B. Giant Sequoia Groves

1. Background: The Parties to this Agreement state:

 

a. The Giant Sequoia Groves in Sequoia National Forest ("Groves") are a unique national treasure that shall be preserved.

 

b. The goal for the administration of the Groves shall be to protect, preserve, and restore the Groves for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.

 

c. The Converse Basin area has been subject of significant timber harvest since the late 1800s. With the exception of designated areas to be preserved, this area of the Forest will continue to be available for commercial logging.

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2. Implementation:

 

a. Interim Protection

 

(1) Until a final Grove boundary for each Grove is determined in accordance with this Agreement, that Grove, based on the most recent data for the location of giant sequoias, shall be protected, including an interim 500 foot buffer extending from a hypothetical perimeter line around the outermost known giant sequoias in the Grove. This will be.a no logging, restricted mechanical entry area. For purposes of this Agreement, the following mechanical/motorized uses only will be permitted inside an interim or final Grove boundary line:

 

(a) expansion of the parking lot at the Trail of the 100 Giants;

 

(b) use of existing roads;

 

(c) existing use of OHVs on: i) trail #31E56 inside Deer Creek Grove, ii) trail #31E30 from Belknap to Cedar Slope inside McIntyre Grove, and iii) any established trails identified by the Forest Service as existing on the date of this Agreement, with written notice to all parties, provided however, that

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OHV use is subject to final determinations made by the Trail Management Plan;

 

(d) Management in accordance with approved fuel load reduction plans;

 

(e) use of light equipment to build and/or maintain trails; and

 

(f) use of equipment to fight wildfires (use of heavy equipment off of existing roads will require Forest Supervisor approval)

 

(g) use of battery operated wheelchairs.

 

New mechanical/motorized uses shall not be automatically precluded within Grove Influence Zones.

 

(2) An additional zone of 500 feet, called the Grove Influence Zone, shall be protected from logging activities inconsistent with Section B.2.d.(1). of this Agreement prior to the identification of final administrative Grove Influence Zone boundaries.

 

(3) Notwithstanding subsection (2) above, where no Decision Notice

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has been executed as of the date of this Agreement for a timber sale within the Grove Influence Zone, no logging plans will be approved by the Forest Supervisor within 1000 feet of the hypothetical perimeter line of the Rundel-identified grove until the Forest Supervisor has determined the Grove and Grove Influence Zone boundaries in accordance with this Agreement.

 

b. Grove Management

 

(1) Within this Plan period it is desirable that the Sequoia National Forest shall inventory all giant sequoias (3 feet or larger dbh) in each Grove by size and approximate location in order to provide a suitable data base for future protection of the sequoias; the Sequoia National Forest shall request no less than $40,000 per year in its annual budget request starting FY1992 and extending through the end of the Plan period for giant sequoia inventory purposes, or until the inventory is completed. Priority for inventory of Giant Sequoia Groves will be pursuant to subparagraph (2), below.

 

(2) Within this Plan period, the Sequoia National Forest shall begin to inventory and evaluate each Grove for its fuel load build-up. Based on this inventory and evaluation, Groves, or parts of Groves, with risks of catastrophic fire and/or exclusion of new giant sequoia

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regeneration because of unnatural fuel load build-up will be identified and prioritized for fuel load reduction treatment. Pursuant to this prioritization, the Forest Service shall begin addressing the Grove fuel load build-up problems during this plan period, with public participation and planning in accordance with NEPA.

 

(3) Except as set forth in section II.B.2.a.(1), there shall be no new road-building, logging or mechanical/motorized entry (except for entry on existing roads) within the final administrative boundary of any Grove during the period of time in which the Sequoia National Forest activities are covered by the 1988 Land and Resource Management Plan. For purposes of this Agreement, prohibited logging shall mean any logging activity except logging conducted for the limited and specific purpose of reducing the fuel load in the Groves pursuant to a Grove specific fuel load reduction plan and Grove specific EIS. The only salvage logging permitted in the Groves will be that logging permitted and described in the previous sentence. It is agreed that the methods to be used to remove specific trees from the Groves, as part of an adopted fuel reduction plan, shall be the most environmentally sensitive available. The objective of fuel load reduction plans shall be to

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preserve, protect, restore and regenerate the Giant Sequoia Groves, without unnecessary damage to any old-growth trees in the Grove. Any logging component of a fuel reduction program in a grove shall protect the old-growth pine, fir, incense cedar and black oak components of the stand. Any tree identified for removal under this paragraph shall be so identified in the field in consultation with a forester from either the Save-the-Redwoods League ("League") or the Sierra Club ("Club").

 

C. Grove and Grove Influence Zone Boundary Identification Procedures

 

(1) The Sierra Club, the Save-the-Redwoods League, the timber industry ("Industry') and the Forest Service shall each designate one representative to serve on the Grove Boundary Team. The Team shall begin to identify final administrative Grove and Grove Influence Zone boundaries prior to September 15, 1990. The Team shall follow the standards and guidelines outlined in subparagraph 2 below in determining final administrative Grove and Grove Influence Zone boundary lines. The Team shall recommend final administrative Grove and Grove Influence Zone boundaries to the Forest Supervisor by December 31, 1991, subject to paragraph II.B.2.c.(4). Copies of the recommendations shall be sent to all parties, who shall have 45 days from mailing to submit

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comments for the Forest Supervisor's consideration.

 

(2) Standards and Guidelines for Grove and Grove Influence Zone Boundary Identification:

 

(a) There will be two zones created adjacent to and external to the hypothetical perimeter line of the outermost known giant sequoia trees in each Grove. The first zone will be included within the final administrative Grove boundary. The second zone shall be called a Grove Influence Zone.

 

(b) Though Grove identification is a matter of interpretation, and some adjacent Groves shall be managed as if they were a single large Grove (as later described in this Agreement), the Rundel Grove identifications in the Forest Plan are used in this Agreement by name as the basis for Grove and Grove Influence Zone boundary identification.

 

(c) Sequoia Grove boundaries have not yet been precisely defined. Giant sequoias naturally occur in "scattered" locations outside of, or on the periphery of, aggregations of giant sequoias consensually recognized as sequoia "Groves."

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(d) The final administrative Grove boundaries shall be identified to include both (i) the area within a hypothetical perimeter line around the outermost giant sequoia trees in the Grove, and (ii) a buffer area (which may differ in size for different groves, as later described) beyond the hypothetical perimeter line which shall be included in the final administrative boundary of a Grove.

 

(e) In determining the hypothetical perimeter line around the outermost giant sequoia trees in a Grove (which becomes the basis for identifying the interim protection zone and the administrative boundaries of the Grove and Grove Influence Zone), the following guidelines shall apply:

 

i) Any naturally occurring giant sequoia (1 foot or larger dbh) which is located within 500 feet of at least 3 other giant sequoias (each 1 foot or larger dbh), shall always be included within the hypothetical perimeter line; provided, however, that the Grove Boundary Team may reasonably adjust the perimeter line for a specific Grove so long as there is a rational basis for the adjustment (such as topographic features) and all participating team members

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agree to the adjustment.

ii) Notwithstanding subsection (i) above, all giant sequoias consensually recognized as being included in a Grove identified in the Rundel Grove list used in the Forest Plan shall always be included within the hypothetical perimeter line. In other words, the guidelines for identifying the hypothetical perimeter line shall not be used to fragment the existing groves as identified by Rundel.

iii) Where, as described later in this Agreement, several adjacent Groves are to be managed as if they were one large Grove, the hypothetical perimeter line, as defined, shall be a single line around the outermost giant sequoia trees in the complex of Groves, taken as a whole.

 

(f) Boundaries shall also be identified for Grove Influence Zones (which may differ in size for different Groves, as later described), which shall be contiguous to each Grove. (See Section B.2.d. regarding management of Grove Influence Zones.)

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(g) The parties agree that the Grove and Grove Influence Zone boundary guidelines are minimum protection criteria. The parties also agree that management protection such as SOHAs, roadless area management, condor nesting sites, etc., may provide for protection of areas adjacent to Giant Sequoia Groves which exceed the minimum protection described below.

 

(h) Further, the parties also agree that the types of management protection such as those set forth in (g) above may also minimize or eliminate issues concerning precise Grove and Grove Influence Zone administrative boundaries for many Groves, as well the presence of adjacent National Park, State, Indian, or private lands.

 

(i) Topographical features such as ridges may take precedence over field distance measurements in finalizing boundaries of a Grove and/or Grove Influence Zone where such features logically and physically separate giant sequoias from the general forest. However, man-made impacts such as existing roads shall not diminish the size of the Grove and/or Grove Influence Zones, unless agreed upon pursuant to subsection

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(k) of this section.

 

(j) Specific Grove, Grove Influence Zone, and Isolated Sequoia Tree Standards and Guidelines

i) Black Mountain Grove: (a) The narrow corridor of general forest between the Black Mountain Roadless Area and the Black Mountain Grove in Sections 1 and 12 will be a no logging, restricted mechanical entry area. The extension of road 21S12, beyond its intersection with road 21S25 in Section 1, shall be closed to the public. (b) The balance of the Black Mountain Grove shall receive a 500 foot no logging, restricted mechanical entry zone outside of the hypothetical perimeter line around the outermost giant sequoias in the Grove within its final Grove boundary line and an added 500 foot Grove Influence Zone.

ii) Belknap/McIntyre/Wheel Meadow Grove Complex:
This will be treated as one large Grove in drawing the hypothetical perimeter line of outermost giant sequoias in the Grove. The Grove Boundary Team may consider a no logging, restricted mechanical entry zone that would extend north and east to Highway 190. The other boundaries of the

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Grove shall include a 500 foot no logging , restricted mechanical entry zone outside of the hypothetical perimeter line of outermost giant sequoias of the Grove within the final Grove Boundary line and an added 500 foot Grove Influence Zone.

iii) The Greater Evans Grove Complex: The following Groves shall be integrated into this complex and managed as one large Grove in drawing the hypothetical perimeter line of outermost giant sequoias in the Grove: Lockwood Grove, Evans Grove, Kennedy Grove, Burton Grove, Little Boulder Grove, and Boulder Grove. There shall be a 500 foot no logging, no mechanical entry zone outside of the hypothetical perimeter line of the outermost giant sequoias in the Grove within the final Grove boundary line and an added 500 foot Grove Influence Zone.

iv) Freeman Creek Grove and Watershed: (a) There shall be no logging and no motorized vehicle use by the public anywhere in the Freeman Creek Grove Management Area as shown on the map, Exhibit E. The Sequoia National Forest shall manage this Area as a Botanic Area.

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(b) All land areas outside of the Botanic Area but within the Freeman Creek watershed, west of Lloyd Meadow Road, as designated on the map, Exhibit F, shall be managed by the Regulation Class II, single tree or small group selection uneven-aged management prescription. There shall be no green timber sales scheduled in the watershed west of the Botanic Area in this planning period. Existing plantations may be managed; provided, however, that no management prescription outside and upslope of Giant Sequoias shall adversely impact the hydrology of the Sequoias. (c) The Freeman Creek Trail from North Road to the Lloyd Meadow Road shall be designated as Sensitivity Level One.

v) Indian Basin Grove: (a) There will be no logging except for safety reasons in and near the Princess Campground area south and east of Highway 180, and (b) a 500 foot no logging, restricted mechanical entry zone outside of the hypothetical perimeter line of the outermost giant sequoias in the Grove within the Grove boundary plus an added 500 foot Grove Influence Zone.

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vi) The following Groves shall receive a 500 foot no logging, restricted mechanical entry zone outside of the hypothetical perimeter line of the outermost giant sequoias in the Grove within the Grove boundary line plus an added 500 foot Grove Influence Zone: Bearskin Grove, Big Stump Grove, Deer Creek Grove, Grant Grove, Landslide Grove, Long Meadow Grove, Packsaddle Grove, Peyrone Grove, Red Hill Grove, Redwood Mountain Grove, Starvation Creek Grove and Tenmile Grove.

vii) The following Groves shall receive a 300 foot no logging, restricted mechanical entry zone outside of the hypothetical perimeter line of the outermost giant sequoias in the Grove within the Grove boundary line plus an added 300 foot Grove Influence Zone: Powderhorn Grove, Alder Creek Grove, Abbott Creek Grove, Cherry Gap Grove, Mountain Home Grove and Cunningham Grove.

viii) The six hundred (600) acres of Converse Basin Grove recommended for preservation (see section B.2.e.(2) below) shall receive a 500 foot no logging, restricted mechanical entry zone outside of the preservation area.

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ix) The following Groves, and their adjacent areas, are protected because of other designations and do not require precise boundary determinations for Sequoia Grove protection purposes: Agnew Grove (Wilderness Area), Burro Creek Grove (to be proposed as Wilderness), Deer Meadow Grove (protected portion of Agnew Roadless Area), Dillonwood Grove (to be proposed as Wilderness), Maggie Mountain Grove (Wilderness), Middle Tule Grove (part Wilderness and part to be proposed as Wilderness), and Silver Creek Grove (to be proposed as Wilderness).

x) Naturally occurring isolated giant sequoia trees (3 feet or larger dbh) located inside or outside of the Grove Influence Zones shall be protected by a restricted mechanical entry within an area equal to at least 2/3 the height of the tree, provided; however, that only single tree selection logging is permitted in this area, so long as the giant sequoia tree is protected from unnecessary logging damage.

xi) Naturally occurring giant sequoia trees (under 3 feet

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dbh) located inside of the Grove Influence Zone shall be protected from all logging operations, including specifically protecting the root system. Every reasonable effort shall be made to protect naturally occurring giant sequoia trees (under 3 feet dbh) located outside of the Grove Influence Zone from road construction, cable logging, and other logging activities. No additional buffer will be required for these trees, though the Forest Service shall make an effort to preserve them within wildlife clumps, within other small areas not logged under the regeneration mosaic silvicultural prescription, or within areas reserved to meet the sera] stage diversity requirements.

xii) Any detached naturally occurring group (10 or more giant sequoia trees with at least 4 trees with a 3 foot or larger dbh) located outside the Grove Influence Zone, and not identified by Rundel as included in an existing Grove, shall be given the designation of "Grove" and given a 300 foot no logging, restricted mechanical entry zone within the Grove boundary and a 300 foot Grove Influence Zone; provided, however, that the Grove Boundary Team agrees with this designation. If the Grove Boundary Team cannot

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agree, the unresolved issue shall be submitted to the Expert Panel for its determination and recommendation to the Forest Supervisor.

xii) If previously unknown Giant Sequoia trees of any size and number outside of the interim buffer or final Grove boundary are discovered, the applicable Grove boundary and/or Grove Influence Zone shall be modified in accordance with the guidelines set forth in this section.

 

(k) The Grove Boundary Team may reasonably adjust final boundaries of Groves and/or Grove Influence Zones, subject to final approval by the Forest Supervisor, either to expand or contract these zones, for a specific Grove, so long as there is a rational basis for the adjustment (such as topographic features) and all participating team members agree to the adjustment.

 

(l) With the exception of Converse Basin, these Grove and Grove Influence Zone boundary line standards and guidelines are solely for the purpose of protecting the Groves and the adjacent areas, and are not intended as a

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"release" or a management prescription for other areas of the Forest, which shall be managed or protected as otherwise provided in the forest plan and in this Agreement.

 

(3) If any logging is planned to occur within 1,000 feet of any interim or final Grove Boundary, a special written notice shall be sent to the appellants. This notice shall include a topographical map which specifically (1) locates the boundary of the proposed cutting unit, (2) locates the.Forest Service interim or final Grove Boundary, (3) predicts the distance between the two, and (4) specifies a date and time, no sooner than 30 days, unless otherwise agreed upon, for the interested parties to accompany the Forest Service into the field to review the plan on the ground with the objective to resolve differences prior to the preparation of an EA or EIS.

 

(4) If Grove Boundary Team members fail to reach unanimous agreement on permanent Grove and Grove Influence Zone boundaries for all Groves prior to December 31, 1991, or within a reasonable time thereafter, if a specific extended time period is agreed upon in writing by all team members, an Expert Panel of three people shall be formed. The Sierra Club and

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Save-the-Redwoods League shall appoint one member, the Forest Service shall appoint one member (acceptable to the timber industry), and the two appointees shall choose a third Panel member. All should have a background in giant sequoia protection. The Panel will address itself to each Grove as to which the Team failed to reach agreement. The Panel will review the maps, the differing opinions of the Team Members, and will go into the field to review the matter on the ground. The Panel Will make a formal, public written recommendation to the Forest Supervisor for the boundary line of each disputed Grove. The Forest Supervisor shall, upon receiving the final recommendations of the Grove Boundary Team and the Expert Panel (if one is convened), issue a Plan amendment establishing the boundaries of Groves and Grove Influence Zones.

 

(5) Except as otherwise provided in this agreement (see section B.2.e.(2) below, re: Converse Basin), each Grove, with final administrative Grove boundaries determined as described herein, shall remain outside the suitable land base.

 

d. Complementary Management in Grove Influence Zones and Outside of Groves

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(1) Within the Grove Influence Zone, only Regulation Class II, single tree, small group uneven-aged management silvicultural prescriptions will be permitted both before and after final administrative Grove Influence Zone boundaries are identified; provided, however, that if a more protective management designation also applies to the area, or portions of the area (such as streamside management zones, SOHAs, etc.), the more protective designation shall govern what, if any, logging activity is allowed in the Grove Influence Zone.

 

(2) In all situations where logging or road construction is planned outside of, but upslope of a Grove, a special written notice shall be sent to all appellants during initial development of project alternatives. This notice shall explain fully the action proposed and shall include a topographical map which specifically (1) locates the proposed cutting unit or road to be built, (2) locates the Grove boundary, (3) predicts the distance between the two, and (4) specifies a date and time, no sooner than 30 days, unless otherwise agreed upon, for the interested parties to accompany the Forest Service into the field to review the plan on the ground with the objective to resolve differences prior to the preparation of an EA or EIS. The Decision document for any such activity shall include a

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specific finding that the Grove will not be harmed.

 

(3) The Sequoia National Forest shall consider Regulation Class 2 helicopter single tree removal for logging operations outside and upslope of, and in close proximity to, a Grove.

 

e. Special Area Designations

 

(1) The Sequoia National Forest shall manage the Freeman Creek Grove Management. Area as a Botanic Area. (See further discussion in section B.2.c.(2)(j)(iv) above).

 

(2) The Sequoia National Forest shall amend the Plan to provide for management of the Converse Basin Grove under Regulation Class II small group or single tree selection and shelterwood silvicultural prescriptions; provided, however, that the regeneration mosaic prescription may be used, if appropriate, in certain limited circumstances (i.e. areas logged since circa 1950). No other clearcutting will be permitted in the Converse Basin Grove. Such management activity in the Converse Basin Grove must be pursuant to a plan and EIS that shall, among other things, (a) allocate the 600 acres previously recommended by the Forest Service for preservation to preservation management with a buffer,

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and (b) allocate 10% of the remaining (approximately) 2400 acres (240 acres) in the Grove for preservation and regeneration of Giant Sequoias to replace trees cut at the turn of the century. This 10% should be chosen in areas where there has been significant regrowth of the giant sequoia (i.e. areas where 70-100 year old giant sequoias are abundant), and no designated preservation units shall be less than 40 acres. All giant sequoias 3 feet or larger dbh in Converse Basin shall be preserved, regardless of any other permitted logging activity. Small giant sequoias may be cut along with other species.

 

f. Regeneration of Cut-Over Giant Sequoia Groves

 

(1) The objectives of regenerating cutover Giant Sequoia Groves Will be to restore these areas, as nearly as possible, to the former natural forest condition.

 

(2) The Forest shall implement the regeneration plan required by the Stipulation for Entry of Judgment dated 12/27/89, in. Sierra Club-v. U.S. Forest Service Case No.CVF-87-263 EDP.

 

g. This Agreement and the standards and guidelines which it contains shall be interpreted liberally, in the event of ambiguity, in order to

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implement the purpose of protection of the Giant Sequoia Groves and Grove Influence Zones.

 

h. Research projects may be permitted if consistent with this Agreement. Research projects are subject to NEPA.

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