Proclamation of the Giant Sequoia National Monument


April 15, 2000


                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary


           ESTABLISHMENT OF THE GIANT SEQUOIA NATIONAL MONUMENT

                                               - - - - - - -

             BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

                              A PROCLAMATION


     The rich and varied landscape of the Giant Sequoia National Monument
holds a diverse array of scientific and historic resources.  Magnificent
groves of towering giant sequoias, the world?s largest trees, are
interspersed within a great belt of coniferous forest, jeweled with
mountain meadows.  Bold granitic domes, spires, and plunging gorges texture
the landscape.  The area?s elevation climbs from about 2,500 to 9,700 feet
over a distance of only a few miles, capturing an extraordinary number of
habitats within a relatively small area.  This spectrum of ecosystems is
home to a diverse array of plants and animals, many of which are rare or
endemic to the southern Sierra Nevada.  The monument embraces limestone
caverns and holds unique pale-ontological resources documenting tens of
thousands of years of ecosystem change.  The monument also has many
archaeological sites recording Native American occupation and adaptations
to this complex landscape, and historic remnants of early Euro-american
settlement as well as the commercial exploitation of the giant sequoias.
The monument provides exemplary opportunities for biologists, geologists,
pale-ontologists, archaeologists, and historians to study these objects.

    Ancestral forms of giant sequoia were a part of the western North
American landscape for millions of years.  Giant sequoias are the largest
trees ever to have lived, and are among the world?s longest-lived trees,
reaching ages of more than 3,200 years or more.   Because of this great
longevity, giant sequoias hold within their tree rings multi-millennial
records of past environmental changes such as climate, fire regimes, and
conse-quent forest response.  Only one other North American tree species,
the high-elevation bristlecone pine of the desert mountain ranges east of
the Sierra Nevada, holds such lengthy and detailed chronologies of past
changes and events.

     Sequoias and their surrounding ecosystems provide a context for
understanding ongoing environmental changes.  For example, a century of
fire suppression has led to an unprecedented failure in sequoia
reproduction in otherwise undisturbed groves.  Climatic change also has
influenced the sequoia groves; their present highly disjunct distribution
is at least partly due to generally higher summertime temperatures and
prolonged summer droughts in California from about 10,000 to 4,500 years
ago.  During that period, sequoias were rarer than today.  Only following a
slight cooling and shortening of summer droughts, about 4,500 years ago,
has the sequoia been able to spread and create today?s groves.

     These giant sequoia groves and the surrounding forest provide an
excellent opportunity to understand the consequences of different
approaches to forest restoration.  These forests

                                   more

                                                        (OVER)
                                                        
                                                        
                                     2

need restoration to counteract the effects of a century of fire suppression
and logging.  Fire suppression has caused forests to become denser in many
areas, with increased dominance of shade-tolerant species.  Woody debris
has accumulated, causing an unprecedented buildup of surface fuels.  One of
the most immediate consequences of these changes is an increased hazard of
wildfires of a severity that was rarely encountered in pre-Euroamerican
times.  Outstanding opportunities exist for studying the consequences of
different approaches to mitigating these conditions and restoring natural
forest resilience.

    The great elevational range of the monument embraces a number of
climatic zones, providing habitats for an extraordinary diversity of plant
species and communities.  The monument is rich in rare plants and is home
to more than 200 plant species endemic to the southern Sierra Nevada
mountain range, arrayed in plant communities ranging from low-elevation oak
woodlands and chaparral to high-elevation subalpine forest.  Numerous
meadows and streams provide an interconnected web of habitats for
moisture-loving species.

     This spectrum of interconnected vegetation types provides essential
habitat for wildlife, ranging from large, charismatic animals to less
visible and less familiar forms of life, such as fungi and insects.  The
mid-elevation forests are dominated by massive conifers arrayed in a
complex landscape mosaic, providing one of the last refugia for the Pacific
fisher in California.  The fisher appears to have been extirpated from the
northern Sierra Nevada mountain range.  The forests of the monument are
also home to great gray owl, American marten, northern goshawk, peregrine
falcon, spotted owl, and a number of rare amphibians.  The giant sequoias
themselves are the only known trees large enough to provide nesting
cavities for the California condor, which otherwise must nest on cliff
faces.  In fact, the last pair of condors breeding in the wild was
discovered in a giant sequoia that is part of the new monument.  The
monument?s giant sequoia ecosystem remains available for the return and
study of condors.

     The physiography and geology of the monument have been shaped by
millions of years of intensive uplift, erosion, volcanism, and glaciation.
The monument is dominated by granitic rocks, most noticeable as domes and
spires in areas such as the Needles.  The magnificent Kern Canyon forms the
eastern boundary of the monument?s southern unit.  The canyon follows an
ancient fault, forming the only major north-south river drainage in the
Sierra Nevada.  Remnants of volcanism are expressed as hot springs and soda
springs in some drainages.

     Particularly in the northern unit of the monument, limestone outcrops,
remnants of an ancient seabed, are noted for their caves.  Subfossil
vegetation entombed within ancient woodrat middens in these caves has
provided the only direct evidence of where giant sequoias grew during the
Pleistocene Era, and documents substantial vegetation changes over the last
50,000 or more years.  Vertebrate fossils also have been found within the
middens.  Other paleontological resources are found in meadow
sediments, which hold detailed records of the last 10 millennia of changing
vegetation, fire regimes, and volcanism in the Sierra Nevada.  The
multi-millennial, annual- and seasonal-resolution records of past fire
regimes held in giant sequoia tree-rings are unique worldwide.

     During the past 8,000 years, Native American peoples of the Sierra
Nevada have lived by hunting and fishing, gathering, and trading with other
people throughout the region.  Archaeological sites such as lithic
scatters, food-processing sites, rock shelters, village sites, petroglyphs,
and pictographs are found

                                   more
                                   
                                   
                                     3

in the monument.  These sites have the potential to shed light on the roles
of prehistoric peoples, including the role they played in shaping the
ecosystems on which they depended.

     One of the earliest recorded references to giant sequoias is found in
the notes of the Walker Expedition of 1833, which described "trees of the
redwood species, incredibly large...."  The world became aware of giant
sequoias when sections of the massive trees were transported east and
displayed as curiosities for eastern audiences.  Logging of giant sequoias
throughout the Sierra Nevada mountain range began in 1856.  Logging has
continued intermit-tently to this day on nonfederal lands within the area
of the monument.  Early entrepreneurs, seeing profit in the gigantic trees,
began acquiring lands within the present monument under the Timber and
Stone Act in the 1880s.  Today our understanding of the history of the Hume
Lake and Converse Basin areas of the monument is supported by a treasure
trove of historical photo-graphs and other documentation.  These records
provide a unique and unusually clear picture of more than half a century of
logging that resulted in the virtual removal of most forest in some areas
of the monument.  Outstanding opportunities exist for studying forest
resilience to large-scale logging and the consequences of different
approaches to forest restoration.

     Section 2 of the Act of June 8, 1906 (34 Stat. 225, 16 U.S.C. 431)
authorizes the President, in his discretion, to declare by public
proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and
other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon
lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be
national monuments, and to reserve as a part thereof parcels of land, the
limits of which in all cases, shall be confined to the smallest area
compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be
protected.

     WHEREAS it appears that it would be in the public interest to reserve
such lands as a national monument to be known as the Giant Sequoia National
Monument:

     NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States
of America, by the authority vested in me by section 2 of the Act of June
8, 1906 (34 Stat. 225, 16 U.S.C. 431), do proclaim that there are hereby
set apart and reserved as the Giant Sequoia National Monument, for the
purpose of protecting the objects identified in the above preceding
para-graphs, all lands and interests in lands owned or controlled by the
United States within the boundaries of the area described on the map
entitled "Proposed Giant Sequoia National Monument" attached to and forming
a part of this proclamation.  The Federal land and interests in land
reserved consist of approximately 327,769 acres, which is the smallest area
compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be
protected as identified in the above preceding paragraphs.

     All Federal lands and interests in lands within the boundaries of this
monument are hereby appropriated and withdrawn from entry, location,
selection, sale, leasing, or other disposition under the public land laws
including, but not limited to, withdrawal from locating, entry, and patent
under the mining laws and from disposition under all laws relating to
mineral and geothermal leasing, other than by exchange that furthers the
protective purposes of the monument.  Lands and interests in lands within
the boundaries of the monument not owned by the United States shall be
reserved as a part of the  monument upon acquisition of title thereto by
the United States.

                                   more

                                                        (OVER)
                                                        
                                                        
                                     4

     The establishment of this monument is subject to valid existing
rights.

     Timber sales under contract as of the date of the proclamation and
timber sales with a decision notice signed after January 1, 1999, but prior
to December 31, 1999, may be completed consistent with the terms of the
decision notice and contract.  No portion of the monument shall be
considered to be suited for timber production, and no part of the monument
shall be used in a calculation or provision of a sustained yield of timber
from the Sequoia National Forest.  Removal of trees, except for personal
use fuel wood, from within the monument area may take place only if clearly
needed for ecological restoration and maintenance or public safety.

     The Secretary of Agriculture shall manage the monument, along with the
underlying Forest, through the Forest Service, pursuant to applicable legal
authorities, to implement the purposes and provisions of this proclamation.
The Secretary of Agriculture shall prepare, within 3 years of this date, a
management plan for this monument, and shall promulgate such regulations
for its management as deemed appropriate.  The plan will provide for and
encourage continued public and recreational access and use consistent with
the purposes of the monument.

     Unique scientific and ecological issues are involved in management of
giant sequoia groves, including groves located in nearby and adjacent lands
managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service.
The Secretary, in consultation with the National Academy of Sciences, shall
appoint a Scientific Advisory Board to provide scientific guidance during
the development of the initial management plan.  Board membership shall
represent a range of scientific disciplines pertaining to the objects to be
protected, including, but not necessarily limited to, the physical,
biological, and social sciences.

     The Secretary, through the Forest Service, shall, in developing any
management plans and any management rules and regulations governing the
monument, consult with the Secretary
of the Interior, through the Bureau of Land Management and the National
Park Service.  The final decision to issue any management plans and any
management rules and regulations rests with the Secretary of Agriculture.
Management plans or rules and regulations developed by the Secretary of the
Interior governing uses within national parks or other national monuments
administered by the Secretary of the Interior shall not apply within the
Giant Sequoia National Monument.

     The management plan shall contain a transportation plan for the
monument that provides for visitor enjoyment and understanding about the
scientific and historic objects in the monument, consistent with their
protection.  For the purposes of protecting the objects included in the
monument, motorized vehicle use will be permitted only on designated roads,
and non-motorized mechanized vehicle use will be permitted only on
designated roads and trails, except for emergency or authorized
administrative purposes or to provide access for persons with disabilities.
No new roads or trails will be authorized within the monument except to
further the purposes of the monument.  Prior to the issuance of the
management plan, existing roads and trails may be closed or altered to
protect the objects of interest in the monument, and motorized vehicle use
will be permitted on trails until but not after December 31, 2000.

     Nothing in this proclamation shall be deemed to diminish or enlarge
the jurisdiction of the State of California with respect to fish and
wildlife management.

                                   more
                                   
                                   
                                     5

     There is hereby reserved, as of the date of this proclamation and
subject to valid existing rights, a quantity of water sufficient to fulfill
the purposes for which this monument is established.  Nothing in this
reservation shall be construed as a relinquishment or reduction of any
water use or rights reserved or appropriated by the United States on or
before the date of this proclamation.

     Laws, regulations, and policies pertaining to administration by the
Department of Agriculture of grazing permits and timber sales under
contract as of the date of this proclamation on National Forest System
lands within the boundaries of the monument shall continue to apply to
lands within the monument.

     Nothing in this proclamation shall be deemed to affect existing
special use authorizations; existing uses shall be governed by applicable
laws, regulations, and management plans.

     Nothing in this proclamation shall be deemed to revoke any existing
withdrawal, reservation, or appropriation; however, the national monument
shall be the dominant reservation.

     Warning is hereby given to all unauthorized persons not to
appropriate, injure, destroy, or remove any feature of this  monument and
not to locate or settle upon any of the lands thereof.

     IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this       fifteenth
day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand, and of the Independence
of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-fourth.



                                   WILLIAM J. CLINTON


                                  #  #  #


 

E-mail a Friend about this page e-mail a friend about this page