The State of the Forest - Giant Sequoia National Monument
On April 15, 2000, President Bill Clinton signed the proclamation creating the Giant Sequoia National Monument (GSNM) out of the Sequoia National Forest. The proclamation states the purpose of the monument is to protect the Sequoia forests and end logging for timber. The Forest Service was given jurisdiction over the Monument. In 2004, the Forest Service cordoned off the Trail of 100 Giants for a year, preventing the public from accessing the area. The Forest Service told the public it was going to log 138 trees in danger of falling and injuring the public, and stated that it would not sell any of the timber.
When the public returned to see the Trail of 100 Giants in Spring of 2005, it was discovered that over 200 large trees, and hundreds of smaller trees (too small to be hazardous), had been cut, and the most valuable timber was sold to mills. Many of the trees were over 300 years old, devoid of any disease or weakness that would have indicated a danger to the public.
In March of 2006, Chief of the Forest Service, Dale Bosworth, testified in a House Appropriations sub-committee hearing about the logging in the GSNM, responding to questions from Representative Maurice Hinchey. Chief Bosworth answered many of the questions incorrectly. He said in a congressional hearing in 2006 that the reason for the substantial logging operation was 'fire prevention.' He said that trees cut could have acted as "ladder fuels" in case of a fire, bringing a fire up from the ground to the tops of the large trees, such as the Sequoias. However, many of the trees cut were up to six feet in diameter and posessed no branches close enough to the ground to be a fire hazard or act as "ladder fuels", and in fact, the large trees are resistant to fire. In fact, many small trees, with branches close to the ground, were left, while giant trees with branches as far as 100 feet from the ground were logged. Later in 2006, the Forst Service built 17 miles of new logging roads in order to facilitate logging in other areas of the Giant Sequoia National Monument.
In September 2007, the Forest Service once again illegally entered the Trail of 100 Giants, in the Long Meadow Grove, and cut logs into pieces that had been there since the 2005 logging operation. The Forest Service cut approximately 20 pieces of four to six foot diameter bucked logs, each from 16 to 20 feet in length.
By implementing this cutting activity in the Long Meadow Grove, the Forest Service violated Judge Breyer's order to comply with the Mandated Settlement Agreement, which states:
"For the purposes of this agreement, prohibited logging shall mean any logging activity except logging conducted for limited and specific pupose of reducing the fuel load in the groves pursuant to a grove specific fuel load reduction plan and grove specific EIS (Environmental Impact Statement)."
The Forest Service has no grove specific fuel load reduction plan or EIS for the Long Meadow Grove.
See a slideshow outlining this battle or, visit the documents page for more information
Here are some of the issues that continue to face GSNM and America's sequoia forests:
1. Fire Management
Fire management in -----Giant Sequoia National Monument has chiefly consisted of prescribed fires, controlled burning that is designed to prevent out of control wildfires by thinning the density of a given stand. This is a particularily important tool in Sequoia forests, as it preserves the biodiversity and natural processes of the forest to a much greater extent than logging. The Giant Sequoias, which are fire resistant and do not burn easily, require fire in order to reproduce. As such, controlled burning is a more effective method than logging for fire management in addition to maintaining the forest ecosystem. However, this crucial tool has come under attack by powerful groups interested in resource extraction. By using out dated arguments and false data, many of these groups are mounting a convincing argument for logging in the Grand Sequoia National Monument.
In recent years the Forest Service has shifted its focus from timber sales to what it refers to as "fuels reduction projects," in other words logging to decrease susceptibility to fire. This is fraudulent, because in most cases logging in forests increases, not decreases their flammability. The Forest Service is attempting to apply this false reasoning to support logging in the Giant Sequoia National Monument.
Logging in our national forests, which the Forest Service and timber industry euphemistically call "fuel treatment", is very expensive. The Forest Service wants to log millions of acres on public and private lands, which would cost billions of dollars.