Giant Sequoia National Monument Scientific Advisory Board Adopted Advisories

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Giant Sequoia National Monument

Scientific Advisory Board

Adopted Advisories

Last updated April 17, 2008

(adding last 8 advisories from April, 2003)

Table of Contents

  1. Priority of Objects 3

  2. Eras 4

  3. Desired Conditions 7

  4. Restoration of the Natural Fire Regime 9

  5. Prioritizing Areas of Land 11

  6. Not Posted

  7. Not Posted

  8. Air Quality 13

  9. Undesirable Fire Effects 15

  10. Impairment of Watersheds 17

  11. Sequoia 21

  12. Wildlife 25

  13. Local Markets 28

  14. Reservation Roads 30

  15. Building Consensus 33

  16. Equestrian 36

  17. Transportation Plan 37

  18. Science for the Monument 40

  19. Visitor Data 41

  20. Definition of Treatment 44

  21. Plain Language 45

  22. Heeding Advisories 46

  23. Defense Zone 47

  24. Tradeoffs 50

  25. Watersheds 53

  26. Reasoning 55

  27. Vision, Visualization, and Understanding 57

  28. Decision Tree 59

  29. Monitoring 62

Advisories are presented in the following format:

  • Issue or Question

  • Facts
  • Implications to the Monument

  • Advice

I. Priority of objects.

  • Issue: Given the numerous objects of interest to be protected and/or promoted in the Giant Sequoia National Monument, as noted in the Presidential Proclamation, how should the agency set priorities among the objects to be protected, especially when protection of one object conflicts with another?

  • Facts: Scientists have delineated the range of the Giant Sequoia species, and have discovered key natural elements and objects within the Sequoia's ecosystem. The Giant Sequoia itself can be considered an indicator species for the ecosystem. The purpose of the Monument, as stated clearly in the Presidential Proclamation creating the monument, is to protect the Giant Sequoia and its ecosystem. This must be considered as the top priority in drafting a management plan for the GSNM. However, the proclamation also mentions other objects. It mentions protecting unusual geological formations, such as caves; it also seeks to preserve the historical record, including its use by Native Americans and Euroamericans; finally, the proclamation states that the monument will be open to public/recreational/educational use to the extent consistent with preservation (and natural regeneration) of the Giant Sequoia. Ecosystems science seeks to uncover the interrelationships among all elements within the ecosystem. It is no easy task identifying all the subtle relationships that comprise the whole; nevertheless, the goal is to identify the essential elements that allow for the healthy functioning of the entire ecosystem. Ecosystems management is the applied component of ecosystems science. It uses ecosystems science to manage in a holistic manner, as opposed to one that encourages a single, or dominant, use.

  • Implications for the Giant Sequoia National Monument and its Management: As the designated management agency, the Forest Service is encouraged to continue using ecosystems science to uncover the essential natural, physical, and historic elements within the monument boundaries. Ecosystems management does not allow for rigid, or hard and fast, prioritization of one object over another; rather it seeks to foster diversity and to employ adaptive management. Given the large geographic extent of the monument, it is possible to identify sub-areas, which will allow for different management goals and emphases. However, it must always be kept in mind that the overall purpose of the Monument is the protection of the Giant Sequoia species. This includes its natural regeneration. If a use conflicts with that goal, then it must be reconsidered.
  • Advice: The Forest Service should use ecosystems science as the basis for its management plan for the Giant Sequoia National Monument. Its management plan should be characterized by: interrelatedness of the parts to the whole; fostering the natural diversity of the ecosystem; allowing for public use, education, and enjoyment of the monument to the extent consistent with protection and preservation of the Giant Sequoia species.

End Advisory I

II. Eras

  • Issue: What shall we call the eras before and after the Sequoia Forest changed during the Nineteenth Century?

  • Facts: Pollen records within the present groves show that giant sequoias began to increase dramatically with the onset of a slight global cooling at the end of the Altithermal era thousands of years ago (Antevs 1948, 1955; Anderson 1994, Anderson and Smith 1994). Though pollen records reflect small changes in the proportions of species to the present, the most dramatic changes were completed by about A.D. 900 (Graumlich 1993). From A.D. 900 to 1875, both climate and fire regimes continued to vary (Hughes and Brown 1992, Graumlich 1993, Scuderi 1993, Swetnam 1993).

From 900 AD into the 19111 Century California Indians manipulated the environment with fire to promote vegetation regeneration, for hunting, to capture insects for food, and other activities (Blackburn and Anderson 1993; Anderson and Moratto 1996; Lewis 1973; Bean and Lawton 1973). Indigenous tribes have occupied California for at least 12,000 years (McGuire and Garfinkel 1980; Moratto 1984, Hull and Moratto 1999). They did not suppress natural fires and their intentional burning produced landscapes more open than in the 20th century. Some tribes considered giant sequoias important and to be protected (Powers 1877; reprinted by Heizer 1976: 398). Euroamerican contact, gold rush and settlement in the 19th century ended much tribal manipulation of giant sequoias and other ecosystems.

The loss of fire due to disruption of traditional tribal practices plus subsequent fire suppression profoundly changed the forest. At 68 sites in the parks adjacent to the Monument, the median year of last natural fire was 1875 (Caprio et al. 1997). The year 1875 also roughly corresponds to the time that logging and its effects began to become prevalent in the southern Sierra Nevada (Otter 1963).

Implications for the Monument: For four reasons, ca. A.D. 900- 1875 provides a useful reference period for change (see Stephenson 1999).

  1. Indians used fire to manage the forest;

  2. Logging had not yet become prevalent;

  3. Forest composition (but not necessarily structure) was similar to that of the present; and

  4. Climate, though variable, included periods similar to the recent climate.

Advice: Call the era ca. A.D. 900-1875 of similar climate and Indian use of the forest, "pre-1875". Call the period since that time "post-1875".


Anderson, R.S. 1994 Paleohistory of a giant sequoia grove: the record from Log

Meadow, Sequoia National Park. In P. S. Aune, technical coordinator, Proceedings of the Symposium on Giant Sequoias: Their Place in the Ecosystem and Society, pp. 49-55.23-25 June 1992, Visalia, California. USDA Forest Service General Technical Report PSW -151.

Anderson, M.K. and M.J. Moratto 1996 Native American land use practices and

ecological impacts. In Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project: final report to Congress, Vol. II, assessments and scientific basis for management options, pp. 187-206. Wildlands Resources Center Report No.37, Centers for Water and Wildlands Resources, University of California, Davis, California.

Anderson, R.S. and S.J. Smith 1994 Paleoclimatic interpretations of meadow

sediment and pollen stratigraphies from California. Geology 22:723- 726.

Antevs, E. 1948 Climatic Changes and Pre- White Man. In The Great basin, With

Emphasis on Glacial and Postglacial Times. University of Utah Bulletin 38(20):168-191.

Antevs, E. 1955 Geologic-Climatic Dating in the West. American Antiquity

Bean, L.J. and H. W .Lawton 1973 Some Explanations for the Rise of Cultural

complexity in Native California with Comments on Proto-Agriculture and Agriculture. In H. Lewis, Patterns of Indian Burning in California: Ecology and Ethnohistory,. Ballena Press Anthropological Papers 1, pp. v- xlvii. Ramona, CA.

Blackbum, T.H. and K. Anderson (compilers and editors) 1993 Before the

Wilderness: Environmental Management by Native Californians. Ballena Press, Menlo Park, CA.
Caprio, A., C. Conover, M. Keifer, and P. Lineback 1997 Fire Management and

GIS: A Framework for Identifying and Prioritizing Fire Planning Needs. Presented at Fire in California Ecosystems: Integrating Ecology, Prevention, and Management, Nov. 17-20,1997, San Diego, CA.

Graumlich, L.J. 1993 A 1000-year record of temperature and precipitation in the

Sierra Nevada. Quaternary Research 39:249-255.

Heizer, R.F. (editor) 1976 Tribes of California (by S. Powers; originally printed in

1877). University of California Press, Berkeley.

Hull, K.L. and M.J. Moratto 1999 Archeological Synthesis and Research Design

Yosemite National Park, California. Yosemite Research Center Publications in Anthropology No.21. Yosemite, CA.

Hughes, M.K. and P.M. Brown 1992 Drought frequency in central California

since 101 B.C. recorded in giant sequoia tree rings. Climate Dynamics 6:161-167.

Lewis, H. 1973 Patterns of Indian Burning in California: Ecology and

Ethnohistory .Ballena Press Anthro!2ological Pa!2ers 1, Ramona, CA.

McGuire, K.R. and A.P. Garfinkel 1980 Archaeolot!ical Investigations in the

Southern Sierra Nevada: The Bear Mountain Segment of the Pacific Crest Trail. USDI Bureau of Land Management, Bakersfield, CA.
Moratto, M.J . 1984 California Archaeology .Academic Press, San Francisco, CA.
Otter, F .L. 1963 The Men of Mammoth Forest. Edwards Brothers, Ann Arbor,


Scuderi, L.A. 1993 A 2000-year tree ring record of annual temperatures in the

Sierra Nevada mountains. Science 259: 1433-1436.

Stephenson, N. L. 1999 Reference Conditions for Giant Sequoia Forest

Restoration: Structure, Process, and Precision. Ecological Applications 9:1253-1265.

Swetnam, T.W. 1993 Fire history and climate change in giant sequoia groves.

Science 262:885-889.

End Advisory II

III. Desired Conditions

  • Issue: What are desired conditions for vegetation?

  • Facts: We have already entered climatic conditions that have no recent precedent, and pollution and pest conditions with no known precedent. For example, current atmospheric CO2 concentration is the highest it has been in at least 420,000 yrs, and perhaps 20 million years (IPCC 2001). Global temperature is rising, and the 1990s was probably the warmest decade in the last 1,000 years (Mann et al. 1998; IPCC 2001). In the Sierra Nevada, current temperatures are also rising, and are among the warmest of the last millennium (Graumlich 1993). Global average temperature is projected to increase an additional 1.4 to 5.8 C (2.5 to 10.4 F) by 2100 (relative to 1990), at a rate that is likely to be unprecedented in the last 10,000 years (IPCC 2001). Layered on top of these ongoing changes are other immediate stressors that have no precedent, such as air pollution and introduced pathogens.

  • Implications for the monument: The Proposed Action's desired condition for vegetation is too rigidly defined. Restoring and maintaining vegetation within a pre-Euroamerican range of variability may soon become undesirable or impossible. It may become undesirable because pre-Euroamerican vegetation conditions may soon become less stable or resilient to ongoing and unanticipated changes than some other set of vegetation conditions. It may become impossible because certain species, combinations of species, or vegetation structures simply may not be able to survive in future conditions.
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