Republican U.S. Congressman Kevin McCarthy is scheduled to introduce legislation today specifically focused on preserving the Giant Sequoias.
The Save Our Sequoias Act is bipartisan legislation specifically focused on preserving Giant Sequoias. Along with McCarthy the other main sponsor of the bill is Democratic Representative Scott Peters.
Other sponsors of the bill are Democratic Congressmen Jim Costa and Jimmy Panetta and Republican Congressman David Valadao. All of those sponsors participated in a tour of the Giant Sequoias early last month to see first hand the damage that was done by the 2020 Castle Fire and last year's Windy Fire.
They were also able to tour the Trail of the 100 Giants to see the damage there — but also to see how the treasured grove was saved from the Windy Fire through active management by the Sequoia National Forest.
Sequoia National Forest Director Teresa Benson has said preserving and protecting the Trail of the 100 Giants remains a top priority although much work needs to be done to manage all of the forest's groves.
That's where the Save Our Sequoias Act comes in which would streamline the process as far as environmental regulations go when it comes to clearing trees and other fuels to reduce the threat of wildfires. Prescribed burning is also eventually seen as a key to protecting the Giant Sequoias.
It's estimated the Castle and Windy Fires destroyed up to 20 percent of the world's Giant Sequoias.
Among the other major components of the legislation is a State of Emergency for Giant Sequoias would be declared for 10 years due to the threat of wildfires, insects and drought.
The Save Our Sequoias Act would create the Giant Sequoias Lands Coalition. There has already been another Giant Sequoias Lands Coalition formed consisting of a number of government and non-profit agencies, including the Tule River Tribe and the Save the Redwoods League, an organization devoted to preserving the Sequoias and Redwoods.
The Save Our Sequoias Act's coalition would be formed by the Interior and Agriculture Secretaries who would enter into agreements with Governor Gavin Newsom and the Tule River Tribe. The Interior Department governs Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and the Agricultural Department governs the Sequoia National Forest where all of the damage of the Castle and Windy Fires have happened.
The Secretary of the Interior would appoint 11 members to the coalition — 6 federal officials, 2 state officials, 1 Tulare County official, 1 Tule River Tribe official and 1 official from the academic sector.
The coalition would conduct an assessment of the Giant Sequoias, including identifying groves and surrounding areas at the highest-risk of catastrophic fires. The coalition would also propose projects to protect groves and areas at the highest risk and develop policy recommendations to Congress to improve forest management.
Updates on reforestation and rehabilitation efforts of the Giant Sequoias would also be required.
The legislation would provide $325 million over 10 years.
It's hoped the bill can be passed as its own legislation this year. But the bill could be pushed until next year and could be included in other legislation such as the farm bill.
McCarthy has said when it comes to appropriations, funding for the effort to preserve the Giant Sequoias could be provided this year.