Giant Sequoia National Monument
A Citizen's Guide
by Sierra Club Sequoia Task Force
The fight to protect the giant sequoias of California’s Sierra Nevada
range began in the late 1800s, when Sierra Club founder John Muir sought
and won the establishment of Sequoia National Park. Over one hundred years
later, President Clinton established the Giant Sequoia National Monument
to protect nearly half the giant sequoias left in existence. Yet these groves
of towering trees are still threatened. The Sierra Club has listed the Giant
Sequoia National Monument as one of the 52 most important places to protect
in the next 10 years.
Thousands of hikers, campers, horseback riders, anglers, hunters, and skiers
visit the Giant Sequoia National Monument each year. These magnificent forests
provide essential habitat for the California spotted owl, Pacific fisher,
and myriad other plants and animals. But the Forest Service has called for
extensive logging of this natural cathedral, under the guise of fire protection.
The Forest Service’s own scientists have found that logging large,
fire-resistant trees like those in the Monument does little to prevent catastrophic
wildfire. Prescribed fires and careful thinning of small trees and underbrush-
especially near communities-have proven to be much more effective at preventing
Sequoia National Park, adjacent to the Monument, already provides a good
example of how the forest should be managed. The Park is successfully restoring
its giant sequoia ecosystem through the careful use of prescribed fire and
a conservative small-tree thinning. Over several decades, the Park Service
has made considerable progress in restoring a natural fire cycle to the
forest without logging. That same careful stewardship should be applied
inside the Monument. That’s why the Sierra Club is calling for the
transfer of the Monument’s management to the National Park Service.
Conservation Groups Point to Neighboring National Park for Better Way to
Manage National Treasure
Release: January 27, 2005
The Sierra Club is leading five other conservation
organizations to challenge the Bush administration's decision to log
Giant Sequoia National Monument in federal court. The
groups also encouraged the administration and the court to look to neighboring
Sequoia National Park for a better way to manage the rare forest.
The Sierra Club, Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign, Earth Island Institute,
Tule River Conservancy, Sequoia Forest Keeper, and Center for Biological Diversity
jointly filed the complaint in San Francisco Federal District Court.
"These magnificent giant Sequoia forests are found nowhere else on earth," explained
Bruce Hamilton, Sierra Club Conservation Director. "It makes no sense
for the Bush administration to sacrifice such a spectacular national treasure.
It also happens to be illegal."
Giant Sequoia National Monument boasts one half of all the Sequoia redwoods
in the world, with most of the remainder found in the adjacent National Park.
The popularity and awe-inspiring beauty of the Sequoia forest and its wildlife
led President Bill Clinton permanently protect the forest as a National Monument
under the Antiquities Act. Earlier, President George Bush Sr. had proclaimed
the Sequoia groves off limits to commercial logging.
In January, 2005 , the Bush administration officially reversed
those policies by finalizing plans to allow what amounts to commercial logging
in the Monument, including the prized Giant Sequoia groves. The administration's
plan would allow 7.5 million board feet of timber to be removed annually from
the Monument, enough to fill 1,500 logging trucks each year. This policy would
include logging of healthy trees of any species as big as 30 inches in diameter
or more. Trees that size can be as much as 200 years old.
"This plan opens up huge areas to logging and specifically targets trees
big enough to sell, undermining the whole purpose of the Monument. The Bush
administration is shirking its responsibility to current and future generations
to take care of this ancient and treasured forest," added Carla Cloer,
representing the Tule River Conservancy.
As a model for better management, the Sierra Club and others are asking the
Bush administration to look to nearby Sequoia National Park, where innovative
conservation and fire prevention strategies have reinvigorated the Sequoia
groves and made nearby communities safer. "In stark contrast to the very
successful management techniques used for decades by the National Park Service
in the Sequoia National Park," reads the complaint, "[the Bush administration]
approved a Giant Sequoia National Monument Management Plan... that would permit
extensive logging and cause the degradation of old forest habitat and irreparable
harm to the Monument’s wildlife, directly conflicting with the purposes
of the Sequoia Monument."
"The plan proposed by the Forest Service reverts back to an outdated
strategy that ignores the clear recommendations of fire scientists on the Monument
Science Advisory Committee, that fire risk reduction is not about logging large
trees," stated Craig Thomas, Director of the Sierra Nevada Forest Protection
To view maps of the areas within the Monument where logging will be permitted,
go to: http://www.sierraclub.org/wildlands/sequoiaplan
The Intent of the Proclamation
In his Proclamation, President Clinton protected not only the Giant Sequoia groves
but the entire range of ecosystems within Monument boundaries, "Oak woodlands
and chaparral to high-elevation subalpine forest, numerous meadows and
streams .. an interconnected web of habitats for moisture-loving species." He
specifically included wildlife such as the Pacific fisher and the California spotted
owl, along geological and archaeological resources. He pointed out that
the forest needed to be restored from the effects of a century of fire suppression
Further, he directed in
the Proclamation that the removal of trees, except for personal use fuel
wood, may take place only if clearly
needed for ecological restoration and maintenance or public safety.
That language seems pretty straight forward. The forest needs to be restored
and trees can only be removed for very good reasons.
The Final Management Decision
Somehow the Forest Service interprets this stricture on tree removal to mean
they can continue logging and sell 7.5 million board feet of timber every
year, enough to fill 1500 logging trucks, for each of ten years. They say
they can justified removing ANY species of trees up to 30 inches in diameter
from the Monument's forests and Sequoia Groves. The Sierra Club fought to
stop such management practices with a lawsuit in the mid 1980s.
How do they justify all this tree removal? They say that this heavy manipulation
is needed to thin the trees that have grown too thick and close together creating
a fire hazard and for "ecological restoration." This is the same excuse
for logging they used a quarter of a century ago!
Harmful Logging Miles Away from Structures
How to best protect structures in a forest?
The Sequoia Task Force supports removal of easily ignitable brush and small
trees, those 4-8" in diameter from within about 200 feet of developed areas
and structures. That should be the first priority in reducing fuels and promoting public
safety. Cooperative projects with private property owners and home construction
using less flammable materials is the real key.
Bushes and small trees, the ones that carry fire, are almost never taken
to the sawmill because they are too small. They are not merchantible and
are NOT included in the 75 Million Board Feet of timber the Forest
Service plans to sell from the Monument in the next ten years. Scientists
that large trees are almost NEVER a flammability problem; they are
So where is all the projected commercial timber coming
from if not for protection of structures and public safety?
The Forest Service will "develop" huge so-called "threat and defense zones" that
will extend more than 1 1/2 miles from structures, and, in addition, they
will thin many south and west facing slopes.
There is no justification for heavy forest manipulation in areas up to 3 miles
in diameter centering on developed areas. There is no evidence that intense
thinning of the forest does anything except make the forest hotter, dryer
and more flammable; further, it destroys the old-forest habitat that
is already deficient on Monument lands because of past logging. As one
Sequoia expert pointed out, this Monument has a serious deficit of large
trees i.e. those 40 inches in diameter and larger. He astutely notes that
it would seem reasonable
to protect, not log, 30 inch trees if one hopes to quickly restore 40
While there may be limited situations that require tree removal instead of
prescribed fire alone, cutting and removing trees must be the last resort,
not the first. That is what the Proclamation clearly says. That is what we demand.
Sequoia National Park's Long History of Successful Management
How could the Forest Service insist that wide spread removal of large trees is "clearly
necessary" and is their only option, when Sequoia National Park, with
the same objectives, successfully avoids tree removal on forests adjacent to
Monument lands, in the same Giant Sequoia groves and Sierran forest ecosystem? The
Park has been using prescribed fire for decades to protect communities, reduce
fuels, create diversity, stimulate the growth of young sequoias and enhance
wildlife habitat in a healthy forest. They seldom resort to tree removal.
The results have been excellent. If you have not driven or hiked through
Sequoia National Park recently you should. Prepare for a treat. You
will see a healthy beautiful forest with redwoods and other species
looking much like the forest John Muir described in his ramblings through
the Sierra in the 19th century with a full range of healthy forest conditions
including evidence of recent fire. You will find yourself wondering
why the Forest Service can't do the same thing in the Monument.
The Monument Should be Managed by the Park System
Because the Forest Service refuses to comply with the spirit of the Proclamation,
the Sierra Club's position is that Monument should be managed by the National
Park Service--specifically Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park-- instead of by
the Forest Service. We are NOT recommending that the Monument become a Park;
it should remain a National Monument, managed in strict accordance with
the Proclamation that created it. Almost all the nation's National Monuments
are managed by the Park System; the Giant Sequoia National Monument should
be too! The Park Service would comply with the intent and spirit of the Proclamation. After
many field trips to Sequoia National Park, the Sequoia Task Force believes the
results of their management are excellent. Sequoia National Park has a proven
track record and offers the nation's highest standards in resource management.
The Monument deserves nothing less.
Monument Management Planning
- Satellite Photos Don't Lie!
- The Administration Can't See the Forest for the Sequoias by Chad Hanson (December 30, 2002)
- Plan Threatens Monument - March 2002 Update (March, 2002)
- Sequoia Task Force Recommendations for Giant Sequoia National Monument Management Plan [HTML] [PDF] - January 7, 2002
- USFS Draft Management Plan Alternatives - (USFS Offsite link) - January 8, 2002
- Ongoing Alert on Giant Sequoia Management Plan - July 29, 2001
- Giant Sequoia National Monument - 15 Months Later by Carla Cloer - July 18, 2001
- Sierra Club Alert on Giant Sequoia National Monument Management Plan Scoping - June, 2001
- December, 2000 - U.S. Forest Service publishes First Planning Update for Giant Sequoia National Monument Management (offsite link)
- November 15, 2000 - USFS publishes "roadless area" recommendations, and Map of Sequoia National Forest Inventoried Roadless Areas (includes boundaries of Giant Sequoia National Monument (PDF- Adobe Acrobat format - offsite link)
Environmentalists have had to fight to protect the Giant Sequoias ever since
the Giant Sequoia National Monument was proclaimed in April of 2000, and are
- Sierra Club Wins Lawsuit against Logging
Giant Sequoia National Monument - Judge Rules Against Bush Administration
Logging Plan (August 22, 2006)
Monument Fire Plan Declared Illegal! (July 16, 2005)
- D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals denies Tulare County's petition for a rehearing of the court's earlier decision favorable to the Monument. (February 4, 2003)
Monument Proclamation Chronology
- November, 2000 - Updated Sequoia Monument Myth Busters
- Many people still do not realize the opposition to
national monument status was -- and is still being -- fueled by completely FALSE information!
- September 16, 2000 - Sierra Club awards John Muir Award to Sequoia Task Force Chair Carla Cloer
- April 16, 2000 - Personal Report of
Proclamation Ceremony by Harold Wood - from The Roadrunner, published May, 2000
- April 15, 2000 - Sierra Club Hails New Sequoia National Monument - press release endorsing Monument Proclamation
- April 15, 2000 - President Clinton Response at Ropeline to Question about Political Motivation
- April 15, 2000 - Giant Sequoia National Monument
Proclamation - Full text of the Proclamation
- April 15, 2000 - President Clinton's Address at Proclamation Event - full text of remarks
- April 15, 2000 - White House Press Release Announcing Giant Sequoia National Monument Proclamation
- April 14, 2000 - White House Press Briefing
by George Frampton - from White House archives
- April 15, 2000 - NRDC Press
Release About the National Monument
- April 12, 2000 -
Environment Minister and children Support Giant Sequoia National Monument
- April 7, 2000 - Secretary of Agriculture
Glickman Recommends National Monument
- March, 2000 - Giant Sequoia National Monument: A Birthday Present for John Muir and the World! - Task Force Alert Calling for Support of the National Monument Proposal (still contains useful background information)
- February 23, 2000 - Letter to President Clinton from
Nigel Hawkins, Director, The John Muir Trust - Scotland
- February 16, 2000 - Sierra Club Press Release - Clinton
Proposes A Sequoia National Monument
- February 16, 2000 - Original Giant Sequoia National
Monument Proposal by NRDC and Sequoia Task Force
- February 15, 2000 - President's Letter to Daniel R.
- January - December, 2000 - Natural Resources
Web Site with additional Sequoia Monument Information. (offsite link)
The FACTS: Don't Be Misled! There are many preposterous rumors
being circulated, even now after the National Monument designation.
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!!! Tell that to the thousands of visitors to the
National Monument this year! Help us set the record straight!
- The Forest and the Groves WERE NOT PROTECTED by the MSA! No
legislation protected 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 prescribed burning is the most ecologically sound
method of reducing fuels. The National Park has successfully used burn
projects to reduce fire hazards for many years.
- 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.
- National Monument designation is NOT A LAND GRAB AND HAS NO AFFECT ON PRIVATE PROPERTY
RIGHTS!! National Monument designation applies only to lands
already owned by the public, already managed by the US Forest Service and owned by
all Americans. Tragically, special interests believe they have a right to privately
profit from lands owned by the public.
- 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.
- 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. Water rights are "subject to valid existing rights."
- Nothing in the Monument proclamation 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
- * 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 future 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
off-road vehicle use on appropriate primitive forest roads.
Magazine Articles about Giant Sequoia National Monument
Backpacker Dec, 2000, Vol. 28, Issue 191 No. 9, "Giant Sequoia National Monument", p. 66
California Journal, September, 2000, Vol. XXXI, No. 9, "Saving the Sequoias" by Michael Doyle, p. 24.
Sunset, September, 2000, "Giant Sequoia National Monument", P. 38.
Forest Magazine, Nov/Dec. 2000, "Sequoia Sellout?" by Jane Braxton
Little, p. 20