Angeles Volunteer Association

SOURCE:  White House, April 15, 2000.




The rich and varied landscape of the Giant Sequoia National Monument
holds a diverse array of scientific and historic resources. Magnificent
groves of towering giant sequoias, the world's largest trees, are
interspersed within a great belt of coniferous forest, jeweled with
mountain meadows. Bold granitic domes, spires, and plunging gorges
texture the landscape. The area's elevation climbs from about 2,500 to
9,700 feet over a distance of only a few miles, capturing an
extraordinary number of habitats within a relatively small area. This
spectrum of ecosystems is home to a diverse array of plants and animals,
many of which are rare or endemic to the southern Sierra Nevada. The
monument embraces limestone caverns and holds unique paleontological
resources documenting tens of thousands of years of ecosystem change.
The monument also has many archaeological sites recording Native
American occupation and adaptations to this complex landscape, and
historic remnants of early Euro-american settlement as well as the
commercial exploitation of the giant sequoias. The monument provides
exemplary opportunities for biologists, geologists, paleontologists,
archaeologists, and historians to study these objects.

Ancestral forms of giant sequoia were a part of the western North
American landscape for millions of years. Giant sequoias are the
largest trees ever to have lived, and are among the world's
longest-lived trees, reaching ages of more than 3,200 years or more.
Because of this great longevity, giant sequoias hold within their tree
rings multi-millennial records of past environmental changes such as
climate, fire regimes, and consequent forest response. Only one other
North American tree species, the high-elevation bristlecone pine of the
desert mountain ranges east of the Sierra Nevada, holds such lengthy and
detailed chronologies of past changes and events.

Sequoias and their surrounding ecosystems provide a context for
understanding ongoing environmental changes. For example, a century of
fire suppression has led to an unprecedented failure in sequoia
reproduction in otherwise undisturbed groves. Climatic change also has
influenced the sequoia groves; their present highly disjunct
distribution is at least partly due to generally higher summertime
temperatures and prolonged summer droughts in California from about
10,000 to 4,500 years ago. During that period, sequoias were rarer than
today. Only following a slight cooling and shortening of summer
droughts, about 4,500 years ago, has the sequoia been able to spread and
create today's groves.

These giant sequoia groves and the surrounding forest provide an
excellent opportunity to understand the consequences of different
approaches to forest restoration. These forests need restoration to
counteract the effects of a century of fire suppression and logging.
Fire suppression has caused forests to become denser in many areas, with
increased dominance of shade-tolerant species. Woody debris has
accumulated, causing an unprecedented buildup of surface fuels. One of
the most immediate consequences of these changes is an increased hazard
of wildfires of a severity that was rarely encountered in
pre-Euroamerican times. Outstanding opportunities exist for studying
the consequences of different approaches to mitigating these conditions
and restoring natural forest resilience.

The great elevational range of the monument embraces a number of
climatic zones, providing habitats for an extraordinary diversity of
plant species and communities. The monument is rich in rare plants and
is home to more than 200 plant species endemic to the southern Sierra
Nevada mountain range, arrayed in plant communities ranging from
low-elevation oak woodlands and chaparral to high-elevation subalpine
forest. Numerous meadows and streams provide an interconnected web of
habitats for moisture-loving species.

This spectrum of interconnected vegetation types provides essential
habitat for wildlife, ranging from large, charismatic animals to less
visible and less familiar forms of life, such as fungi and insects. The
mid-elevation forests are dominated by massive conifers arrayed in a
complex landscape mosaic, providing one of the last refugia for the
Pacific fisher in California. The fisher appears to have been
extirpated from the northern Sierra Nevada mountain range. The forests
of the monument are also home to great gray owl, American marten,
northern goshawk, peregrine falcon, spotted owl, and a number of rare
amphibians. The giant sequoias themselves are the only known trees
large enough to provide nesting cavities for the California condor,
which otherwise must nest on cliff faces. In fact, the last pair of
condors breeding in the wild was discovered in a giant sequoia that is
part of the new monument. The monument's giant sequoia ecosystem
remains available for the return and study of condors.

The physiography and geology of the monument have been shaped by
millions of years of intensive uplift, erosion, volcanism, and
glaciation. The monument is dominated by granitic rocks, most
noticeable as domes and spires in areas such as the Needles. The
magnificent Kern Canyon forms the eastern boundary of the monument's
southern unit. The canyon follows an ancient fault, forming the only
major north-south river drainage in the Sierra Nevada. Remnants of
volcanism are expressed as hot springs and soda springs in some

Particularly in the northern unit of the monument, limestone
outcrops, remnants of an ancient seabed, are noted for their caves.
Subfossil vegetation entombed within ancient woodrat middens in these
caves has provided the only direct evidence of where giant sequoias grew
during the Pleistocene Era, and documents substantial vegetation changes
over the last 50,000 or more years. Vertebrate fossils also have been
found within the middens. Other paleontological resources are found in
meadow sediments, which hold detailed records of the last 10 millennia
of changing vegetation, fire regimes, and volcanism in the Sierra
Nevada. The multi-millennial, annual- and seasonal-resolution records
of past fire regimes held in giant sequoia tree-rings are unique

During the past 8,000 years, Native American peoples of the Sierra
Nevada have lived by hunting and fishing, gathering, and trading with
other people throughout the region. Archaeological sites such as lithic
scatters, food-processing sites, rock shelters, village sites,
petroglyphs, and pictographs are found in the monument. These sites
have the potential to shed light on the roles of prehistoric peoples,
including the role they played in shaping the ecosystems on which they

One of the earliest recorded references to giant sequoias is found
in the notes of the Walker Expedition of 1833, which described "trees of
the redwood species, incredibly large...." The world became aware of
giant sequoias when sections of the massive trees were transported east
and displayed as curiosities for eastern audiences. Logging of giant
sequoias throughout the Sierra Nevada mountain range began in 1856.
Logging has continued intermittently to this day on nonfederal lands
within the area of the monument. Early entrepreneurs, seeing profit in
the gigantic trees, began acquiring lands within the present monument
under the Timber and Stone Act in the 1880s. Today our understanding of
the history of the Hume Lake and Converse Basin areas of the monument is
supported by a treasure trove of historical photographs and other
documentation. These records provide a unique and unusually clear
picture of more than half a century of logging that resulted in the
virtual removal of most forest in some areas of the monument.
Outstanding opportunities exist for studying forest resilience to
large-scale logging and the consequences of different approaches to
forest restoration.

Section 2 of the Act of June 8, 1906 (34 Stat. 225, 16 U.S.C. 431)
authorizes the President, in his discretion, to declare by public
proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures,
and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated
upon lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to
be national monuments, and to reserve as a part thereof parcels of land,
the limits of which in all cases, shall be confined to the smallest area
compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be

WHEREAS it appears that it would be in the public interest to
reserve such lands as a national monument to be known as the Giant
Sequoia National Monument:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United
States of America, by the authority vested in me by section 2 of the Act
of June 8, 1906 (34 Stat. 225, 16 U.S.C. 431), do proclaim that there
are hereby set apart and reserved as the Giant Sequoia National
Monument, for the purpose of protecting the objects identified in the
above preceding paragraphs, all lands and interests in lands owned or
controlled by the United States within the boundaries of the area
described on the map entitled "Proposed Giant Sequoia National Monument"
attached to and forming a part of this proclamation. The Federal land
and interests in land reserved consist of approximately 327,769 acres,
which is the smallest area compatible with the proper care and
management of the objects to be protected as identified in the above
preceding paragraphs.

All Federal lands and interests in lands within the boundaries of
this monument are hereby appropriated and withdrawn from entry,
location, selection, sale, leasing, or other disposition under the
public land laws including, but not limited to, withdrawal from
locating, entry, and patent under the mining laws and from disposition
under all laws relating to mineral and geothermal leasing, other than by
exchange that furthers the protective purposes of the monument. Lands
and interests in lands within the boundaries of the monument not owned
by the United States shall be reserved as a part of the monument upon
acquisition of title thereto by the United States.

The establishment of this monument is subject to valid existing

Timber sales under contract as of the date of the proclamation and
timber sales with a decision notice signed after January 1, 1999, but
prior to December 31, 1999, may be completed consistent with the terms
of the decision notice and contract. No portion of the monument shall
be considered to be suited for timber production, and no part of the
monument shall be used in a calculation or provision of a sustained
yield of timber from the Sequoia National Forest. Removal of trees,
except for personal use fuel wood, from within the monument area may
take place only if clearly needed for ecological restoration and
maintenance or public safety.

The Secretary of Agriculture shall manage the monument, along with
the underlying Forest, through the Forest Service, pursuant to
applicable legal authorities, to implement the purposes and provisions
of this proclamation. The Secretary of Agriculture shall prepare,
within 3 years of this date, a management plan for this monument, and
shall promulgate such regulations for its management as deemed
appropriate. The plan will provide for and encourage continued public
and recreational access and use consistent with the purposes of the

Unique scientific and ecological issues are involved in management
of giant sequoia groves, including groves located in nearby and adjacent
lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park
Service. The Secretary, in consultation with the National Academy of
Sciences, shall appoint a Scientific Advisory Board to provide
scientific guidance during the development of the initial management
plan. Board membership shall represent a range of scientific
disciplines pertaining to the objects to be protected, including, but
not necessarily limited to, the physical, biological, and social

The Secretary, through the Forest Service, shall, in developing any
management plans and any management rules and regulations governing the
monument, consult with the Secretary of the Interior, through the Bureau
of Land Management and the National Park Service. The final decision to
issue any management plans and any management rules and regulations
rests with the Secretary of Agriculture. Management plans or rules and
regulations developed by the Secretary of the Interior governing uses
within national parks or other national monuments administered by the
Secretary of the Interior shall not apply within the Giant Sequoia
National Monument.

The management plan shall contain a transportation plan for the
monument that provides for visitor enjoyment and understanding about the
scientific and historic objects in the monument, consistent with their
protection. For the purposes of protecting the objects included in the
monument, motorized vehicle use will be permitted only on designated
roads, and non-motorized mechanized vehicle use will be permitted only
on designated roads and trails, except for emergency or authorized
administrative purposes or to provide access for persons with
disabilities. No new roads or trails will be authorized within the
monument except to further the purposes of the monument. Prior to the
issuance of the management plan, existing roads and trails may be closed
or altered to protect the objects of interest in the monument, and
motorized vehicle use will be permitted on trails until but not after
December 31, 2000.

Nothing in this proclamation shall be deemed to diminish or enlarge
the jurisdiction of the State of California with respect to fish and
wildlife management.

There is hereby reserved, as of the date of this proclamation and
subject to valid existing rights, a quantity of water sufficient to
fulfill the purposes for which this monument is established. Nothing in
this reservation shall be construed as a relinquishment or reduction of
any water use or rights reserved or appropriated by the United States on
or before the date of this proclamation.

Laws, regulations, and policies pertaining to administration by the
Department of Agriculture of grazing permits and timber sales under
contract as of the date of this proclamation on National Forest System
lands within the boundaries of the monument shall continue to apply to
lands within the monument.

Nothing in this proclamation shall be deemed to affect existing
special use authorizations; existing uses shall be governed by
applicable laws, regulations, and management plans.

Nothing in this proclamation shall be deemed to revoke any existing
withdrawal, reservation, or appropriation; however, the national
monument shall be the dominant reservation.

Warning is hereby given to all unauthorized persons not to
appropriate, injure, destroy, or remove any feature of this monument and
not to locate or settle upon any of the lands thereof.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day
of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand, and of the Independence
of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-fourth.


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