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Westerman, McCarthy Lead Bipartisan Giant Sequoias Tour


WASHINGTON, D.C., May 6, 2022 -

Yesterday, House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) joined House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and U.S. Reps. Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), David Valadao (R-Calif.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.) for a tour of the Sequoia National Forest.

"California's Giant Sequoias are some of the world's most iconic trees, and rightfully so. It's tragic that in recent years these national treasures have become increasingly susceptible to catastrophic wildfires. We've lost 19 percent of our Giant Sequoias in the past two years alone, which is a clear sign that we have to dramatically and rapidly change our strategy to prevent any more loss. I've always advocated for scientific forest management on our public lands, and I was glad to finally visit the national forest to see these trees in person and learn more from experts on the ground about how we can prevent wildfires from causing permanent damage to the groves. I'm grateful for Leader McCarthy's proactiveness on this issue, as well as Congressmen Peters, Valadao, Panetta and Costa for joining us. As Henry Ford said, 'Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.' I hope we can learn from our past failures in forest management to spur bipartisan action on saving our Sequoias."- House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.)

"After seeing the Giant Sequoias first hand, and understanding the damage fires have caused to our communities, it’s clear there is an urgent need to address this crisis through fire prevention and better forest management. In Congress, Republicans are working to develop conservation policies that will restore our forests, reinvigorate local economies around them, and keep our communities safe. We can’t afford to wait to address this crisis. I thank Ranking Member Westerman — a forestry expert — for his leadership on this issue, my colleagues for our shared commitment to ensure these natural wonders continue to thrive for generations to come, and all those who participated in the roundtable for their commitment to protecting our Giant Sequoias."- House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)

"The towering sequoia tree inspires awe and admiration. 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 bipartisan 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." - U.S. Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.)

"Our giant sequoias are a national treasure, and here in the Central Valley we’re lucky enough to have them right in our own backyard. Unfortunately the threat of drought and wildfire have put these giants at risk. I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn from community leaders and federal land managers about how we can properly manage our forests to protect these resources for future generations." - U.S. Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.)

Background

Only 37,000 acres of Giant Sequoias exist in the world, all of which are in California. Unfortunately, high-severity wildfires are killing Giant Sequoias at an alarming rate. Over a 15-month period, from 2020-2021, nearly one-fifth of all Giant Sequoias were lost to catastrophic wildfires.

Historically, Giant Sequoia groves used to experience an average of 31 fires per century that would clear out smaller fuels on the ground and allow the Sequoia species to flourish. Decades of fire suppression and mismanagement has caused a buildup of hazardous fuels which feed catastrophic wildfire far exceeding what Giant Sequoias are adapted to tolerate.

The members began their trip with a tour of the Sequoia National Forest, where they heard from U.S. Forest Service officials about the area's recent fire history and need for vegetation management. They later hosted a roundtable to listen to community leaders, local experts and federal land managers on ways to best protect Giant Sequoias from threats like high-severity wildfire, insects and drought.


Contact: Committee Press Office 202-226-9019

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