Re-establish Tree Seedlings in Sequoia Groves and Adjacent Fisher Habitat, Public Scoping Information shared February 2023
The National Park Service (NPS) is seeking public feedback on a proposal to replant giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) and other mixed conifer seedlings in up to six giant sequoia groves, and in a mixed conifer habitat corridor for the endangered Southern Sierra Nevada distinct population segment of fisher (Pekania pennanti), severely impacted by recent wildfires.
The NPS is planning to prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA), in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, and complete additional analyses and consultations to ensure agency decision-making conforms with all federal resource protection laws.
The NPS is considering action at this time to direct the trajectory of severely burned areas toward forest recovery—as would have occurred naturally had unnaturally high fuel loading (a result of over 100 years of active fire suppression, exacerbated by more recent effects of climate change induced drought) not led to severe fire effects across large, contiguous acres of sequoia groves and other mixed conifer forests during recent wildfires.
Giant sequoia (sequoia) is a fundamental resource for which Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks were established and a primary attribute of the natural quality of wilderness character of the Sequoia and Kings Canyon and John Krebs Wildernesses. In 2020 and 2021, the Castle and KNP Complex (KNP) wildfires together burned 27 NPS managed sequoia groves, six of which included contiguous areas of high severity fire effects where mortality of monarch sequoias occurred at a scope and scale unprecedented in sequoia groves prior to 2020 (see scoping documents for citations).
Action is also being considered at this time in a severely burned habitat corridor for the Southern Sierra Nevada Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of fisher—a federally endangered forest-dependent species increasingly threatened by wildfire-driven habitat loss. Restoration of tree cover in this corridor would speed up the time frame in which some level of connectivity can be recovered—which is important to allow for dispersal of young animals, safe travel between foraging patches, and genetic connectivity in an otherwise disjointed forest habitat for this endangered species.
Under the proposed action, the establishment of seedlings in severely burned areas would mimic natural processes—pointing these groves and habitat corridor toward forest recovery—as they would have done naturally had they not experienced severe fire effects during recent fires. Through the development of site-specific planting plans, the NPS would only consider action in areas where data shows insufficient natural regeneration for forests to successfully re-establish on their own.
Additional information on the proposed action is outlined in the scoping document and FAQs attached below.
HOW TO COMMENT
Public comments on the proposed action will be accepted through midnight March 18, 2023.
During this time, any individual or group can submit comments electronically through the project website (which is the preferred method) or via mail to:
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Attn: Re-Establish Sequoias
47050 Generals Highway
Three Rivers, CA 93271
Comments that provide insights about the project purpose and the park's current proposal are particularly helpful, and new ideas and proposals are welcome. Following the public comment period, the NPS will analyze and consider all feedback and begin preparation of the EA.
The NPS will not select an alternative for implementation until after the analysis of the alternatives and their potential impacts has been completed within the EA and all other analyses or consultations in accordance with other environmental laws have been completed. The NPS anticipates the EA will be available to the public in Summer 2023.
Feb 17, 2023 - Mar 18, 2023