Sierra Club Hails New Sequoia National Monument

	Sierra Club Hails New Sequoia National Monument 
	Saturday, April 15, 2000

GIANT SEQUOIA NATIONAL MONUMENT -- President Clinton today fulfilled
the century-old vision of permanently protecting California's
Giant Sequoias by designating their groves and surrounding
forests as a National Monument. The President's action is the
capstone to a conservation campaign begun by Sierra Club founder
John Muir to ensure these giants can inspire future generations
of Americans just as they awed Muir.

"John Muir ended the 19th century fighting to protect the Giant
Sequoia -- we are thrilled to see President Clinton start the
21st century by giving the Giant Sequoia forests the protection
they deserve," said Joe Fontaine, a Sierra Club past President
who has worked nearly 40 years to protect the Sequoia. "Some of
those old monarchs are over 3000 years old, over 30 feet in
diameter and taller than the Statue of Liberty. A walk through a
Giant Sequoia grove is a humbling experience," Fontaine added.
"God put us on this earth to be stewards of his creation, not to
destroy it. Some doubted we would accept the challenge. But
today, President Clinton is shouldering that responsibility to
leave a priceless, irreplaceable gift to future generations of

Last week, the Sierra Club presented Congress and President
Clinton with 600,000 postcards from people across America calling
for permanent Sequoia protection, while California Assemblymember
Dion Aroner gathered support from more than 50 members of the
state legislature. While U.S. Forest Service policy protected the
Sequoia trees themselves, it permitted other trees surrounding
the Giant Sequoia groves to be logged. However, because the
shallow-rooted Sequoias are so vulnerable to human impacts on
their environment, nearby logging can damage the majestic trees
by disrupting water flows, exacerbating erosion and altering the
fire conditions.

"Logging around the Sequoia groves has the potential to kill the
Sequoia just as an ax or a chainsaw does," said Dr. Edgar
Wayburn, Sierra Club's Honorary President and a recent
Presidential Medal of Freedom winner for his conservation work.
"A hundred years ago, John Muir walked these woods, marveled at
these ancient wonders, and dreamed of protecting America's
majestic sequoias forever -- now President Clinton is fulfilling
that dream."

One critical decision will be the role fire will play in allowing
the Sequoia forests to flourish in their natural state. In
Sequoia National Park, adjacent to the National Monument, the
National Park Service has relied on controlled burns to keep the
forests thriving. Healthy Giant Sequoia forests depend on fire to
clear out competing undergrowth, and Sequoia cones release their
seeds when activated by a forest fire's heat.

"The final step to granting Giant Sequoias full protection is to
select an appropriately qualified scientific panel to determine
how to allow the natural process of fire to shape these forests,"
Fontaine said. "We urge the panel be built on the experience of
scientists at the National Park Service, which has demonstrated
its ability to create an appropriate fire environment using
controlled burning without relying on logging."

Protecting the sequoia forest ecosystem has been one of the
Sierra Club's top goals for a century. As Muir wrote in The
Mountains of California in 1894, "Walk the Sequoia woods at any
time of the year and you will say they are the most beautiful and
majestic on earth. Beautiful and impressive contrasts meet you
everywhere -- the colors of tree and flower, rock and sky, light
and shade, strength and frailty, endurance and evanescence."

When President Clinton initiated the Sequoia National Monument
process, he wrote to Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman that he
did so at Dr. Wayburn's urging. Clinton wrote: "I want to ensure
that these majestic cathedral groves, which John Muir called
`Nature's masterpiece,' are protected for future generations to
study and enjoy. ... Dr. Edgar Wayburn, Honorary President of the
Sierra Club, mentioned this to me when I awarded him a
Presidential Medal of Freedom last summer, and he also has
written me about the subject."

"The late Congressman George E. Brown, Jr. realized these forests
were part of our nation's spiritual heritage, and when he died,
his colleagues Congressmen Sam Farr and George Miller carried the
baton to fulfill his vision," Wayburn said. "The names of
Congressmen Farr and Miller will be forever linked to those of
John Muir and George Brown when future generations remember those
who saved the Sequoia."

For more information, contact: 
Joe Fontaine 
Sierra Club

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