Washington, D.C. – Today, Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23), Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52), House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (AR-04), Congressman Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), and Congressman Tom McClintock (CA-04) held a press conference on their bill, the Save Our Sequoias (SOS) Act.
The bipartisan Save Our Sequoias (SOS) Act is a comprehensive bill that immediately addresses the imminent threats facing one of the most iconic tree species on the planet – Giant Sequoias – by improving interagency coordination, utilizing robust scientific analysis to triage high-priority areas, codifying and streamlining emergency procedures to expedite environmental reviews, and providing land managers with critical new tools and resources.
Giant Sequoias live for thousands of years, and in their natural habitats, these trees historically only die because they become so large that they topple over.
Recently, these trees have been ravaged by California’s annual wildfire season, exacerbated by extreme drought due to misguided policies and regulations that have resulted in decades of inadequate forest management. In many places, Giant Sequoia cones, like the one pictured below, are all that is left.
This is a crisis.
Highlights of the press conference are below, or you can watch it in its entirety here.
“We are here today to announce a bill we introduced yesterday about saving our Sequoias,” said Leader McCarthy.
“These wonders live for thousands of years, and in their natural habitats, the only way that they die is that they become so large they topple over.
“You know prior to three years ago, the only historical record we had of a fire destroying a Giant Sequoia was in 1297, but in the last three years, almost 20% of the Giant Sequoias have been destroyed by fires…
“If we do nothing, we can lose them all…”
“We must act now to ensure that we save them for future generations”
Below are key takeaways from Members in attendance:
Representative Scott Peters (CA-52), leading co-sponsor: “I appreciate Leader McCarthy and Ranking Member Westerman’s collaboration on this important bill. And if you are looking for an example of committed bipartisanship in these times, this is it…After months of negotiations and engagement with land managers, environmentalists, industry representatives, tribal partners, state and local officials, and California and Sequoia experts, we crafted a comprehensive bipartisan bill that meets the scale of crisis.”
Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (AR-04): “I’m from Arkansas, a long ways from California, but these groves have a lot of special meaning to me and to all Americans. So I am thrilled that we’re here today working on bipartisan legislation…We’re trying to bring everyone to the table, get input, have a very focused goal, specifically on these Sequoia Groves, and we’re going to make a difference here.”
Representative Jimmy Panetta (CA-20): “The conditions of our forests [in California] have reached record levels of dryness…making them so vulnerable that they can absolutely explode with just a single spark…We must act now. I’m proud to be an original cosponsor to save these ancient magnificent trees by using science-based management to remove the dead, dying and dry fuels.”
Representative Tom McClintock (CA-04): “Either we carry excess timber out of the forest, or nature will burn it out of the forest…Our forests have become morbidly overgrown…and nature is again gardening by fire…I am pleased to join Leader McCarthy and my colleagues in this effort to save our precious sequoias for future generations.”