Giant Sequoia National Monument Campaign

Background

Nearly 20 years ago President Bill Clinton designated the 328,000-acre Giant Sequoia National Monument within the boundaries of Sequoia National Forest. The decision was not made lightly, but after careful consideration and a strong science based approach to assess the boundaries necessary to protect the numerous groves of Giant Sequoia within the Monument.

Giant sequoias are the largest and among the oldest trees in the world, and this species—known around the globe—only grows in this narrow band along the western slope of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. The Giant Sequoia National Monument protects half of the surviving giant sequoias in the world.

Seventeen years later, President Trump issued an Executive Order directing Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to consider shrinking the boundaries of 22 national monuments, amongst them the Giant Sequoia National Monument.

During last year’s public comment period on the shrinking or elimination of some of the monuments more than 2.5 million people commented and 98% of the comment opposed any changes to the monument designation.

Sierra Business Council submitted comment opposing changing the borders of the Giant Sequoia National Monument. We not only stand by that recommendation, we urge businesses, residents of the Sierra and friends of the Sierra to continue to weigh in opposing changes to the monument.

Why Support the Monument? 

Giant Sequoia National Monument is good for business. The Giant Sequoia and Kings Canyon region attracts millions of visitors a year who stay in hotels, buy gear, eat in local restaurants and patronize local businesses. According to research conducted by Visit California tourism in the four-county Central Valley gateway to the Giant Sequoia is a $2.3 billion industry generating 24,000 jobs. In Tulare County alone travel dollars generated $37.8 million in local and state tax receipts. Since monument designation in 2000, average earnings in the region have increased by $625 each year, greater than the five-year average before designation. Total employment in surrounding counties has also increased by 20 percent over the same period (despite the Great Recession). 

Critics have stated that shrinking the national monument, (by as much as 200,000 acres) is necessary to deal with the threat of wildfire in the region. We disagree.

The reality is the 2012 Giant Sequoia National Monument Management Plan specifically supports a number of fire prevention activities and projects including forest thinning, prescribed burning, managed fire, mechanical treatment, and removal of felled trees. The problem is not that the plans don’t allow for fire prevention and management it is that the USFS does not have enough money to do the preventative management necessary. Fifty percent of their money gets diverted every year to respond to wildfire instead of being used for preventive management.

The solution in the long run is to retain the Giant Sequoia National Monument as an economic engine and redouble our efforts to reform how we fund fire prevention and response.

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Taking Action

Giant Sequoia National Monument remains under threat. We want our friends to let their local, state and federal political leaders know that the region supports public lands. To help keep the ongoing threat to the Monument present in mind, SBC, with funding through the Rose Foundation, has secured several billboards in and around the Monument's gateway communities. 

In particular we are going to ask business owners who support the monument to speak up. Public lands are an economic engine that are often only seen through and environmental lens, when in fact they benefit surrounding communities, economy, and environment simultaneously.

Stay tuned for more actionable efforts to help us maintain California’s national monuments by following the issue via the hashtag, #StandwithSequoia, or #ApoyoaSequoia. 

It is not too late to protect the Giant Sequoia National Monument.

 

With thanks to our Giant Sequoia National Monument Coalition Partners: