March, 2002

Issue 4

STANDING TALL

Defending the Southern Sierra and the Giant Sequoia National Monument


Please: Your Letters Are Needed Now.

Giant Sequoia Cones

STANDING TALL
published by
the Sierra Club's
Sequoia Task Force
P.O. Box 3543
Visalia CA 93278

Alerts mailed as needed.

Dedicated to finishing Muir's dream to protect all of the magnificent Giant Sequoia forests in perpetuity and to ensuring that Sequoia National Forest fulfill its responsibility to nurture the forests in its care.

Edited by Carla Cloer

PLAN THREATENS MONUMENT

Sequoia Monument in Danger

When President Clinton created the Giant Sequoia National Monument in April of 2000, it was a major victory for all of those who love John Muir’s Sierra Nevada. But while we were celebrating the Clinton Proclamation, enemies of the Monument were at work.

The first attack was a lawsuit filed by Tulare County and the timber indsustry to rescind the Monument. This lawsuit was rejected by the court as unfounded.  Now, the Bush Administration is attacking the Clinton Monuments  administratively from within.  The initial Giant Sequoia National Monument Plan is being written and if Sequoia National Forest has its way, the management of the Monument will continue nearly as if the Proclamation had never happened ;  logging will continue, disguised as “protection of Monument resources.”

President Clinton’s Proclamation is the basic authority for management of the Monument.  He foresaw the Forest Service’s need to have help in writing a Monument Plan because the Forest Service is well versed in logging but not in ecosystem management.  The Proclamation requires a Science Advisory Board to guide the Forest Service in writing the initial Plan. The Forest Service has  twisted this mandate andhas limited these knowledgeable scientists to commenting on contrived “key questions.” In January, with little real input from the Science Board, the Forest Service unveiled ‘Working Draft Alternatives” for the Plan  These Alternatives are totally unacceptable.

Giant Sequoia in Freeman Creek Grove

In brief, Alternatives 1 and 2 would manage the Monument  almost as if the Proclamation had never occurred. They allow commercial logging over most of the Monument under the pretext of fire control.   The Forest Service’s Proposed Action is Alternative 2.   Alternatives 3, 4 and 5 also have varying reliance on logging, and inexplicably reduce recreation, remove campgrounds from groves, and disallow dispersed camping in groves. This anti-recreation is unprecedented in  National Monuments.  It would be more restrictive than  Sequoia National Park or  Wildernesses.

The Draft EIS and Draft Plan  are scheduled to be released in  May.  NOW, before that Draft is out, we need to tell the Forest Service they are on the wrong track.

Please write :     Tell the Forest Service to: 

  1. write a Plan that obeys the Proclamation;
  2. allow no tree removal or road construction except in extraordinary circumstances; 
  3. encourage recreation including better campgrounds, dispersed camping, and restored trails across the entire Monument; 
  4. enhance recreation for all historical uses including horseback riding:  
  5. write a comprehensive Plan , and do NOT rely on non-Monument plans; AND 
  6. implement the Sequoia Task Force Recommendations .

    Send letters to the Forest Service and to your Congresspersons.

    Art Gaffrey, Supervisor,             The Honorable__________

    Sequoia National Forest             U.S. Senate                                       

    900 West Grand Avenue             Washington DC 20510

    Porterville CA 93257                   202 224 3121

    <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>

    Bradley E. Powell,                         The Honorable __________

    USDA Forest Service                     U.S. House of Representatives

    Pacific Southwest Region            Washington DC 20515

    1323 Club Drive                             202 224 3121

    Vallejo, CA 94592

    <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>

    Dale Bosworth

    U. S. Department of Agriculture

    Sidney R. Yates Federal Building

    201 14th Street, SW at Independence Ave., SW

    Washington, DC 20250

    <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>

    On the Internet::

    Proclamation and Task Force Recommendations: <http://california.sierraclub.org/sequoia>;

    Science Advisory Board’s Advisories and USFS Alternatives: <http://www.r5.fs.fed.us/giant_sequoia/sab.html>

    To receive copies hard copies of the above and/or to get on Alert and Newsletter list, contact Carla Cloer, Sequoia Task Force, P.O. Box 3543, Visalia CA 93278, <carla.cloer@kernkaweah.sierraclub.org>


    The Myth: Logging to Prevent Fire

    Sequoia National forest plans to use commercial logging in pseudo-fire prevention projects for protection of Monument resources and private structures.

    But, Science does not support this excuse to log.

    What do the Forest Services' own fire experts say?

    Denny Truesdale, Assistant Director, USDA Forest Service, Fire Specialist, Washington, D.C., stated, "What is needed [to address the fuels loading problem] is to take care of the underbrush and dry twigs. The majority of the material that we need to take out is not commercial timber. It is up to 3 and 4 inches in diameter."

    Jack Cohen, research scientist at the Fire Sciences Laboratory in the Forest Service's Rocky Mountain Research Station, stated, “Home ignitability, rather than wildland fuels, is the principal cause of home losses during wildland/urban interface fires. Key items are flammable roofing materials and the presence of burnable vegetation immediately adjacent to homes. “ Intense flame fronts (e.g. crown fires) will not ignite wooden walls at distances greater than 40 meters (approx.130 feet).”

    Tom Atzet - Forest Ecologist for the Siskiyou National Forest notes, “ Ecosystems are driven by fire - fire is an important ecosystem process [to maintain] Don't exchange fire with mechanical thinning because... a host of other ecological factors are not replicated by mechanical thinning. It is not the same thing - "the number of natural processes that mechanical treatment equates to is zero."

    How does Sequoia National Park deal with fuels?

    the Park recently released a "Hazard Fuel Reduction for East Fork Kaweah Developed Areas." The objectives for this project "restoring fire to the surrounding ecosystem and providing for public and firefighter safety," are the same as those expounded by the Forest Service for the Monument lands. The Park described its project as, "200-foot wide reduced fuel zone created at strategic locations around two developments." They are not logging. They will hand pile and burn fuels on the project site. All larger trees and a number of smaller trees will remain on site, as will all dead and/or down logs greater than 8" in diameter. Re-treatment of the area every 3-15 years will be required to maintain effectiveness."

    The Park's Decision also said, "Fire behavior of most serious concern is ...a rapid flaming front of high intensity. Fire behavior models indicate that mostly smaller diameter surface and aerial fuels generate this fire behavior. Large diameter woody fuels in contact with the ground do not generally ignite readily or create rapid rates of fire spread. Large woody debris provides habitat for wildlife and without contributing a significant amount of risk of extreme fire behavior." "The 200 foot width was derived from sources including Fuelbreaks and Other Fuel Modification for Wildland Fire Control (USDA Forest ServiceHandbook No. 499). The 200 foot distance provides adequate clearance to reduce radiant heat impacts (and combustion) of structures, but also provides a survivable margin of safety for firefighters working in the defense zone between the flaming front and the structures at risk."

    How does Sequoia National Forest want to deal with fire and fuels in the Monument?

    The Forest Service's proposed action for the Monument is totally unacceptable. It would log what they call SPLAT's (Strategically Placed Area Treatment) on the upper two-thirds of all south and west slopes. This is in addition to thinning trees up to 11" in diameter in wide swathes around private property and roads. And, Sequoia National forest isn't waiting for a final Monument Plan before approving and implementing such projects.

    Recently, one such project was in the Tule District near Camp Nelson. It was not supposed to treat any trees or fuels over 11" in diameter. The mess resulting from having no guidelines and poor monitoring is evidenced in the photo. Another Tule District project will thin in this manner on over 20,000 acres. Project approval is slated for May.

    In our opinion, a sound, final Monument Plan should be in place before any non-emergency projects are approved. The Monument Plan should limit tree removal to small fuels under 8" in diameter only within 200' of structures. As recommended by science, prescribed fire should be the primary management tool across the rest of the forest. Clearly, all projects on any public lands should be carried out as specified in the Decisions that approve them. Sloppy implementation should not be tolerated.

     

    STUMPS GALORE

    Fuel Pile left by supposed fire reduction project

    Photo: The recent Fuels reduction project in the Tule District was supposed to leave any tree over 11" in diameter, dead or not, in place, but they didn't follow their own rules. Downed large logs pose little fire threat and are needed for soil stabilization and wildlife habitat. These projects must be redone every 3-15 years. Such 'treatment' is proposed forthousands of acres.


    Anti-Proclamation Projects

    The Proclamation specifically took all Monument lands out of commercial timber production and changed management objectives from logging to restoration and protection. But, Sequoia National Forest is continuing to treat its artificially created tree plantations as if they are someday going to market. They see only 'seedling survival and tree production" as their mandate.

     

    For example, use of strychnine in formerly logged areas continues. Tons of strychnine are used to "reduce gopher populations in plantations so seedlings can become established." Those seedlings are artificially planted and are often a different species than occurred naturally. Poisoning gophers harms the myriad of creatures (also protected by the Proclamation) that feed on gophers. Rodent populations have a vital role in forest recovery after damage. They aerate the soil and spread mycorhizae which assist root hairs in the uptake of nutrients. The public should not have to worry about deadly poison routinely used in their new Monument.

    Precommerical thinning continues in what are supposedly former plantations; this is not the same as restoration (removal of pine planted in former red fir stands or fuels reduction in flammable even-aged pine plantations). This is the old tree farm activity of thinning out "undesirable trees" (crooked, wrong species, too crowded trees) so the remaining evenly spaced trees can grow into a good tree crop. This isn't about ecosystems but about 'business as usual," forgetting that the Monument exists.

    The Science Advisory Board should have helped Sequoia National Forest form a strategy to deal with old logged areas. Direction should be included in the Monument Plan. Restoration of former tree farms must be allowed, whether by nature or by conservative restoration projects.

    Looking over Jordan Peak down the Tule River toward Springville

    Photo: Looking over Jordan Peak down the Tule River toward Springville

     

    The Plantation/Road Connection

    Some members of the public fear that our recommendation to have certain roads 'put to bed' will restrict access to the Monument. Most folks are unaware that there are over a thousand miles of roads in the Monument, and most of them are currently impassible by vehicles. In this aerial photo of the Tule River Drainage, the once contiguous forest is now a patchwork quilt of logged areas and struggling plantations. These plantations must be allowed to restore. There is more to the problem, however, because every one of the logged openings in this photo is connected by a deteriorating logging road which, in many cases, is pouring sediment into our streams.


    Road Survey

    Just last month, Sequoia National Forest sent out a Road Survey to get public input on Monument roads. This survey contained questions that could threaten the Monument. The Proclamation said "no new road construction," yet the survey asks people if they want more roads. The future of Monument roads should not be based on a popularity contest. Whether or not you received a survey, please send a letter to Sequoia National Forest saying:

    1. NO NEW ROADS IN THE MONUMENT

    2. Keep major Forest Roads to Trailheads, campgrounds, resorts and interpretive areas and maintain them.

    3. Survey all other existing roads: Roads that lead no-where and which are currently blocked to the public year-round or roads that are causing resource damage should be obliterated and renaturalized.

    Send your input to: Marianne Emmendorfer, Road Analysis Leader, Hume RangerStation, 35860 Kings Canyon Road, Dunlap, CA 93621


    Sierra Club Recommendations for the Monument

    The following is a summary; write or visit our website for the full text: <http://california.sierraclub.org/sequoia/plan/>

    1. Giant Sequoia National Monument is to be managed for the protection of all the ecological, geological and historical objects within the boundary, not just Sequoia groves.

    2. The management of the entire Monument should be partitioned into only two management zones: 1/ The Human Interface Zone focuses on developed and interpretive areas. Portions of some Sequoia groves are in this zone. This Zone could have mechanical treatment for fuels reduction within 200 feet of structures. 2/ The General Forest Zone focuses on the natural environment and restoration of ecosystem processes, variability, and functions. The majority of the Monument lands are in the General Forest Zone. The use of prescribed fire should be the primary restoration tool.

    3. There should be NO trees removed from the Monument without proof that there are no other alternatives for accomplishing specific restoration or safety goals.

    4. Service contracts, not timber sales, should be the primary way to implement any tree removal projects to ensure that the economics of logging does not drive management actions.

    5. The Monument Plan must be self sufficient. The Proclamation states that "the National Monument shall be the dominant reservation." Regardless of other Plans, such as the changeable Sierra Nevada Framework, the Proclamation is unchangeable and takes precedence.

    6. The groves should not be considered a separate management area. Prior to human intervention, the landscape evolved over thousands of years into a mosaic that can not be reflected by subdividing the forest into multiple zones for varying management schemes.

    7. Recreation: Historical non-mechanized recreational uses of the forest should be encouraged. These uses include: hiking, picnicking, camping, fishing, hunting, climbing, recreational stock use (horses, mules, donkeys, etc), nature study, photography, cross-country skiing, spiritual renewal, snow shoeing, caving, river rafting, and interpretive and disabled access trails. These uses may be dispersed across the General Forest Zone. Non-motorized mechanized (bicycle) recreation should be encouraged but limited to: 1/ trails specifically designated for their use, and 2/ roads. Motorized Vehicles including motorcycles and snowmobiles shall be encouraged but limited to forest roads designated for their use. In Winter, some forest roads should be designated exclusively for non-motorized winter recreation such as crosscountry skiing and snowshoeing. Other forest roads may be designated for snowmobiles. There should be an equitable allocation for motorized and non-mechanized winter recreation.

    8. The natural wilderness qualities and unroaded nature of roadless areas should be maintained.


    Advancing southward the giants become more and more irrepressibly exuberant, heaving their massive crowns into the sky from every ridge and slope. - John Muir

    Silver Creek Grove

     

    YES! I WANT TO HELP

     

    ___I have written a letter to the USFS and to my Congresspersons.

    ___Continue to send me "Standing Tall" and other Sequoia Alerts!

    ___Please send newsletters to the list of people I am sending you

    ___I am going to copy this newsletter and mail it to others.

    ___I want to plan a field trip/outing into Sequoia Monument.

    If you wish, you may make a tax-deductible contribution.

    Check payable to Sierra Club Foundation, Sequoia Campaign.

    Silver Creek Grove: Moses Roadless Area- Tule River
    Giant Sequoia National Monument

     

    Name: _________________________________________________

    Address: _______________________________________________

     

    Telephone/Fax ___________________________________________

    E-mail ________________________________________________

    City: _____________________ State: ____ Zip: _____________

    Please send to: Sierra Club-Sequoia Task Force, P.O. Box 3543, Visalia CA 93278

    For More Information:

    • Joe Fontaine - joe.fontaine@sierraclub.org

    • Carla Cloer carla.cloer@kernkaweah.sierraclub.org


    Sierra Club

    Sequoia Task Force

    P.O. Box 3543

    Visalia CA 93278

    http://california.sierraclub.org/sequoia/

     


    See Other Issues of Standing Tall
 


 

Copyright ©, Sierra Club - Sequoia Task Force, 2000-2002
Webmaster:
Harold Wood