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NRDC Campaign to Save Giant Sequoias Bolstered by President’s Declaration for a National Monument

LOS ANGELES (April 15, 2000)-- Capping a successful year-long campaign to save California’s giant sequoias, NRDC applauded President Clinton’s announcement today declaring California’s famed giant sequoia trees as  a national monument. The proclamation designates 328,000 acres to be set aside in Sequoia National forest.

“Today, we salute the President and all those who spoke up to urge that he save this glorious forest,” said NRDC senior attorney Niel Lawrence. “The monument he created adds a new crown jewel to America’s justly famous treasury of parks and preserves. This is a tremendous victory for the environment, our natural heritage and the American public.”

The new monument will be managed by the U.S. Forest Service and allows for continued public access for hiking, camping, river rafting, kayaking, horseback riding and other types of non-motorized recreation. It also directs the Secretary of Agriculture to appoint a science advisory board to determine issues such as fire management and to adopt a new management plan for the monument within three years.

NRDC  began looking into a national monument as a means of protecting the giant sequoias over a year ago. Earlier this year, NRDC‘s President John Adams sent a letter, a proposal and postcards from nearly 5,000 NRDC members to President Clinton urging him to create a giant sequoia national monument. The president requested Secretary of Agriculture, Dan Glickman to investigate the possibility of a monument in February and the secretary delivered a recommendation for a national monument just last week.

Giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron gigantea) are coniferous trees, the largest of which exceed 30 feet in trunk diameter and reach higher than the Statue of Liberty, base pedestal and all. The oldest specimens have stood for more than 3,000 years. They are widely considered the largest of all living things on Earth and are closely related to the redwoods (Sequoia sempevirens), which are the world’s tallest trees.

Millions of years ago, members of the sequoia family grew across North America. Today the giant sequoia’s range is confined to a narrow strip on the western slope of the central and southern Sierra Nevada Mountains. They survive in some 75 groves. About a third of these groves lie within Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, but half – 38 – are in the adjoining Sequoia National Forest. Others are scattered in state lands, other federally managed land, an Indian reservation and private land.

Not only are giant sequoias rare and majestic, but their old growth ecosystem supports many rare wildlife species. Historically, the giant sequoia belt was California condor country. In fact, the last condor captured in the wild was found nesting in a sequoia. The region also is home to California spotted owls, wolverines and Pacific fishers, all potential nominees for the threatened- or endangered-species lists. The American marten, northern goshawk, mountain lion, mountain yellow-legged frog, Kern River Rainbow Trout, Volcano Creek Golden Trout and numerous rare plants also frequent or live in the greater sequoia ecosystem.

“NRDC is confident that these groves, which were logged as recently as the 1980s, finally have the status that they deserve,” said NRDC Project Attorney Andrew Wetzler. “We predict this will become one of the country’s best known and beloved national monuments. Its spectacular giant sequoias, wide forests, bountiful wildlife, plentiful recreation opportunities and proximity to popular parks make this monument a natural for the public to visit and fall in love with.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 400,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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