Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today submitted a statement in support of the Save Our Sequoias Act, which received a hearing today before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
The bill, introduced earlier this month by Senators Feinstein and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) would take significant steps to help protect California’s giant sequoias – the largest trees in the world – from the threat of wildfire and expedite future wildfire-resiliency projects. Additional information on the bill is available here.
“Giant sequoias are one of the most iconic plants in the world. The sequoia known as “General Sherman” is the largest tree on Earth at more than 100 feet in circumference and 275 feet tall. These trees are also remarkably fire-adapted, with spongy bark up to two feet thick.
Giant sequoias are only found naturally in the United States, and in fact only in my home state of California. Nevertheless, as many members of this committee know from first-hand experience, they have been a source of reverence and amazement to lovers of nature around the world for many years, including Americans like John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt.
Sequoias were long considered nearly immune to the effects of wildfires, but unfortunately, devastating fires in recent years have overwhelmed even their potent defenses. Officials have estimated that 20 percent of all mature giant sequoias have been lost just since 2020. Scientific research has additionally suggested that without significant action, another 20 percent could be lost in the next three years.
To prevent such a tragedy, 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 develop a strategy to make sequoia groves more resilient to wildfire. It would provide statutory support for the Biden Administration’s emergency declaration that is currently expediting sequoia wildfire resilience projects.
Federal agencies should not be reliant on emergency authorities, however, in order to implement necessary wildfire resilience projects that will become more common in the future. To that end, our bill makes narrow, targeted adjustments to authorize federal agencies to implement sequoia protection projects in the highest wildfire-risk areas. It also authorizes the federal agencies to engage with the local community to conduct these projects, from tree nurseries and wood product companies to local and Tribal governments. Californians have an interest in protecting these magnificent trees, and this bill recognizes their role in providing aid.
Lastly, our bill ensures that we do not simply mitigate future sequoia losses but also begin the process of regrowth. Since sequoias can live to be thousands of years old, it’s never too early to begin rejuvenating these groves.
Giant sequoias are one of the great treasures of the world, not just of California, and their loss in recent years should prompt urgent action.”