * Seeking to protect the state's unique and
irreplaceable giant redwoods for all Californians, Attorney
General Bill Lockyer today filed motions in federal court
defending the newly created Giant Sequoia National Monument in
the western Sierra Nevada.

The Attorney General said California has a strong interest in
defending the national monument in the Sequoia National Forest
and in preserving the original intent of a decade-old settlement
agreement for forest management which does not create the
personal rights to resource use and access that are now being
suggested by those who want to overturn the Giant Sequoia
National Monument. The Attorney General added that President
Clinton acted within his authority under the federal Antiquities
Act to establish the monument.

The Attorney General's motion to intervene was filed in the U.S.
District Court for the District of Columbia, where the President
was sued by Tulare County and a number of timber interests,
off-road vehicle associations and private property owners to
overturn the monument. As part of the court filings, the Attorney
General asked for dismissal of the lawsuit.

"Californians have a strong and long-standing interest in
achieving permanent and effective protection for these unique and
irreplaceable giant sequoias," Lockyer said. "The giant redwoods
and their surrounding ecosystems were identified for important
protection by the presidential proclamation."

The Giant Sequoia National Monument was established on April 15,
2000, by Proclamation No. 7295 under the Antiquities Act of 1906
to protect numerous objects of scientific and historical value,
including the world's largest trees. Relatively modest, the
328,000-acre monument contains such natural wonders as giant
sequoias that are found nowhere but the western slopes of the
Sierra Nevada.

In 1990, a settlement agreement for the management of the Sequoia
National Forest was reached after a 17-month mediation process
with 27 parties, including the California Attorney General's
Office, the US Forest Service, several environmental groups,
timber and off-road vehicle user groups and other stakeholders.
The settlement resolved a variety of environmental concerns and
resource use issues in the management of the Sequoia National
Forest. Under the agreement, the US Forest Service was directed
to amend its land management plan for the forest to provide,
among other things, greater assurance of protection for forest
resources, including the giant sequoia groves.

The Attorney General's motion expressed concern that the
settlement agreement be interpreted properly "and that it is not
used to advance the interests of certain private signatories over
others." 

"The People of California have at least two important interests
at stake in this litigation," the motion states. "First,
plaintiff seeks a ruling from this Court that the 1990 Agreement
creates personal rights to particular types of resource use and
access within the Sequoia National Forest that, in the People's
view, the Agreement does not, and was never intended to, bestow.
Second, the People of California have a compelling interest in a
full and vigorous defense of the Monument. The People seek to
assure that the Proclamation establishing the Monument is
recognized as a proper exercise of presidential discretion under
the Antiquities Act, and that it is not unduly altered by the
handling or outcome of this litigation." 


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