The Tulare County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday endorsed an effort to cut the size of Giant Sequoia National Monument by over 70 percent. The proposal to shrink the monument came from Supervisor Steve Worthley, who used to work in the timber industry. He says the Forest Service isn’t doing a good job managing the monument, increasing the risk of wildfire.
“Leaving it as a national monument will only make it that much more difficult to engage in active management which is what is necessary,” said Worthley.
The monument was created in 2000 by President Bill Clinton and covers over 300,000 acres in the Sierra and Sequoia National Forests. Worthley made the motion to send a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke asking him to cut the monument-protected area to just 90,000 acres. He said it would still provide protections to the Giant Sequoias, while opening the rest of the area to other activities under conventional National Forest guidelines.
“Forests were designed to be working forests, that’s why we allowed grazing, we allowed mining, we allowed logging and the idea was we didn’t destroy this, you had a renewable resource, particularly when it comes to logging and grazing,” said Worthley.
Board Chairman Pete Vander Poel said his concerns centered on seeing that Congress provides adequate funding for the Forest Service to manage the monument, which he says is currently lacking.
“We just need to advocate for the funding aspect and also advocate for the proper management of the forest system in general, and then I think that we can look at size, scope etcetera, but not now, not today,” said Vander Poel.
Ultimately the board approved Worthley’s motion on a 3-2 vote, with Supervisors Shuklian and Vander Poel opposed. The vote came on the same day that Kern County Supervisors passed on a taking a vote on a similar letter calling to shrink the monument.