Trump plan could open Giant Sequoia monument to logging

For the largest living things standing on the planet, California’s giant sequoias have an unassuming, almost gentle aura to them. The recognizable cinnamon-colored bark is soft and fibrous. Its cones are modest. When cut down, the trees tend to shatter and won’t produce reliably sturdy timber.

These majestic plants have a lineage stretching back to the Jurassic period, but fears over their future have prompted a somewhat counter-intuitive plan presented to the Trump administration – in order to save the giant sequoias, some say, their surrounding area must be stripped of protected status.

As part of the Trump administration’s determination to roll back regulation and open public land to private industry, the interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, is currently undertaking a review of more than two dozen national monuments declared since the 1990s. The stated goal of the review is to reboot extractive industries such as mining and logging. Supporters of the Giant Sequoia monument fear a unique ecosystem is at risk from timber industry advocates who would peel back protections.

“If this were a different administration and there was a push by the timber industry and its allies to shrink the monument, I wouldn’t take it too seriously,” said Chad Hanson, a rangy tree ecologist who has agitated for greater sequoia protections for the past two decades. “But the Trump administration? Oh, yeah. We are taking this threat very seriously.”

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