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Sequoia Forest’s ‘National Monument’ Status May Result In It Burning To The Ground

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The Portersville City Council has approved a draft letter to the Secretary of the Interior asking to shrink the Sequoia National Forest Monument as a part of President Donald Trump’s executive order to review the boundaries of 27 national monuments in the U.S.

Former President George H.W. Bush first classified the old-growth Sequoia forest as a national monument in 1992. The classification covered 90,360 acres, including buffer zones. In 2000, President Bill Clinton used the Antiquities Act to expand the National Monument designation over 327,760 acres.

Mining and logging operations are currently banned within the protected zones. The Portersville City Council is petitioning to have the protected zones of the Sequoia National Forest returned to the 1992 area.

“We believe that modifying the boundaries of the Monument will better protect the Giant Sequoia Groves, public safety, and other unique resources from the growing threats facing forests in the Southern Sierras, including catastrophic wildfire and massive tree mortality due to overstocking, the recent historic California drought, and insect infestations,” the letter said, according to the Visalia Times-Delta.

The forest’s “monument” status has prevented the U.S. Forest Service from performing routine maintenance such as thinning trees and clearing out dead brush. The material buildup throughout the protected area has become a severe fire risk threatening both the monument and the surrounding communities, according to the letter.

Fire suppression has been an increasing amount of the Forest Service’s budget totaling $1.6 trillion, up from $683 million 15 years ago. The Forest Service estimates that fire suppression will total two-thirds of its budget within the next decade, while land management programs meant to deal with fires are being cut back.

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