Rep. Peters, Speaker McCarthy, Chair Westerman, and 48 Others Reintroduce Save Our Sequoias Act in Celebration of Arbor Day
April 28, 2023
Washington, D.C. - Today on Arbor Day, Representative Scott Peters (CA-50), Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy(CA-20), Natural Resources Committee Chairman Bruce Westerman (AR-04), and a bipartisan group of Members introduced the Save Our Sequoias (SOS) Act, a bill to give land managers the tools to save the iconic giant sequoia and reduce the severity of wildfires that contribute to climate change.
Other original co-leads of the SOS Act include representatives Jim Costa (CA-21), David Valadao (CA-22), Jimmy Panetta (CA-19), Tom McClintock (CA-05), and John Garamendi (CA-08).
"For generations, the majestic giant sequoia has provided innumerable cultural, environmental, and recreational benefits to humans,” said Rep. Peters. “Unfortunately, poor land management and climate change have led to increasingly severe fires that threaten the survival of giant sequoias and the stability of the climate. In just one year, California wildfires contributed more to climate change than the state’s entire power sector. The bipartisan Save Our Sequoias Act charts a new path forward in federal forest and wildfire policy to combat climate change and ensure the giant sequoias stand safely in their natural habitat for years to come."
"All Americans want to protect our environment,” said Speaker McCarthy. “The Save Our Sequoias Act offers a commonsense, bipartisan solution to poor forest management and the burdensome regulations that make it extremely difficult to protect California’s historic Giant Sequoias. I am grateful to Chairman Westerman, Congressman Peters, and our entire group of bipartisan co-leads for their shared commitment to addressing this pressing need so that generations of Americans can enjoy these iconic trees for years to come."
"The majestic Sequoias are part of our nation's history and are truly a sight to behold,” said Chair Westerman. “Even though they’re the most fire-resilient species on the planet, forest mismanagement in the West has caused wildfires to become so hot and so intense that we’ve lost more than 20 percent of all Giant Sequoias in the past decade. Responsibly managing forests and removing the excess buildup of fuel on the forest floor will help save these priceless trees for generations to admire and appreciate. I want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for co-leading this vital and commonsense legislation to ensure these awesome giants are here long after we are gone."
"The magnificent Giant Sequoia tree has a strong and resilient history in California, they tell a story that goes back thousands of years,” said Rep. Costa. “Climate change is threatening and diminishing our long-standing redwood groves. We need to improve forest management and reduce wildfire risk on federal public lands, or else we will watch the destruction of these ancient trees. I’m proud to help lead this effort to preserve and protect the world's hardiest trees for future generations to come."
"California’s Giant Sequoias are a national treasure, and the Central Valley is lucky to have these iconic groves right in our own backyard,” said Rep. Valadao “Sadly, decades of poor forest management have caused unprecedented destruction to these trees, and we’re now at risk of losing these giants for good. I’m proud to join my colleagues to introduce the Save Our Sequoias Act, bipartisan legislation that will ensure we save our Sequoias for generations to come."
“Despite the recent storms of this year, the devastating wildfire season will be upon us soon threatening our forests, communities, and natural wonders including our giant sequoias,” said Rep. Panetta. “Over the past few years, the continued build-up of dead and dying undergrowth around the sequoias contributed to raging wildfires that killed twenty percent of these iconic, ancient, and beautiful trees. The Save Our Sequoias Act is bipartisan legislation that allows for sound, science based, targeted management specifically around the sequoias, provides for stronger partnerships among forest managers at every level, and promotes efforts to regenerate our giant sequoia groves. As a U.S. Representative from California, I firmly believe that it is our responsibility in Congress to author and pass legislation like this that ensures proper of stewardship to save our sequoias."
"I am pleased to join Speaker McCarthy and my colleagues in introducing the Save Our Sequoias Act, which will restore active management by empowering land managers with critical tools to expeditiously carry out fuels reduction and reforestation projects,” said Rep. McClintock.
"The Sequoia is a magnificent spectacle that supports our environment, recreation, and tourism economy,” said Rep. Garemendi. “The climate crisis poses an unprecedented risk to the health and existence of this species, and I am determined to work in a bipartisan manner to support efforts to preserve and protect our Sequoias. That is why I am proud to support the Save Our Sequoias Act."
Over the course of two years, catastrophic wildfires wiped out nearly one-fifth of the world’s Giant Sequoias. Covering only 37,000 acres in California across roughly 70 groves, Giant Sequoias are among the most fire-resilient tree species on the planet and were once considered virtually indestructible. However, more than a century of fire suppression, mismanagement, and climate change have led to unnaturally intense, high-severity wildfires. The emergency now facing Giant Sequoias is unprecedented – the last recorded evidence of large-scale Giant Sequoia mortality due to wildfires occurred in the year 1297 A.D., more than seven centuries ago.
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 Sequoia's resiliency to wildfires, insects, and drought. At its typical pace, it would take the U.S. Forest Service approximately 52 years to treat just their 19 highest-priority Giant Sequoia groves at high-risk of experiencing devastating wildfires. Without urgent action, we are at risk of losing our iconic Giant Sequoias in the next several years. Accelerating scientific forest management practices will not only improve the health and resiliency of these thousand-year-old trees but also enhance air and water quality and protect critical habitat for important species like the Pacific Fisher.
The SOS Act will provide land managers with the emergency tools and resources needed to save these remaining ancient wonders from the unprecedented peril threatening their long-term survival. 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.
Last May, Rep. Peters, Speaker McCarthy, Chair Westerman, and others visited Sequoia National Forest as part of a congressional delegation. Members saw the first-hand damage of wildfires on sequoia trees, viewed examples of active forest management to make groves more resilient to wildfire, insects, and disease, and participated in a roundtable discussion on the future of the giant sequoias with local organizations.
To watch the members' live announcement click here.
One pager here.
Full bill text here.
The more than 50 original cosponsors include U.S. Reps. Cliff Bentz (R-Ore.), Ami Bera (D-Calif.), Jack Bergman (R-Mich.), Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), Lou Correa (D-Calif.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Angie Craig (D-Minn.), Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), John Curtis (R-Utah), John Duarte (R-Calif.), Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho), John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Mike Garcia (R-Calif.), Jared Golden (D-Maine), Garret Graves (R-La.), Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), Josh Harder (D-Calif.), Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Kevin Kiley (R-Calif.), Young Kim (R-Calif.), Ann Kuster (D-N.H.), Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.), Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), Susie Lee (D-Nev.), Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa), Blake Moore (R-Utah), Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), Kevin Mullin (D-Calif.), Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), Jay Obernolte (R-Calif.), Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), Mary Peltola (D-Alaska), Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), Deborah Ross (D-N.C.), John Rutherford (R-Fla.), Pete Stauber (R-Minn.), Michelle Steel (R-Calif.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Pa.), Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), Tom Tiffany (R-Wis.), Norma Torres (D-Calif.), David Valadao (R-Calif.), Juan Vargas (R-Calif.) and Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.).
The legislation is endorsed by a wide coalition of stakeholders including Save The Redwoods League, the Tule River Tribe, the National Congress of American Indians, the Property and Environment Research Center, Society of American Foresters, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, and the National Association of Counties, among over 80 other organizations.