SAN DIEGO – Today, Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52) issued the following statement following the U.S. Forest Service’s emergency actions to protect giant sequoias, which were announced earlier today.
“I am encouraged to see the Biden Administration’s actions and thank them for meeting with us to learn more about the Save Our Sequoias Act,” said Rep. Peters. “We appreciate that the administration agrees that we need to act quickly to streamline environmental reviews to expedite fuel reduction treatments, such as ecological thinning and prescribed burns, to protect giant sequoia groves. This action by the Forest Service is an important and critical step in the right direction. Now we need to go further and pass the Save Our Sequoias (SOS) Act.”
Passing the Save Our Sequoias Act could expand protection of these groves because:
- The Forest Service’s actions only apply to Forest Service lands.
- More than 40% of giant sequoias live on lands owned by the Department of the Interior.
- These actions only cover 12 of the roughly 70 sequoia groves in California. The SOS Act would protect all giant sequoia groves.
- These actions use limited, one-time funding ($21 million) provided by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for wildfire risk reduction.
- Provisions in the SOS Act are closely aligned with expert recommendations to reduce wildfire risks and protect communities, and authorize $325 million over ten years to provide land managers the resources to treat all Sequoia groves within a decade. Experts agree that we need $5 billion to $6 billion per year to reduce the severity of wildfires in the West. We must unlock new resources to protect giant sequoias, because there is not enough money to do the job of protecting the giant sequoias and restoring landscapes across the West.
- The Forest Service’s actions rely on regulatory authorities that are likely to face heavy litigation.
- The SOS Act declares an emergency and provides clear statutory authority to facilitate sequoia protection projects.
- These actions do not require the production of a Giant Sequoia Health and Resiliency Assessment or codify the Giant Sequoia Lands Coalition.
- These measures are included in the SOS Act and ensure the best available science and a diverse group of local stakeholders closely inform sequoia protection projects.
“I know every person involved in these efforts cares deeply about the future of these historic trees. Moving forward, I hope we all acknowledge that this is only the beginning. The grim reality is that we could lose treasured forests forever from fires if we fail to act in a swift and comprehensive manner. These groves should be given the maximum amount of federal support to keep them alive and thriving for years to come.”