May 6, 2022
SAN DIEGO – Yesterday, Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52) visited Sequoia National Forest as part of a bipartisan Congressional Delegation. The group of representatives joined members of the U.S. Forest Service to observe the current health of giant sequoia groves and further understand the effects of increasingly frequent and devastating wildfires on this iconic tree species. The delegation received valuable feedback from community members and local officials on the bipartisan legislation Rep. Peters is developing with his Congressional colleagues.
“The towering sequoia tree inspires awe and admiration,” said Rep. Peters. “Now, unnatural conditions are threatening the future of these natural wonders. Our visit to Sequoia National Forest showed us the effects of devastating wildfires on sequoia groves and informed us as lawmakers about how we can protect this beloved species. I thank Ranking Member Westerman for inviting me to join this congressional delegation, as well as the U.S. Forest Service and community leaders who gave us a first-hand look at the cost of environmental inaction.”
Giant sequoias, one of our most iconic symbols in nature, only grow across roughly 37,000 acres in California, an area smaller than Washington, D.C. Giant sequoias are the most massive trees on Earth and can live to be thousands of years old. In our fight against climate change, they play a critical natural role by capturing significant amounts of carbon dioxide during their lifetimes.
While giant sequoias are uniquely capable of protecting themselves against natural threats, unnatural conditions and high-severity wildland fires have killed an unprecedented number of sequoias since 2015. In 2020, the Castle Fire killed an estimated 10% to 14% of all living giant sequoias. In 2021, the Windy Fire and KNP Complex Fire killed an additional 3% to 5%. These fires are also destroying sequoia seedlings, making it impossible for the trees to regenerate on their own. Researchers estimate that at least 20 groves are at a high risk of fire in the coming years, and we have a limited window of time to protect them.
During the field tour, Members visited giant sequoia groves that have suffered damage during wildfires, viewed examples of active forest management that can make groves more resilient to wildfire, insects, and disease, and finally participated in a roundtable discussion with local organizations concerned about the future of the giant sequoias.
Other Members of Congress who joined this tour include:
- House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (AR-4)
- Rep. Kevin McCarthy (CA-23)
- Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16)
- Rep. Jimmy Panetta (CA-20)
- Rep. David Valadao (CA-21)