Sequoia Task Force Alert
by Carla Cloer, Chair of the Sierra Club Sequoia Task Force
On John Muir's birthday this coming April 21st, both Muir and the American people may get a fantastic birthday present. President Clinton has announced he may protect the "forgotten" half of the Giant Sequoia ecosystem in a Giant Sequoia National Monument. A hundred years ago John Muir began the campaign to protect all the Giant Sequoias, yet today less than half are protected in the National Park. If President Clinton carries out his proposal, Muir's dream could come true. Clinton's decision is expected within the next 45 days. What is the Monument proposal and how will it affect forest management and local people?
The Monument Proposal
Under the Antiquities Act of 1906, Presidents can declare qualifying lands as National Monuments to "protect objects of scientific or cultural interest." Thousands of years old Sequoia trees, the largest living things on earth, certainly qualify under both counts. Local conservationists have worked for twenty years to protect our local Sierra Nevada by urging legislation to protect the Big Trees while preserving local property rights, working within Forest Service procedures to protect watersheds and ancient forests, and filing successful lawsuits to stop logging in Sequoia groves and the forests of which they are a part.
Today, a Sequoia Monument proposal, largely based on our Sequoia Bill, is sitting on President Clinton's desk. We are proud of this proposal. It is well-thought-out, reasonable and responsible. It will protect a dynamic forest ecosystem, allow restoration, and be people friendly. It is neither a Park nor a Wilderness. It deserves your immediate support.
The Monument would include about 400,000 acres of publicly owned National Forest lands. This compares to the 402,000 acres that Sequoia National Park uses to protect its half of the Sequoia ecosystem (with somewhat fewer groves). Monument lands would include 37 Sequoia groves and their surrounding forests which affect fire regimens, ground water flows, and wildlife populations. The Monument would be in two units, (Hume District and Southern) both contiguous with Sequoia National Park. It would incorporate some of the most intact old growth forest remaining in the Sierra Nevada as well as damaged lands which would be rehabilitated. Many National Monuments are managed by the Park System, but our proposal suggests management by the Forest Service. Monument provisions would, however, include specific language based on Park Service practices for forest management and restoration, including an end to commercial logging. But we do NOT propose that the Monument be a Park. Except for logging, most activities currently allowed in the Sequoia National Forest will continue.
The FACTS: Don't Be Misled!
There are many preposterous rumors being circulated. 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!!! Help us set the record straight!
Few more deserving objects of national monument protection can be found than the ecosystem that supports the world's last stands of giant sequoias. Extraordinary it is, that more than half the remaining groves lack permanent protection.
Here locally, many folks may take our Sierran backyard forest for granted but this magnificent Sierran forest with its ancient red giants is a world class natural wonder. A recent poll shows that 90% of Californians support its protection. Citizens from around the world are rallying support for the creation of this National Monument.
Those who want to exploit the forest are furiously distorting the nature of the Monument proposal with all sorts of nonsense to encourage opposition. Get more information at the websites indicated below. You can contact the Sierra Club for more information. Future generations will thank us for our courage and foresight in supporting the creation of the Sequoia National Monument. So let's get on the Welcome Wagon for our nation's newest National Monument. It's about time.
As a local citizen, urge those below to support the creation of a strong, meaningful Giant Sequoia Monument.
President William Jefferson Clinton
Governor Gray Davis
Senator Dianne Feinstein