Support for Southern Roadless Areas

This is the latest effort from the southern Sierra GSNM Coalition to gain traction in protecting wilderness....

Re:       Support for Southern Sierra Draft Roadless Areas Proposal

This is the latest effort from the southern Sierra GSNM Coalition to gain traction

Dear Forest Supervisors Gould and Carlson: 

We support the attached proposal to protect roadless lands in the revised forest plans for the Sierra and Sequoia National Forests. This proposal would protect five priority Recommended Wilderness Areas (RWAs) on each forest and also apply a protective Backcountry Management Area (BMA) designation to over 100 additional areas shown in the attached maps and GIS data. We urge you to include this proposal in the preferred alternative in the 2018 Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the revised forest plans Sierra and Sequoia National Forests. 

Protecting roadless lands is a critical planning strategy for maintaining ecological and scenic integrity across the most pristine portions of the landscape. This mixture of designations would effectively protect ecosystems currently underrepresented in the National Wilderness Preservation System, as well as human-powered recreation opportunities across both forests. The conservation community is currently incorporating feedback from other forest stakeholders into the RWA boundaries, which will minimize stakeholder conflict and add collaborative support for these designations

We ask that you take advantage of this once-in-a-generation planning opportunity to ensure that these forests roadless and wilderness values are maintained over the life of the revised plans. 

Thank you.


Sierra Forest Legacy

Friends of the River

California Wilderness Coalition

The Wilderness Society



Rob Bishop and the No New Parks Bill (H.R 3990)

Rob Bishop’s ‘No New Parks’ Bill


Background: On Wednesday, Rep. Rob Bishop, Chairman of the House Natural Resources

Committee, will hold a full committee markup of his anti-conservation, anti-sportsmen, anti-science bill (H.R. 3990) that would cripple the authority of the Antiquities Act.


A Radical Vision: This is the most aggressive legislative attack on the Antiquities Act we

have seen.  It goes hand in hand with the Trump Administration’s ongoing attempt to sell

out national monuments to the highest bidder.


  • This is a no new parks bill, plain and simple. It will undermine the conservation legacy of 16 presidents - both Republican and Democrat - to protect America's cultural and natural heritage. This attack on America's most spectacular lands and waters will not proceed without a fight.

  • This bill is even more radical that all of the past failed attempts to gut the Antiquities Act advanced by Rep. Bishop and other members of the anti-parks caucus.  Americans love their public lands, and this bill deserves a similarly resounding defeat.

  • The bill would block presidents from using the Antiquities Act of 1906 to establish new national monuments by:

    • Drastically narrowing the definition of what is deserving of protection to focus on fossils, skeletons, artifacts and buildings (ruling out considerations for science, geography, wildlife and other natural objects);

    • Putting arbitrary acreage caps on the size of monuments;

    • Prohibiting national monuments to protect oceans;

    • Giving Presidents the authority to erase vast portions of existing national monuments (an authority the President does not currently have); and

    • Forcing the local communities and federal workers to engage in an ironic exercise of wasted time and money to reviewing the environmental impacts of protecting lands for future generations.


  • If Bishop’s vision for the Antiquities Act had been applied since the law was signed in 1906, many of the national parks and monuments we enjoy today would not exist.

    • The Antiquities Act is responsible for nearly 50 percent of all national parks in the United States, many of which would never have been set aside under this bill.

      • Teddy Roosevelt could not have designated the Grand Canyon, Devil’s Tower, or Muir Woods.   

      • National parks like Acadia, Grand Teton, Arches and Olympic would likely not have been protected - leaving them open to damaging development.

      • Upper Missouri River Breaks in Montana, a national monument affirmed by Secretary Zinke, would be left unprotected as well.


Table for One? Bishop’s bill is not only out of step with what Americans want, but it also

undermines the recommendations in Secretary Zinke’s leaked report on national


  • As the Trump Administration’s national monuments review has demonstrated, Americans overwhelmingly oppose attacks on national parks, public lands and waters.

    • More than 2.8 million people weighed in during the Interior Department 60-day comment period - a record-breaking response.  More than 99% of all comments received expressed support for maintaining/expanding national monuments.

    • If Congress moves forward with this legislation, it will be ignoring the vast majority of Americans who want to see their public lands and waters protected for future generations.

  • Importantly, Bishop’s bill makes clear that the President does not currently have the authority to reduce existing national monument boundaries (a view in line with leading public lands legal experts).  

    • The bill undercuts Zinke’s recommendations that suggest the President can, for example, use his authority to essentially wipe Bears Ears off the map.

    • Bishop’s legislation also strays from the Trump Administration’s agenda by making illegal Zinke’s suggestions that places like Badger Two Medicine or Camp Nelson are deserving of protection.

  • By ignoring the importance of protecting wildlife habitat, Bishop’s bill is inherently anti-sportsmen and at odds with Sec. Zinke’s claims that he supports hunting and fishing on public lands.

This represents a de facto “No New Parks” policy.

  • Over the past several years, Congress has an abysmal track record of passing legislation to protect new public lands:

    • Congressional deadlock has brought public lands legislation to a halt.  After the Omnibus Public Land Management Act in 2009, it took five years before another public lands designation was passed - the longest period of congressional inaction on Wilderness protection in nearly 50 years.  Only a handful of public lands bills have reached the President’s desk since then.

    • Despite dozens of conservation proposals before Congress – many supported by Democrats and Republicans – Congress has been unable to pass legislation that would protect important lands across the country and help grow our economy.

  • Coupled with Congress’s inaction, Bishop’s radical bill becomes an endorsement of a de facto “no more national parks” policy in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    • Not satisfied with blocking all new conservation legislation in his own committee, Bishop wants to extend this blockade to the executive branch by ending the over a century of progress on national monument designations.


Fighting Fire with Fire

Fighting Fire with Fire: A Case for Giant Sequoia and Community Protection


Today, I want to express my deepest concerns and sympathy for residents in the mountain communities experiencing the Pier Wildfire. As a wildlands resident for 15 years and recent Pier Fire refugee, I want to extend gratitude to the teams of volunteers and professionals who responded to a wildfire that remains completely unpredictable. At times, this fire almost outwitted our crews…almost. These heroes have worked tirelessly to keep communities safe while maintaining ecological health in the Giant Sequoia National Monument and Sequoia National Forest-- exactly as the 2012 Giant Sequoia Management Plan intended .

It’s critical to understand that when Giant Sequoia received its national monument designation, it was done with thoughtful consideration to wildfire risk. Its management plan specifically supports a number of fuels reduction activities-- including prescribed burns, managed wildfires, fuel reduction by hand, fuel reduction by mechanical treatment and removal of felled trees. These actions include both public safety and ecological benefits. The plan even allows timber removal if it cannot serve an ecological purpose for the forest. This carefully-crafted management plan is the best option for a healthy and safe Giant Sequoia system. In fact, for all practical purposes, this is the only plan that is demonstrable and fully-approved. Unfortunately, it’s still barely funded. This is a huge concern for community safety and habitat health. 

With climate revealing patterns of more wildfires and increased devastation severity, we need to address a time-sensitive and grave concern-- how we shift away from expensive and dangerous wildfire responses toward better prevention that deals with fuels ahead of disaster and danger. It’s about personal responsibility paired with the use of this strategic management plan-- one that doesn’t create scenarios of more severe, future devastation.  

Forest Supervisor Kevin Elliott acknowledges that the current management plan successfully restores and manages 33 giant sequoia groves. Its tactics provide healthy watersheds, homes for unique wildlife and unparalleled recreation opportunities for Americans.  Any reduction in size, status, or protection of the Giant Sequoia National Monument scraps years of efforts placed in this cohesive, collaborative management effort-- one attempting to actively reduce the threat of wildfire.  

Certainly, it will take a deliberate effort to educate communities about wildfire safety and benefits of natural fire. For starters, a key difference between the natural fires that have shaped Sierra Forests for thousands of years and modern megafires is that a much higher percentage of many modern fires burn at a high severity. Most modern fires are extremely hot-- killing even the larger old trees. In contrast, natural fires burn at a mix of low, moderate, and high severities, creating  plant communities of varying height, size and densities. This would naturally limit the spread of dangerous megafires while providing a mix of benefits to the forest. The careful use of fire is a necessary part of the mix-- keeping California landscapes fire resilient and health for our children and safe for those of us living in it. And that’s just scientific fact.   

We further need to debunk the myth of clearcutting or harvesting large trees  as a solution. According to CalFire, over 48% of the logged Sequoia National Forest has burned at least once in comparison to just 25.3% of the unlogged Giant Sequoia monument.  In the same recorded period, only 3% of Sequoia National Park burned in places where they prohibited logging entirely.  Chopping large trees and old growth forests is not the solution to reducing wildfire risk. These types of species have less surface area. They’re naturally fire-resistant and do not ignite as easily. 

In fact, logging leaves behind fine woody material and dry leaves on the ground-- opening up the canopy which encourages the growth of sun-loving shrubs and consequently decreases humidity. This spikes megafire risk. When the trees are chopped, it leaves lighter grass and shrubs-- causing fire to move across the landscape faster. The 2016 Erskine Fire started this way. With the influence of exceptionally high winds, it destroyed over 285 homes long before it crested the Piute Mountains and burned any of the forest ecosystem. 

Misinformed politics, slashing conservation budgets and reducing protections to the Giant Sequoia National Monument only moves us backward. In the short term, fire prevention dollars should be focused on areas where people live and work. The U.S. Forest Service cannot sustain robbing Peter to pay Paul-- transferring money from conservation efforts to wildfire suppression. It puts communities in danger when they need emergency suppression funds while also undermining sustainable management practices.  The long-term safety of our communities relies on carrying out the Giant Sequoia Management Plan-- ensuring forests are healthy while reducing air pollution and climate disruption. Giant Sequoia National Monument needs better funding for fire management - not a reduction in size - to make the landscape fire resilient.

9/2/17 The Pier WildFire: Saving Lives, Property, and the Truth

Today in the Giant Sequoia National Monument, we are concerned about the potential for homes being lost and the safety of the residents of the mountain communities threatened by the Pier Wildfire. There is a large interagency response at the helm and certainly the track record of these heroes speaks for itself. Thank you, Calfire, Tulare County, USFS, Region 5 Interagency Command, and the volunteer firefighters who are all standing between the fie and the communities where, for 16 years now,  I live and love.

After the fire is contained, it is critical that we work to keep families safe and reduce risk for communities. The area's national monument status will not affect the ability of firefighters to protect families and property. California is a fire-prone state. Fire is a natural process and plays an important role in keeping forests healthy and creating new wildlife habitat. Fire officials for the Forest Service work with fire to reduce the risk to people and property.

The following are excerpts from "Talking Points About Fire" (Giant Sequoia Defense Organizers)

Fire behavior is contingent upon local conditions and habitats, so a “one-size-fits-all” prescription cannot be the answer.
However, in the short term fire prevention dollars should be focused on areas where people live and work. The Forest Service needs to secure additional independent federal funding to reduce fire risk in this Wildland Urban Intermix (WUI).

The long-term safety of our communities relies on better forest management to ensure forests are healthy, and reducing climate pollution to fight climate disruption. This includes the maintenance of national monument protections for all of Giant Sequoia National Monument.

The 2012 Giant Sequoia National Monument Management Plan specifically supports a number of fuels reduction activities, including prescribed burns; managed wildfire; fuel reduction by hand; fuel reduction by mechanical treatment (for ecological restoration or public safety); and removal of felled trees (for ecological restoration or public safety). The management plan may allow for resale of the timber removed if it cannot serve an ecological purpose in the monument.

Researchers have discovered that Giant Sequoia and related coast redwood forests store more climate-altering carbon pollution per acre than any other forest type on Earth.
The monument was proclaimed in 2000. Using complete annual CalFire data for the years 2000-2016 over 48% of the logged Sequoia National Forest has burned at least once while just 25.3% of the unlogged Monument has burned. In this same period 3% of Sequoia National Park where zero logging is allowed has burned.

Logging big trees is not the solution to reducing wildfire risk. Large older trees have less surface area causing them to be naturally fire-resistant and less of a fire risk.
Logging leaves behind fine woody material and dry leaves on the ground, opens up the canopy, which encourages the growth of sun-loving shrubs while decreasing humidity in the forest, and making fire conditions worse.

Light flashy fuel such as grass and shrubs cause fire to move across the landscape faster than heavier forest fuel. The Erskine Fire in 2016 started in light fuel during exceptionally high winds destroying over 285 homes long before the fire crested the Piute Mountains and burned any of the forest ecosystem.

Disrupting the natural fire regime through fire suppression has made forests more flammable. The careful use of fire is a necessary part of the mix to keep California landscapes fire resilient. In Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks, a landscape nearly identical to the Monument, prescribed fire has been successfully used to reduce fire intensity and risk.

Thanks. Mehmet



Communities voice strong support for protecting our Giant Sequoia National Monument - Tulare County Ignores public opinion

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Art Rodriguez, WildPlaces

Communities voice strong support for protecting our Giant Sequoia National Monument.
Tulare County Ignores local cities which strongly oppose the plan to dramatically reduce the boundaries of the monument.

VISALIA, CA -- Today, Tulare County Board of Supervisors voted (3-2) to approve a letter calling for the reduction of the Giant Sequoia National Monument (GSNM) boundaries. The move was pushed by supervisor Steve Worthley, a former logging industry executive with a history of suing the U.S. Forest Service over the GSNM and a stated desire to open the protected forest to logging. Public testimony was unanimously opposed to the letter and any reductions to the GSNM.

“We've already lost so much of our forest-this is some of our last. When we take youth from the Central Valley to the Giant Sequoias as part of pur programs, kids that otherwise aren't keeping up in schools excel in place-based learning in nature. These forests are a source of life, water, clean air and spiritual sustenance for our Central Valley communities, and the world. Resource extraction is not a solution,” said Art Rodriquez of WildPlaces.

Public opposition to reducing GSNM boundaries led Kern County to drop consideration of a similar measure and the City of Porterville, a gateway community, when given a similar resolution, chose to instead approve a letter supporting the monument and asking for more funding for management and tourism.

“It’s clear that the community supports Giant Sequoia National Monument and wants to see it exist in the future. Cutting two-thirds of Giant Sequoia is a bad move for our giants, the ecosystem that maintains the giants, and our future,” said Sarah Friedman of the Sierra Club.


Climate Change, Water Inequity, and Reverance for Nature

Mehmet McMillan, from the community of Springville, CA, speaks about the condition of our Sierra headwaters and the implications within our town of East Porterville, CA. The Climate Change Project for the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), collected interviews of people about their experiences with climate change for a traveling exhibit that UCAR is organizing. Here's Mehmet's pitch:

(BTW. Clarisse the Climate Cow pictured here is not officially part of the UCAR climate project, but she is important nonetheless.)

In Our Own Backyard . . .

WildPlaces is a community benefit organization dedicated to the stewardship of the Southern Sierra Nevada which includes the Giant Sequoia National Monument. The 45th president of the US of A and his administration is proposing a major reduction of one of our most valued treasures, the Sequoiadendron giganteum aka Giant Sequoia. Currently there are three-hundred and twenty thousand acres of national monument, two-hundred and thirty thousand of which are proposed to no longer have the resource protections offered with a monument designation.

Many believe this is a start of a plan, to open up the forest for the privatization of our resources and to commence unsustainable logging techniques. We also understand it is important to protect what so many before us worked hard to protect. "We will see the same unsustainable, destructive extraction practices seen elsewhere as this administration dismantles California's natural legacy," explained Mehmet McMillan of WildPlaces, as he was describing how forest mismanagement will hurt our ecosystems for hundreds of years.

The Giant Sequoia National Monument is home to hundreds of species both flora and fauna. The mountain yellow-legged frog, Kern River Golden Trout, and Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, all of which are endangered species. Recovery efforts are now underway for them. Taking away protection, directly threatens the very existence of these species, not to mention the many more located throughout the country. Recovery efforts for a species, require large amounts of resources, with a marginal chance of success when its ecosystem is intact. Removing protections is like driving the nail in the coffin for these creatures.

WildPlaces made it possible for over one thousand volunteers and voters to protect these lands and rivers. Protecting our upland water sheds and its ecosystems are essential for the longevity of our natural resources. "You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see how important it is to protect our rivers," states Art Rodriguez- Director at Poplar Community Services District. Common question raised by those community members is of what are the benefits of removing monument designation" Who benefits? 

The Giant Sequoia Monument is one of the few places in Tulare County people travel around the world to see. The economical impact on one of the poorest counties in the nation, could be devastating for those business owners who struggled to make ends meet.

The City of Porterville is the nearest population center to the Giant Sequoia National Monument. In a recent article, Porterville City Council will vote to adopt a resolution in which it will support the removal of protections to our forest. The special city council meeting will be this Tuesday June 13th at 5:30 pm in Porterville's City Hall.

"The resolution will reinforce the justification of drastic reduction in federal funding, which protects our natural resources." J.D.

On Wilderness and Outliving the Bastards

As WildPlaces' Sequoia Roots Restoration Corp comes to its graduation at Wilderness Ranger Academy, we are inspired, moved, and better prepared to do the job we're designed to do. One of the final sessions is on self-care in the wilderness. It reminds me of Ed Abbey and something we proclaim about how we would rather climb a tree than a corporate ladder . . .

"One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourself out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast . . . a part time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it is still there. So get out there and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains. Run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space.

Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to your body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those deskbound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. 

I promise you this: you will outlive the bastards."

-Ed Abbey

"Be a Water Warrior" Essay Contest

Wild Waterways — Community Rivers Project — Essay Contest for First Graders

WildPlaces, invites all the First graders of Porterville School district  to be a “Be a Water Warrior”.  Students should complete essays in class. WP will collect essays, select finalists according to the grade appropriate rubric, and WP Advisory Board members would select the two co-winners. Each winner will win a bicycle.

WildPlaces will publish the winners in the local newspapers with the announcement of an upcoming community WP hosted event.

Support information and a story frame packets are included in each teacher packet.

WildPlaces is a community benefits 501c3 organization based in Springville, California and working in Kern, Tulare, and Fresno Counties. We have a 15-year history of stewardship of land, water, and communities. We are aware of the need to take direct action in protecting natural resources through place-based projects, outreach and education our communities.

WildLeaders Training

May 13-14, 2017

WildPlaces' staff, new volunteer recruits, and Program Leaders attend this two-day workshop and receive specific site/field training to ensure safety and program impact. Basic first aid, media, communications, volunteer management, and emergency response/risk management are emphasiszed. Held on the Tule River in Springville, particiapants will camp, cook together, and understand WP policy and vision. This is free of charge and all food is provided.

Friday, May 12th

Participants are encouraged to arrive Friday before training. Food will be ready for late arrivals. Camping is free and beautiful at the training site.

Saturday, May 13th

8-9am: Group Prepared Breakfast/Registration

9-9:30am: WildPlaces Overview and the summer calendar

9:30-11:30am: Risk Managment and WP Policy workshop will describe how to handle potentially scary and dangerous field situations, group dynamics, communications and consider what options are available to you as a WildPlaces' leader.

11:30-12:30pm: Lunch and Break to the River

1:00-4:00 pm River Safety/Intro to Swift Water Rescue : Emergency Scenarios will present possible field emergencies to the group and provide opportunity to practice preparedness in a controlled setting for what might happen in a wild setting and on the river.

4:00 pm: Debrief and Free Time


6:30 pm Supper is Provided

Evening Activity: Fire Building Competition

Sunday, May 14th

Fire Ecology and Wildfire Recovery Project Overview.

WP Summer Events Calendar Review and Sign up

Participants are invited to go on a hike or a bike or relax on the river.


The drownings (three now) on Tule River has tarnished the Kern and Tule Rivers' reputations quite a bit and enforcement agencies will close many sites including many of the free sites above and below "The Stairs" that WP has adopted over the years. Prior to the drownings, our position in light of increased use on the river and environmental impacts plus reduced federal budgets was to agree to temporary closure of 1/3 of the sites, allowing WP to oversee the remaining. Now any such discussion about which sites will be closed is out the window.

Now in light of the drownings, WildPlaces will conduct an Introduction to Swift Water Rescue for our volunteers, staff, and the public and will occur on May 13th from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. at the WildLeaders Training in Springville (5/13-14).

See and fb for details and to sign up. Space is limited. THIS IS ONLY AN INTRODUCTION AND CARRIES NO CERTIFICATION UPON COMPLETION.

The WildLeaders Training will also cover basic risk management in field settings, orienteering, and first aid. Cost is free to WildPlaces' volunteers and $10-25 (sliding scale) for all others. Gotta register by reaching Mehmet at 760.447.1702 and