The U.S. Department of the Interior is conducting a review of 27 national monuments in order to implement President Trump’s Executive Order 13792 of April 26, 2017. The purpose of the order, according to an administration press release, is to assess whether these public lands designations violated the original intent of Antiquities Act of 1906.
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and his staff are seeking input as to whether the restrictions of the monuments are causing economic hardship or have placed certain areas off limits for uses that were previously allowed.
Among those public lands designated for review are 21 monuments, six in California, consisting of more than 100,000 acres, all designated since 1990.
Giant Sequoia National Monument
Specific to Tulare, Kern, and Fresno counties is Giant Sequoia National Monument, established April 15, 2000, by then-President Bill Clinton.
Giant Sequoia National Monument contains several groves of giant sequoias and shares boundaries with Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Its 328,000 acres are administered by Sequoia National Forest.
Uses that were restricted in Giant Sequoia National Monument because of the monument designation were logging, livestock grazing, and certain recreational uses like off road vehicle travel.
On Friday, May 5, the Department of the Interior opened the first-ever formal comment period for the public to weigh in on whether the monuments were appropriately designated and if the present uses are compatible with the expectations of area residents and stakeholders.
Tulare County Supervisors vote to reduce GSNM acreage
At the Tuesday, June 27, meeting of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors, the board voted 3-2 to send a letter to the Department of the Interior, requesting additional funding for the removal of dead trees in the Giant Sequoia National Monument. An amendment to the original funding request, proposed by Supervisor Steve Worthley, District 4, recommended a reduction in size of 90,000 acres for land within the current national monument boundaries.
The vote on the GSNM reduction amendment was Crocker (District 1, Three Rivers), Worthley, and Ennis voting yes and Shuklian and Vander Poel voting no.
Kuyler Crocker, District 1 Supervisor, said he could be comfortable going yay or nay on the amendment that asks for a reduction in size in the General Sequoia National Monument.
“My main concern is preserving water quality and reducing the fire hazard,” Crocker said. “We want to preserve the giant sequoias first and ensure that they are healthy and reproducing. If the monument is reduced in size it should be along the outskirts.”
Crocker also said he didn’t think the county’s letter would have much effect but if “it gets their attention for more active management” then that’s making some real progress.
Following the close of the comment period, Secretary Zinke is expected to submit a report with public comments attached and recommendations for what if any changes in size, status, or management might be appropriate for the public lands in question.
The deadline for submitting comments is Monday, July 10.
Comments may be submitted online to: www.regulations.gov/document?D=DOI-2017-0002-0001. Click on COMMENT NOW in the upper righthand corner of the screen.
Or mail comments to:
Monument Review, MS-1530, U.S. Department of Interior, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20240.