Letters to the Editor – July 2017

63

Public Voices Strong Support for Protecting Giant Sequoia National Monument

On June 27, the Tulare County Supervisors voted 3-2 to approve a letter calling for the elimination of portions of the Giant Sequoia National Monument. The move was pushed by Supervisor Steve Worthley, a former logging industry executive, with a history of suing the forest service over the monument and a stated desire to open the protected forest to logging. Public testimony was unanimously opposed to the letter and any reductions to the monument.

“We’ve already lost so much of our forest–this is some of our last. When we take youth from the Central Valley to the Giant Sequoia, kids that otherwise aren’t exceeding excel at nature. These forests are a source of life, water, clean air and spiritual sustenance for our Central Valley communities, and the world. Resource extraction is not a solution,” said Art Rodriquez of WildPlaces.

Public backlash to reducing monument protections led Kern County to drop consideration of a similar measure and the City of Porterville, a gateway community, when given a similar resolution, chose instead to approve a letter supporting the monument and asking for more funding for management and tourism.

“It’s clear that the community supports Giant Sequoia National Monument and wants to see it exist in the future. Cutting two-thirds of Giant Sequoia is a bad move for our giants, the ecosystem that maintains the giants and our future,” said Sarah Friedman of the Sierra Club.

Sarah Friedman, Sierra Club

Art Rodriguez, WildPlaces


 

Response from Kern County

They [Kern County] didn’t drop it. We were all lied to that the board had taken it off the agenda so we didn’t go. They voted and sent a letter to the Department of the Interior (see below). Gary Ananian, Founder and Executive Director at Kern River Conservancy

June 27, 2017

The Honorable Ryan Zinke Secretary                                                                               US Department of the Interior                                                                                       Monument Review, MS-1530                                                                                       1849 C Street, NW                                                                                               Washington, DC 20240

RE: Kern County Support for Review of the Giant Sequoia National Monument and recommendations

Dear Secretary Zinke,

Kern County appreciates the review of the Giant Sequoia National Monument, as the southern portion of the 328,000 acres extends into Kern County, California. The worthy goal of ensuring the legacy of our magnificent Sequoia Groves established in 1992 with President Bush’s designation of 90,000 acres has been placed in jeopardy with the 2000 expansion to over 328,000 acres. The management issues on this large acreage of dead and dying trees from the many years of drought are directly threating our mountain communities of Kernville, Lake Isabella and Wofford Heights.

Last year our community suffered the devastating effects of the Erskine Fire, which started on Bureau of Land Management land, burned onto the Sequoia National Forest and spread to private land. The fire consumed over 48,000 acres, destroyed 285 homes on private land with two confirmed fatalities. This is the 15th most destructive fire in state history and is directly related to the fuel load of our forests.

A review of the implementation of the adopted management plans shows that fuel loads are not being managed appropriately and a review is appropriate. Kern County is  recommending the following:

  1. Reduce the size of the Monument to the original 90,000 acres which are focused on proactive protection of our legacy Giant Sequoia groves.
  2. Limit the monument restrictions to those originally adopted in the 1992 Bush Giant Sequoia Monument proclamation.

These changes are consistent with your directions to determine if the monument is consistent with the requirements and original objectives of the Act in the following areas:

  1. The reservations not exceed the smallest area compatible with the proposer care and management of the objects to be protected.
  2. The concerns of State, Tribal and local governments affected by a designation, including economic development and fiscal condition of affected States, tribes and localities
  3. The availability of Federal resources to properly manage designated areas.

Kern County supports an examination of the size and management of the Giant Sequoia National Monument to “right-size” it for protection of our magnificent Sequoia Groves while protecting our residents, visitors and communities from the threat of devastating wildfires.

 

Sincerely,

[Board Chair Signature Block]                                                                                         cc: Kern County Planning and Natural Resources Department                                   Congressman Kevin McCarthy                                                                                   Congressman Devin Nunes