September 10, 2019
Act Now to Protect the Sierra and Sequoia National Forests
Comments due by Thursday, September 26, 2019
The U.S. Forest Service is developing management plans for the 2.1 million acres of the Sierra and Sequoia National Forests that will define management of the forests for decades. So far, the plans fall short of the protections the Forests deserve, but it's not too late! They’re taking public comment on the plans until September 26 - now is your chance to speak up.
Take Action! Ask the Forest Service to adopt Alternative C with the changes noted below. Alternative C recommends far more wilderness protection, proposes more acres of forest restored through prescribed and managed fire, better protection for old forest species, meadows and riparian conservation than the Forest Service’s Preferred Alternative (Alternative B).
Comments must be posted by Thursday, 9/26/2019. Comments can be submitted via the electronic comment submission form, by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org (you will need to copy and paste this into your email client), or US mail (Planning Team Leader, Forest Plan Revision, 1323 Club Drive, Vallejo, CA 94592).
See below for a sample letter, but it is best to write your own letter. Additional talking points are posted here. Our website for the plan revisions also contains lots of additional information, including our previous coalition comment letters and more detail on wildlife species needs.
Dear Forest Plan Revision Team,
Thank you for inviting public comments on the draft revised forest plans for the Sierra and Sequoia National Forests. These forests provide innumerable benefits including clean air and water, carbon storage, essential wildlife habitat, and opportunities to experience nature, not only for Californians, but for people all over the world. I feel that the forest plan revision process provides a critical opportunity to protect these benefits for present and future generations. As such, I strongly support Alternative C and provide the following recommendations for each topic area:
Wildlife: The USFS should adopt the plan components in Alternative C for protecting the dense, large structured forests on which species like California spotted owl, fisher, Pacific marten, great gray owl, and northern goshawk depend. These components should include all recommendations from the Fisher Conservation Strategy, including a 24” diameter limit. In meadows, the plans should include the plan components from Alternative C that ensure foraging habitat is provided for reproductive great gray owls, and should add additional standards and guidelines to increase habitat quality in meadows historically occupied by willow flycatcher. Finally, the plans should add additional protections for species considered at-risk by experts and wildlife agencies, such as black-backed woodpecker, western pond turtle, and others not adequately protected by the plans.
Aquatic & Riparian Ecosystems: The USFS should adopt the system of Critical Aquatic Refuges identified in Alternative C, as well as Alternative C’s objectives for restoring meadows. Special aquatic features like meadows, springs, seeps, and fens should be protected from grazing and other activities that impede their recovery. Specifically, the USFS should remove the standard allowing for 20 percent of a fen to be disturbed.
Fire Management: The plans should triple the amount of ecologically beneficial fire (both prescribed fire and wildfires managed for resource benefits) to 279,000 acres over the next 15 years, and should include a realistic plan for increasing the Forests’ capacity to burn.
Wilderness: The Forest Service should recommend all wilderness areas identified in Alternative C, while also adopting Alternative E’s Backcountry Management Area designation for all roadless areas not recommended as wilderness. The highest priority areas on the Sequoia National Forest are the Golden Trout Wilderness Addition, Stormy Canyon, Oat Mountain, Cannell Peak, and the Domeland Wilderness West Addition. The highest priority areas on the Sierra National Forest are the Kings River-Monarch Wilderness Addition, Sycamore Springs, San Joaquin River-Ansel Adams Wilderness Addition, Bear Mountain, and Devil Gulch-Ferguson Ridge. For areas also recommended in Alternative E, the USFS should adopt boundaries developed by conservation groups to reduce conflicts with motorized and mountain bike trails.
Wild & Scenic Rivers: I commend the Sequoia National Forest for its greatly improved Wild & Scenic River evaluation. Simultaneously, I am deeply concerned by the extreme reduction in eligible Wild & Scenic river miles on the Sierra National Forest. The USFS should revisit the Wild & Scenic Evaluation on the Sierra and take a watershed approach to identifying eligible rivers and streams by identifying full streams as eligible rather than disconnected segments. On the Sequoia, the agency should recognize additional eligible rivers including the North Fork, Middle Fork, Tule River, and Rattlesnake Creek (North Fork Kern tributary). On the Sierra, the USFS should recognize additional eligible rivers including all 30+ miles of Dinkey Creek, the lower South Fork San Joaquin, the main San Joaquin below Mammoth Pool and Redinger dams, Granite Creek, and Iron Creek (South Fork Merced tributary).
Old Forests & Complex Early Seral Forests: The plans should adopt the 24” diameter limit in Alternative C and focus forest treatments on the surface and ladder fuels that have the largest influence on fire behavior. The plans should also restrict salvage logging in complex early seral forests and adopt Alternative C’s standards and guidelines for snag recruitment and retention.
Thank you again for the opportunity to comment.
Thank you for taking action!
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Thank you for helping to protect the last remaining wild places of the Sierra Nevada's publicly owned National Forests.
"A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it does otherwise."