Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla (both D-Calif.) yesterday introduced the Save Our Sequoias Act, a bill that would protect California’s giant sequoias – the largest trees in the world – from the threat of wildfire and expedite future wildfire-resiliency projects.
“California’s iconic giant sequoias are facing new and increasing threats from devastating wildfires,” said Senator Feinstein. “Once considered impervious to wildfires, these resilient trees’ defenses are now tragically being overwhelmed by intensifying fires driven by climate change. An estimated 20 percent of all mature giant sequoias have been destroyed since 2020, and scientists predict that without significant action, another 20 percent could be lost in the next three years. This would be a staggering loss, and it’s imperative that we act now to save one of the world’s most majestic and treasured species.”
“For millennia, Sequoia trees have been a hallmark of California’s rich natural heritage. But increasingly long, dry, and catastrophic wildfire seasons are putting them at serious risk,” said Senator Alex Padilla. “We must work collaboratively to protect these California icons from the threat of climate change and make sure they are preserved for generations to come.”
The Save Our Sequoias Act would:
- Codify the Giant Sequoia Lands Coalition – an existing group of public land managers with jurisdiction over sequoia groves – and require it to submit to Congress a Giant Sequoia Health and Resiliency Assessment within 180 days of its first meeting.
- Require the secretaries of interior and agriculture to work with the coalition and other relevant stakeholders to develop and implement a strategy to enhance the reforestation and rehabilitation of giant sequoia groves.
- Provide congressional support for the Biden administration’s use of existing emergency authorities to expedite sequoia wildfire-resiliency projects.
- Expand existing environmental review provisions to encompass not only the sequoia groves but also the surrounding territory to prevent wildfires from becoming so massive that they threaten the groves.
- Provide the National Park Service with narrow authority to expedite projects that make sequoia groves more resilient to wildfire, insects or disease.
- Allow the Forest Service and National Park Service to partner with California, Tribal entities, local governments or private entities to conduct sequoia forest management work.
- Establish a grant program through the Department of Interior to support nurseries for growing sequoia seedlings or facilities making use of wood from forest thinning projects.