Bush Puts Giant Sequoias On
The Chopping Block

Under the guise of forest fire prevention, the Bush Administration's Forest Service has proposed logging in California's Sequoia National Monument, home to some of the world's tallest and oldest trees, reaching ages of 3,200 years or more.[1] Also at risk are the Pacific fisher, the California spotted owl, and many other threatened species dependent on ancient forest habitat.[2]
Established by President Clinton in 2000, the Monument designation was the culmination of years of work by environmentalists. But in its draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for management of the Monument, the Forest Service chose the most environmentally destructive of six alternative management plans, the one calling for the most intensive logging.
Under the Forest Service's "preferred alternative," 80,000 acres would be opened for logging, including trees up to 30 inches in diameter, a size not permitted in most National Forests throughout the Sierra Nevada.[3] The Forest Service's proposal calls for 180 clearcuts, producing 10 million board feet a year.[4]
The Forest Service plan is based on the idea that if the ancient Sequoias aren't logged, they will be vulnerable to catastrophic fires (despite the fact that they have somehow managed to survive for thousands of years on their own). But the real motivation may lie in a sentence buried deep in the EIS, which says logging in the Monument "might make the difference between continued operation and closure of the one mill available to serve the Monument."
If fire prevention is actually the Forest Service's agenda, experts cite better ways to accomplish this, such as thinning the forest near homes and businesses, and increasing the number of prescribed burns.
Logging in the Monument will actually increase the likelihood of severe fires, since removal of the large trees reduces the cooling shade of the forest canopy, and because highly flammable brush accumulates in open areas where logged trees once stood.[5]
In a final insult, the Forest Service plan will actually be subsidized by taxpayers, to the tune of $34 million. Much of that will go toward road building, even though there are already 900 miles of roads in the Monument. And nearly $14 million of taxpayer money will be spent for "mechanical thinning of conifer" -- otherwise known as logging. [6]
SOURCES: [1] Presidential Proclamation establishing Sequoia National Monument, April 15, 2000. [2] "Forest Service Bushwhacks Giant Sequoia National Monument," Sierra Club.
[3] "Forest Service Proposes to Log Sequoia National Monument," The Wilderness Society. [4] Ibid. [5] Action Alert, Sequoia ForestKeeper. [6] Ibid.



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