Congressman Kevin McCarthy introduced an amendment on Tuesday on the floor of the House of Representatives that would provide more than $13 million for the restoration of the Sequoia National Forest following the Sequoia Complex.
McCarthy, the Republican minority leader, introduced the amendment to be included in appropriations spending for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. McCarthy's district includes Porterville and the Sequoia National Forest.
In introducing his amendment, McCarthy mentioned Porterville as one of the many communities that depend on revenue from Sequoia National Forest tourism.
The more than $13 million in funding would be used in three areas, including removing hazardous trees and other safety hazards from the forest so burned areas of the forest could re-open, leading to quicker full reopening of the forest.
The funding would also be used for the restoration of current forest land that was damaged and to reduce the risk of future fires such as the Sequoia Complex from happening.
He noted the King Arthur Tree near Three Rivers, the ninth largest tree in the world, is still burning and may eventually die.
A recently released report led by Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and the U.S. Geological Survey, Western Ecological Research Center showed the devastation of the Castle Fire. The report estimates 10 to 14 percent of all the world's Giant Sequoias were killed as a result of the fire.
In addition the report concluded 31 to 42 percent of Giant Sequoias within the Castle Fire area were killed. The study also stated the numbers are just preliminary estimates. “It will likely take years to thoroughly quantify the effects,” the study stated.
The study estimate 7,500 to 10,600 Giant Sequoias were lost to the fire. The study estimated 33 percent of all the grove area in the Castle Fire burned which equals 9.7 percent of the total grove area in the Sierra Nevada burning at a high intensity.
Sue Cag, a conservationist living in the Alder Creek Grove, completed a study estimating the damage the Castle Fire did to the Alder Creek Grove. She estimated 38 percent of all Giant Sequoias in Alder Creek Grove were killed and 9.32 percent were severely damaged and may have been killed. Fifty-three percent of the Giant Sequoias in Alder Creek Grove survived the fire.
Kristen Shive of the Save The Redwoods League and the Nature Conservancy did a study on the damage of the 2017 Pier Fire in a small part of Black Mountain Grove that burned at high intensity. She estimated 35 percent of the Giant Sequoias in the area were killed and 65 percent survived.
The study came up with the estimated percentage of Giant Sequoias killed by the Sequoia Fire based on the estimates from different areas of groves. Based on what happened at Alder Creek Grove, the study came up with an estimate that 13.67 percent of all Giant Sequoias were killed.
Based on the Black Mountain Grove estimate, it was estimated 10.49 percent of all Giant Sequoias were killed. Based on all the estimates it was estimated 12.28 percent of all Giant Sequoias were killed, leading the study to conclude 10 to 14 percent of all Giant Sequoias were killed.
One area in which the student couldn't come up with a conclusion was the impact of logging on the groves.
“We currently cannot systematically estimate possible effects of logged areas on our conclusions,” the study stated. “This issue warrants future research.”
VET TECH PROGRAM
McCarthy's amendment also included $45 million for a significant expansion of the VetTech program McCarthy introduced in 2017. The program allows veterans to use the GI bill to be education in non-traditional technological fields.
McCarthy noted the program has served 3,000 veterans of which 90 percent have graduated and 72 percent have gone onto work in the field of their study at an average starting salary of $59,000 a year. McCarthy's amendment calls for an additional $45 million to serve the 44,000 veterans who have applied for the program.