Valley Voices

Call to action: Defend our Giant Sequoia, Carrizo monuments

Giant Sequoias National Monument in Tulare County needs protection.
Giant Sequoias National Monument in Tulare County needs protection. Contributed by Sequoia Riverlands Trust.

An attack on one monument is an attack on all monuments, and San Joaquin Valley residents are standing strong against the Trump administration to defend the Giant Sequoia and Carrizo Plain national monuments in our region – and, indeed, all monuments across the country.

Valley conservation organizations such as Save the Redwoods League, WildPlaces, The Nature Conservancy and Sequoia Riverlands Trust are joining forces in response to President Trump’s executive order to review national monuments.

This directive is an attack on America’s public lands legacy and our native and cultural heritage. Their alteration or demise will hurt surrounding communities and small businesses that have come to rely on the economic benefits that result from proximity to these places. Outdoor recreation alone drives an $887 billion economy and supports 7.6 million jobs.

Giant Sequoia is home to the largest trees on the planet, and Carrizo Plain attracted thousands to this year’s “super bloom.”

The monuments are incredibly popular recreation destinations for San Joaquin Valley residents and tourists alike. They protect local and cultural heritage, serve as outdoor scientific research labs, and drive tourism and outdoor recreation.

All those things support jobs, and the monuments’ inspired establishment via President Teddy Roosevelt’s Antiquities Act of 1906 resulted from years of research and public input.

Numerous studies have shown that communities near monuments and other protected public lands have stronger economies, and that access to the outdoor and recreational opportunities they provide increases residents’ quality of life.

Those factors make areas near monuments more attractive to new residents, and that bolsters surrounding property values – all of which inspires more investment by entrepreneurs and small businesses.

The Giant Sequoia National Monument preserves what is a narrow band of the world’s only stand of giant sequoias, the largest tree on earth. The sequoias live within a 60-mile zone that is increasingly imperiled by climate change. These magnificent trees and the many animal and plant species that thrive within their habitat deserve greater protection, not less.

Since 1906, the Antiquities Act has been used on a bipartisan basis by the majority of U.S. presidents (16; eight Republicans and eight Democrats) to protect America’s most iconic natural, cultural and historic places.

The widespread diversity of historic, cultural, and natural treasures that have been protected by the Antiquities Act is why groups representing sportsmen, cultural heritage organizations, evangelicals, conservation, recreation businesses, historic preservation and many others oppose efforts to undermine this vital law.

A 2014 Hart Research poll showed that 90 percent of voters supported presidential proposals to protect some public lands and waters as parks, wildlife refuges and wilderness. And in the 2017 Conservation in the West poll, only 13 percent of western voters supported removing protections for existing monuments while 80 percent supported keeping them in place.

Giant Sequoia in Tulare County and Carrizo Plain in Kern County were established to ensure these awe-inspiring landscapes were passed down to future generations. No president has ever revoked a monument, even where initial disagreement resulted from their creation.

Please do your part to ensure our region’s monuments remain whole by contacting your congressional representatives. To leave your comment in support of our national monuments or to learn more, please visit monumentsforall.org. Deadline for public comment is July 10 so please act now.

Sequoia Riverlands Trust is a regional nonprofit land trust dedicated to strengthening California’s heartland and the natural and agricultural legacy of the southern Sierra Nevada and San Joaquin Valley. The wealth, productivity and beauty of this land inspire our work to conserve it for future generations.

Sopac McCarthy Mulholland is president and CEO of Sequoia Riverlands Trust. Connect with her at (559) 738-0211, extension 101, or soapy@sequoiariverlands.org.

Save our monuments

Action: Contact your congressional representatives to support our monuments.

Deadline: July 10

Details: monumentsforall.org

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