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Sequoias - Documents

- Debate Over Fire Management -

- Lawsuits -

- Hearing -

- Inspector General Letter -

- Fight Over Forests -

- Science -


Science

Phil Rundel's Letter Supporting NPS management of GSNM PDF
Scientist Phil Rundel, Professor at UCLA, expert on the giant Sequoias, explains why the Forest Service is the wrong agency to manage the Giant Sequoia National Monument and why the National Park Service is the correct agency to manage the GSNM.

Debate Over Fire Management

Thomas Bonnicksen’s letter to the editor of the San Jose Mercury News | PDF
Thomas Bonnicksen, Professor Emeritus at Texas A&M University, has many ties to the timber industry and is an advocate for heavily logging forests. In a letter to the San Jose Mercury News, he accuses Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park of mismanaging the Sequoia forests because they use prescribed fires as a means of fire management. Prescribed fires, Bonnicksen claims, cannot reduce the amount of trees without severely damaging the forest.

Read Russel Wilson’s rebuttal of Bonnicksen’s article published in the Fresno Bee | PDF
Bonnicksen’s letter was refuted by Russel J. Wilson, the acting superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Wilson first attacks Bonnicksen’s claim that “I know this forest better than most people do” on the grounds that Bonnicksen’s work in the forest was done thirty years ago and he has not kept up with current research. In the article Wilson then goes on to explain the necessary relationship between fire and giant Sequoias. The giant Sequoias, which are fire resistant and do not burn easily, need fire in order to reproduce. The National Park Service’s controlled burning method, Wilson explains, is more effective at forest fire prevention than logging because it falls within the natural course of forest succession.

Litton’s article on fire management | PDF
John Litton is an aviation manager and supervisor of aerial firefighting with the Forest Service. Litton begins by stating that it is common knowledge among fire fighters that forest fires are never put out by humans, only by the weather. The most destructive fires, Litton says, are typically associated with past or present logging operations. With his expertise in the area, Litton exposes the Forest Service’s fire management plan as the fraud that it is.

LA Times article Questioning Bonnicksen's Credibility | PDF
An LA Times article was published in October 2006 questioning Bonnicksen’s credibility as a forest expert. According to the article, Bonnicksen has numerous ties to the timber industry from which he has received tens of thousands of dollars. Such close ties have made Bonnicksen a biased advocate for timber industry interests, especially logging in our National Forests.

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Lawsuits

Management plan lawsuit article from the Los Angeles Times | PDF
In 2005, the Forest Service announced its new Management Plan for the Giant Sequoia National Monument. Several conservation groups sued the Forest Service because the Management Plan would allow extensive logging in the Monument. Under the plan, enough trees could be cut in the Giant Sequoia National Monument to fill more than 2,000 logging trucks a year. Huge clearcuts would be permitted.

An Excerpt of the Mediated Settlement Agreement | PDF
The Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA) of 1990 required the Forest Service to conduct an environmental study before beginning any logging projects. In 2005, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed a law suit against the Forest Service for logging in the GSNM without conducting an environmental study, in violation of the MSA. The Forest Service claimed that the MSA was superseded by the 2000 proclamation creating the Giant Sequoia National Monument, and therefore that the MSA was null and void once the GSNM was created. Federal District Court Judge Breyer ruled that the MSA still was in force after the GSNM was created, and therefore that the Forest Service logging had indeed violated the MSA by logging without conducting an environmental study.

Excerpt of Court Decision on Giant Sequoia National Monument August 22, 2006 | PDF

Read an Associated Press article describing the above case here | PDF

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Hearing

Transcript of House committee Hearing 2006 - Questions and Answers Regarding Giant Sequoia National Monument with Analysis | PDF
Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth testified before Congress during a 2006 hearing of the House Interior Appropriations Sub-Committee regarding accusations of illegal logging in Giant Sequoia National Monument. Answering questions by Representative Maurice Hinchey, the Chief of the Forest Service stated that the trees were a fire threat and needed to be logged. He also said that the Forest Service conducted an environmental study before the project began. In fact, no environmental study was conducted prior to the trees being logged, nor did the trees pose a fire threat. The trees could not have been a fire threat because they had no lower branches that could ignite, and they had survived many fires in the past. During the hearing, the chief did not state the true purpose of the project: to cut the most valuable timber trees and deliver them to the timber mill.

Press Release on House Committee Hearing 2006 Regarding Giant Sequoia National Monument | PDF

Letter to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Chief of the Forest Service criticizing logging in the GSNM | PDF
In response to the hearing, twenty-nine Representatives wrote a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Chief of Forest Service criticizing the continuing logging operations in the Giant Sequoia National Monument. The letter detailed the violations of the Forest Service and demanded an end to logging in the Giant Sequoia National Monument.

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Inspector General Investigation Into Logging In the "Trail of 100 Giants" in Giant Sequoia National Monument

Letter to the USDA Inspector General | PDF
Following two Congressional hearings in 2006 and 2007, Representatives Maurice Hinchey, James Moran, and John Olver sent a letter to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Agriculture calling for an investigation into a logging operation conducted by the Forest Service in the Giant Sequoia National Monument in 2004-2005. Environmental groups claimed that the logging project was conducted illegally and several federal lawsuits have been decided against the Forest Service, finding that the Forest Service did indeed break the law. In their letter to the Inspector General, the Congressmen requested a full investigation into the operation to determine whether the Forest Service violated any laws.

Charges Sent to USDA Inspector General Demanding an Official Investigation into Logging in the Giant Sequoia National Monument | PDF
Save America’s Forests and Sequoia ForestKeeper detail the exact laws the Forest Service violated when it logged over 200 trees in the Trail of 100 Giants during 2004-2005. The violated laws include the National Forest Management Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Administrative Procedures Act, for infractions such as failing to provide adequate public notice or comment period, failing to prepare an environmental study, illegal categorical exclusion, and failing to follow its own hazard tree guidelines. The Forest Service failed to provide some requested information to the Congressional Committee investigating the logging in the GSNM, and also gave some false answers in testimony to the Congress.

In short, the Forest Service lied to the public before it logged the trees and then has worked to cover up the true reasons for the logging, which was to deliver timber to the local timber mill.

This document was part of the package of charges and information which three members of Congress sent along with their letter to the Inspector General of the USDA demanding an official investigation into the logging in the GSNM based on the charges in this document.

Read a Fresno Bee article reviewing the complicated issues surrounding the situation | PDF

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Fight Over Forests

This Fresno Bee article presents two sides of an ongoing debate regarding logging in the Giant Sequoia National Monument, with quotes from environmentalists working to stop logging in the Giant Sequoia National Monument, and loggers who have been cutting trees there for decades.

As Upton Sinclair once said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." The timber industry has been harvesting the forests for so long that many forest workers are unable to comprehend the destruction they have caused. As one of the loggers in Giant Sequoia National Monument points out, "We used to haul 100 loads a week -- and they were big logs," he said. "Now we're doing 30 -- and they are small." Because this man’s salary depends on the timber industry, he cannot comprehend that his own action of destroying the forest has undermined his own future as a logger.

Read the article here | PDF

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