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NPS Announcement on Giant Sequoias Echoes Bipartisan House Effort


WASHINGTON, D.C., October 13, 2022 -

Today, the National Park Service (NPS) announced that Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks will take emergency actions designed to protect Giant Sequoias from catastrophic wildfire in 11 groves. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) and U.S. Reps. Scott Peters (D-Calif.), David Valadao (R-Calif.) and Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) issued the following joint statement in response:

"After visiting the Giant Sequoias earlier this year and seeing wildfire devastation firsthand, we introduced the bipartisan Save Our Sequoias Act to protect these iconic trees before fires even begin. Our legislation would declare an emergency in the Giant Sequoia groves and equip NPS officials with essential management tools to proactively and comprehensively make Giant Sequoias more resilient against future wildfires. We are pleased NPS is administratively implementing part of the SOS Act with today’s announcement. However, protecting Giant Sequoias from fires cannot be piecemeal, which is why we will continue to work to advance the comprehensive SOS Act in the House, building on the momentum of these commonsense actions."

Background

Despite the looming threat to the remaining Giant Sequoias, federal land managers have not been able to increase the pace and scale of treatments necessary to restore Giant Sequoias' resiliency to wildfires, insects and drought. Today's announcement helps change that trajectory by activating emergency authority to streamline the National Environmental Policy Act reviews.

However, unlike the SOS Act, which would immediately cover all Giant Sequoia groves, today’s announcement does not include key groves in places like Yosemite National Park. Just a few months ago, the Washburn Fire threatened the iconic Mariposa Grove in Yosemite, and litigants have sued NPS to halt critical forest management work designed to protect the Giant Sequoias in Yosemite.

The Save Our Sequoias (SOS) Act is a comprehensive bill that would provide land managers with several other emergency tools and resources needed to save the remaining ancient wonders from the unprecedented peril threatening their long-term survival. The bill currently has 50 bipartisan cosponsors, evenly divided between 25 Republicans and 25 Democrats. The bill is also supported by more than 115 organizations representing a wide variety of stakeholders concerned about the long-term protection of Giant Sequoias.  

The bill would:

  • Enhance coordination between federal, state, tribal and local land managers through shared stewardship agreements and the codification of the Giant Sequoia Lands Coalition, a partnership between the current Giant Sequoia managers.
  • Create a Giant Sequoia Health and Resiliency Assessment to prioritize wildfire risk reduction treatments in the highest-risk groves and track the progress of scientific forest management activities.
  • Declare an emergency to streamline and expedite environmental reviews and consultations while maintaining robust scientific analysis.
  • Provide new authority to the National Park Foundation and National Forest Foundation to accept private donations to facilitate Giant Sequoia restoration and resiliency.
  • Establish a comprehensive reforestation strategy to regenerate Giant Sequoias in areas destroyed by recent catastrophic wildfires.

Contact: Committee Press Office 202-225-2761

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