Sierra Club
Sierra Club Press Release

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September 4, 2012

Contact: Sarah Matsumoto, 415-977-5579

Virginia Cramer, 804-225-9113 x102

Forest Service Releases Plan for Giant Sequoia National Monument

New Measures for Conservation 

SACRAMENTO, CA: Today, the U.S. Forest Service released a plan that will guide the future of the Giant Sequoia National Monument and the iconic Giant Sequoia groves within for decades. The plan includes some improvements such as a recommendation for the creation of a Moses Wilderness Area. It also prioritizes natural processes, such as prescribed fire, over logging as a tool for forest management and includes a much-needed protocol for when trees may be removed for ecological and safety reasons. However, the plan appears to fall short of the standards set by the presidential proclamation for the Monument for restoring the Giant Sequoia groves from decades of logging and fire suppression and fails to meet the high standard for ecological restoration used in the adjacent Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

 “Giant Sequoia National Monument is a national treasure and it deserves to be managed like one. We made a promise as a country to protect and restore these magnificent Giant Sequoia trees and the incredible forests, mountains, watersheds and wildlife habitat in the monument,” said Frances Hunt, director of the Sierra Club's national Resilient Habitats campaign. “Though we’re still reviewing the plan, and more improvements are needed before these lands are truly protected, it seems we are now one step closer to making that promise a reality.”

In 2000, President Clinton created the Giant Sequoia National Monument to protect half of California’s Sequoia groves from intensive industrial logging and fire suppression.  Since its creation, the monument has become a major economic driver in the region, drawing new residents, tourists, and businesses to surrounding communities.

“Unfortunately despite the reason for its creation, over 100 years of logging and the exclusion of natural processes such as managed fire have damaged this national treasure. The Giant Sequoia forest needs to be restored so future generations can enjoy this incredible area,” said Joe Fontaine, volunteer chair of the Sierra Club’s Sierra Nevada Resilient Habitats campaign.

Found only in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California, Giant Sequoias are some of the largest and oldest living things on Earth. Some of these majestic trees date back 3,500 years, almost as old as Egypt’s pyramids. The largest of the trees are nearly as tall as the Statue of Liberty or an average 26-story building. Giant Sequoia trees draw tourists from across the country and have become emblematic of America’s great outdoors.

“The best way to preserve these trees is to use natural processes, including fire, as they do next door in the national park,” said Carla Cloer, chair of the Sierra Club’s Sequoia Task Force. “But the plan continues to envision too much logging, including the removal of trees from the monument.  Chainsaws should be a last resort in national monuments.”

Over 350,000 Sierra Club members and supporters submitted comments to the Forest Service supporting strong protections for the Giant Sequoia National Monument. Among the comments were requests for the forests in the Monument to be managed like those in Sequoia National Park where prescribed fire, not logging, has been used for over 40 years as the primary tool to create ecologically healthy conditions in exactly the same ecosystems found in the Monument.

“We’ll be reviewing the plan in detail to ensure that it does what is necessary to fully protect the Monument and the forests that support these giant sequoias,” said Kristin Henry of the Sierra Club’s Environmental Law Program.

The Sierra Club has worked to protect Giant Sequoia groves for over a century, beginning with one of the organizations founders, John Muir. Founded in 1892, the Sierra Club is the largest grassroots environmental organization in the country.

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