Sequoia Task Force Alert

by Carla Cloer, Chair of the Sierra Club Sequoia Task Force

March, 2000


Giant Sequoia National Monument A Birthday Present for John Muir and the World!

On John Muir's birthday this coming April 21st, both Muir and the American people may get a fantastic birthday present. Presi­dent Clinton has announced he may protect the "forgotten" half of the Giant Sequoia ecosystem in a Giant Sequoia National Monument. A hundred years ago John Muir began the campaign to protect all the Giant Sequoias, yet today less than half are pro­tected in the National Park. If President Clinton carries out his proposal, Muir's dream could come true. Clinton's decision is expected within the next 45 days. What is the Monument proposal and how will it affect forest management and local people?

The Monument Proposal

Under the Antiquities Act of 1906, Presi­dents can declare qualifying lands as Na­tional Monuments to "protect objects of scientific or cultural interest." Thousands of years old Sequoia trees, the largest living things on earth, certainly qualify under both counts. Local conservationists have worked for twenty years to protect our local Sierra Nevada by urging legislation to protect the Big Trees while preserving local property rights, working within Forest Service proce­dures to protect watersheds and ancient forests, and filing successful lawsuits to stop logging in Sequoia groves and the forests of which they are a part.

Today, a Sequoia Monument proposal, largely based on our Sequoia Bill, is sitting on President Clinton's desk. We are proud of this proposal. It is well-thought-out, reasonable and responsible. It will protect a dynamic forest ecosystem, allow restoration, and be people friendly. It is neither a Park nor a Wilderness. It deserves your immedi­ate support.

The Monument would include about 400,000 acres of publicly owned National Forest lands. This compares to the 402,000 acres that Sequoia National Park uses to protect its half of the Sequoia ecosystem (with somewhat fewer groves). Monument lands would include 37 Sequoia groves and their surrounding forests which affect fire regimens, ground water flows, and wildlife populations. The Monument would be in two units, (Hume District and Southern) both contiguous with Sequoia National Park. It would incorporate some of the most intact old growth forest remaining in the Sierra Nevada as well as damaged lands which would be rehabilitated. Many Na­tional Monuments are managed by the Park System, but our proposal suggests manage­ment by the Forest Service. Monument provisions would, however, include specific language based on Park Service practices for forest management and restoration, includ­ing an end to commercial logging. But we do NOT propose that the Monument be a Park. Except for logging, most activities currently allowed in the Sequoia National Forest will continue.

 The FACTS: Don't Be Misled!

There are many preposterous rumors being circulated. Those who want to haul our ancient forests to the bank are fanning the fires of panic! One woman heard that people wouldn't be able to walk on Monu­ment lands!!! Help us set the record straight!

  • The forest will NOT BURN DOWN from lack of commercial logging! Management options for the groves will reflect the same nurturing given the groves within the adjacent Sequoia National Park. The Park cuts trees only for the safety of the forest or the public, not for commercial profit. Park forests are much more fire resistant than the heavily logged USFS lands. Controlled burns, let-burn policies, any conservative, reasonable measures including minimal cutting could occur.

  • This is NOT A LAND GRAB!! The Monument designation would apply only to lands already owned by the public, already managed by the USFS. The proposal states: "Inholdings - monument status of surrounding land not to be used as reason for condemnation.

  • Residences on leased lands, organizational and church camps are not affected by the proposal. Indeed enjoyment of these lands would be enhanced by a healthier forest and more recreation opportunities. "Existing leases and special use permits - not affected by the designation, and monument status not to be used by any federal agency as a reason to terminate or refuse renewal."

  • Community and residential water supplies coming from the National Forest ,for communities within the Monument are pro­tected. Logging activities will no longer cause additional sediment to clog water systems. "Existing water and (if any) treaty rights -not affected."

  • The Forest and the Groves are NOT PROTECTED TODAY! No legislation protects the groves; their watersheds, or the forest that sustains them. The Burton, Hume, and Saddle timber sales are approved to log 500 feet away from the Big Trees. There are plans to log inside groves themselves for so-called fuels reduction despite the science that indicates that ecologically sound method of reducing fuels. The National Park has successfully used burn projects to reduce fire hazards for many years.

  • Nothing in the Monument proposal affects hunting and fishing. A healthy forest will produce thriving fisheries and abundant areas for deer foraging and fawning. Hunting and fishing would continue to be regulated by the California Dept. of Fish and Game.

  • The nation's taxpayers will save millions of dollars currently spent subsidizing the deficit logging program of Sequoia National Forest. These savings will more than offset any additional costs of a Monument.

  • Logging revenue to the counties from logging are already declining because of lack of competitive bidding, past over-logging and concerns for the survival of species that rely on unlogged forests; even without Monument status, the fixture of logging revenues is shaky. On the other hand, an increase in revenues from recre­ation related activities is almost certain as the public flocks to the nation's newest National Monument.

  • The proposed Giant Sequoia National Monument is people friendly! While stopping com­mercial logging within its bound­aries and calling for sound management of the forest, the proposal does not lock out people! Hiking, horses, camping, fishing, hunting, skiing, trail use and restoration, will be enhanced and there are provisions for off­road vehicle use on appropriate primitive forest roads.

 CONCLUSION

Few more deserving objects of national monument protection can be found than the ecosystem that supports the world's last stands of giant sequoias. Extra­ordinary it is, that more than half the remaining groves lack permanent protection.

Here locally, many folks may take our Sierran backyard forest for granted but this magnificent Sierran forest with its ancient red giants is a world class natural wonder. A recent poll shows that 90% of Californians support its protection. Citizens from around the world are rallying support for the creation of this National Monument.

Those who want to exploit the forest are furiously distorting the nature of the Monument proposal with all sorts of non­sense to encourage opposition. Get more information at the websites indicated below. You can contact the Sierra Club for more information. Future generations will thank us for our courage and foresight in supporting the creation of the Sequoia National Monument. So let's get on the Welcome Wagon for our nation's newest National Monument. It's about time.

As a local citizen, urge those below to support the creation of a strong, meaningful Giant Sequoia Monument.  

 President William Jefferson Clinton
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
fax (202) 456-6212
President@whitehouse.gov

Governor Gray Davis
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841 (fax) 916-445-4633
graydavis@governor.ca.gov 

Representative Calvin Dooley
California Office
530 Kings County Drive #102
Hanford, CA 93230
559- 585-8171 - 800- 464-4294

Senator Dianne Feinstein
United States Senate
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington D.C. 20510
senator@feinstein.senate.gov