STATEMENT OF JACQUELINE LOWEY, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, HISTORIC PRESERVATION, AND RECREATION, SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES, REGARDING S. 2279, A BILL TO AUTHORIZE THE ADDITION OF LAND TO SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK.

JUNE 29, 2000


Thank you for the opportunity to present the position of the Department of the Interior on S. 2279, a bill to authorize the addition of land to Sequoia National Park. The Department supports Congressional efforts to protect the land that is the subject of this bill.

Acquisition of the 1,540-acre Dillonwood parcel would provide opportunities for research and conservation management, as well as recreational activities. The fact that it is contiguous to the Garfield Grove in Sequoia National Park would enhance these opportunities. Ranging in elevation from approximately 5,000 7,800 feet and adjacent to the southern boundary of Sequoia National Park, Dillonwood contains waterfalls on the Tule River, remote alpine locations, and magnificent vistas of the San Joaquin Valley. Dillonwood provides habitat for a number of threatened and sensitive species, including the California spotted owl, and the Pacific fisher. It is adjacent to an historical roost for the California condor. It is also populated by mountain lions and black bears. Bears have been frequently poached to harvest bear gall bladders for the foreign aphrodisiac market. The current owners have worked to eliminate this practice. The property is estimated to cost over $10,000,000. We expect that private contributions could make up at least fifty percent of this purchase price.

S. 2279 would extend the boundary of Sequoia National Park to include the Dillonwood parcel. The park was established in 1890 to "perpetuate the environment in a natural state for the benefit and enjoyment of the people." Several areas have been added to the park since 1890, including the Mineral King Area, formerly of the Sequoia National Forest, which was added to the park in 1978. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are managed as one entity, covering over 864,411 acres. Preservation of the unique giant sequoia trees, native to the western slope of the Sierra Nevada, was and continues to be a primary purpose of the park. As noted above, the 1,540 acre parcel contains part of the Dillonwood sequoia grove that is an extension of the Garfield Grove, which is located within the park. The majority of the Dillonwood grove is within the boundary of the Giant Sequoia National Monument. The combined Garfield/Dillonwood Grove ranks among the top five groves in total number of mature sequoia trees and is larger than the world-famous Giant Forest Grove.

The Dillonwood Grove, which was logged between the 1880s-1950s, contains both ancient, old-growth monarchs and extensive stands of healthy, young sequoias. The diverse second-growth forest, which reproduced after the logging, contrasts dramatically with some of the older groves that have been protected within the park for over a century. Fire suppression in the park between the turn of the century and the 1960s impaired the regeneration of giant sequoias.

The Dillonwood Grove is presently within the boundary of the Giant Sequoia National Monument, proclaimed by President Clinton on April 15, 2000. The Presidential Proclamation provides that any land acquired by the Federal government within this boundary would become part of the National Monument. The President's budget for the United States Forest Service also includes $4 million toward the purchase of the Dillonwood Grove.

We believe the resources of the Dillonwood Grove are worthy of protection and we would be pleased to work with the Committee on the appropriate ways of preserving these resources for the enjoyment of future generations.

This concludes my testimony. I would be happy to answer any of your questions.