The fight to save national monuments comes to Kern and Tulare counties

Boards of supervisors in each county are prepping a letter supporting the shrinking of the Giant Sequoia National Monument. Our voices can stop them.

Giant Sequoia National Monument Photo: Felix Lew

If you live in Kern County or Tulare County, the fight to save our national monuments has arrived at your door. On June 27, supervisors in both counties will decide on a recommendation to send a letter to the U.S. Department of Interior supporting that the Giant Sequoia National Monument be shrunk in size.

We’re asking our activist in both counties to call their supervisors to express their opposition to this. Here are the numbers:

In Kern County, call (661) 868-3601
In Tulare County, call (559) 636-5000

Audubon California has joined other conservation organizations in opposing this action, and Audubon chapter members and activists will be in the room when both boards of supervisors meet.

If you want to attend the Kern meeting in person, it will occur on June 17 after 2 p.m., here's the location:

Kern County Administrative Center
First Floor Board Chambers1115
Truxtun Avenue
Bakersfield, CA

The Tulare meeting starts at 9 a.m. here:

Board of Supervisors Chambers
2800 W. Burrel Avenue
Visalia, CA 93291

The Giant Sequoia National Monument preserves the only ecosystem on earth that supports the iconic giant sequoia, while providing clean water for downstream farms, ranches and homes. More than 200 species of birds have been spotted in and around the monument, including key species such as the Bald Eagle, Western Tanager, Yellow Warbler, and California Spotted Owl.

President Trump this morning announced that he is directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review any national monument created since Jan. 1, 1996, that spans at least 100,000 acres in response to what he considers recent abuses of the 1906 Antiquities Act. The Act authorizes the president to declare federal lands of historic or scientific value to be national monuments.

Audubon has responded with strong opposition to any attempt to reverse National Monument designations.

Giant Sequioa National Monument attracts tourists from around the world, inspiring and informing millions and bringing much-needed jobs and revenue into the Southern Sierra Nevada. But this economic lifeline depends on the survival of the sequoias, which are increasingly imperiled by climate change. As with other species in the region, it is critical to conserve as much of their range as possible, including corridors between the sites where they grow now and sites where they will be able to grow in a warmer climate.

One of the purported reasons behind this move is wildfire risk. We, too, are concerned about reducing wildfire risk, particularly in light of widespread tree mortality caused by drought and insect infestation. But the Giant Sequoia National Monument Management Plan already authorizes a number of fuel reduction approaches, including, prescribed burns, managed wildfire, fuel reduction by hand, fuel reduction by mechanical treatment, and removal of felled trees.

Reducing the size of the monument isn’t the answer to fire risk. The most effective way to improve fire management is through proper forest management under the current plan, which includes a number of proven fuel reduction approaches.

Again, if you live in Kern or Tulare counties, please call your supervisors to oppose this move. And spread the word.

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