A Range of Light National Monument?

News article about a legislation to establish “1.4 Million Acres of Federal Land Between Yosemite and Kings Canyon [as] the Range of Light National Monument.” I’d much prefer Congress to create monuments than for any president to do so via the Antiquities Act, which, as I’ve said on Smokey Wire before, I think has been used in a way never intended by Congress when it created the act. The Sierra Club loves the idea. Nat Geo notes that “The sprawling national forest in California has thousands of mining claims, timber sales, grazing leases, and private inholdings, activities not typically found in national parks.”

Anyhow, I’d like to discuss not the politics, but the management proposed Range of Light National Monument, how management would change — taking national forest and transferring it to the National Park Service. The area is in the midst of a dire forest health crisis. Which agency is better positioned to tackle it? Not to mention all of the other uses….

14 thoughts on “A Range of Light National Monument?”

  1. Then they will need to change the name again, in 20 years, to “The Range of Fire National Monument”, when it burns again, like the Caldor Fire. It WILL happen! It’s a done deal. No amount of management will save it from the next inevitable firestorm.

  2. Question.. would it be better for environmental justice if Reps from more urbanized areas wrote bills to help their constituents, rather than try to solve environmental problems in rural Congressional Districts (who didn’t vote for them)? Just a thought.

    • Question: is there any data on how “reps from more urbanized areas” trying to solve rural area environmental problems are therefore unable to “help their constituents” on more local matters?

  3. Before Giant Sequoia National Monument was created, the Sierra Club and others wanted the land transferred from FS management to NPS. My understanding was that the creation by Presidential Proclamation under the Antiquities Act wouldn’t allow that change, although I haven’t confirmed that. This bill would move all of Sierra National Forest and the referenced BLM land under NPS management as part of creation of a new national monument. I suppose the proponents want to do away with any prospect of a timber sale, or mining, or grazing, etc. Pretty much none of those activities are not going to continue at any scale if the wildfire problem can’t be solved and I can’t see that changing land managers is such a good idea right now, no matter what your politics. Assuming the bill passes, it will likely face legal challenges and also the bureaucratic hassle of changing agencies, staffing, regulations, etc. I am reminded that the 1,540-acre Dillonwood Grove of giant sequoias was added to Sequoia National Park in 2001 after its purchase by Save the Redoods League and a major contribution from the state’s Wildlife Conservation Board. If I recall correctly the price paid to the private owner was about $10 million. By 2017, the NPS was STILL STUDYING how best to improve the health of logged/second growth sequoia there, including how to reintroduce fire into the grove. The combined Garfield/Dillonwood grove ranked among the five groves in the world for the greatest number of monarch giant sequoia trees and was larger than the famous Giant Forest grove, although not easy to access. In 2020, the Castle Fire burned thousands of giant sequoias there. My point is not to criticize the NPS, but to point out that with the combination of bureaucracy and the likely lack of resources, changing the management of these lands while we remain in drought with so many other challenges may do far more harm than good. I suspect that the authors of this bill have not been on the ground in the Sierra Nevada to see the devastation caused by extreme wildfire behavior in the past few years. Better, I think, to support the various agencies in managing the land they’re currently responsible for than to spend a cent or an ounce of energy trying to change the rules for a single acre at this time.

  4. It has been a trend to take chunks out of national forest and transfer them to Park Service. For instance Great Basin National Park out of the Humboldt-Toiyabe NF, Olympic Park which initially was Mt. Olympus National Monument under Forest Service admin, became Olympic National Park in 1938, Saguaro National Park in two sections east and west of Tucson –eastern part, Rincons initially part of Coronado NF and western Tucson Mountains were a county park. The thought is giving more national recognition, local business interests think it is good for tourism and Park Service gets more recreation money than the Forest Service hence possibly more infrastructure maintenance. Tradeoff is you get the very controlling Park Service management philosophy rather than Forest Service which in my experience as a hiker of many places is much more laissez faire and easier to deal with. But maybe less money for trails, campgrounds, other facilities. And I am not sure NPS has much experience with forest health management? I have only dealt with them on recreation end.

    • “I am not sure NPS has much experience with forest health management?” NPS has been conducting prescribed burning (benefiting forest health) for far more decades than USFS. The NPS approach to forest management is natural process driven, while the USFS, for the most part, is timber sale driven (stop fires, kill brush, and grow trees as fast as possible for harvest). Two very different missions in two departments (Interior and Agriculture). Having worked for both agencies, I see that forest management is based on agency mission (NPS process protection and USFS conservation).

  5. There is precedent for establishment of a national monument within a national forest and for that monument to be managed by the U.S. Forest Service instead of the National Park Service. The 56,300-acre Newberry National Volcanic Monument, for example, was established within the Deschutes National Forest in the autumn of 1990 when Congress passed and President George H.W. Bush signed a locally inspired and crafted bill to create that monument.

    • Brown’s Canyon is managed by the BLM and the FS in Colorado.https://www.fs.usda.gov/visit/browns-canyon-national-monument
      Chimney Rock is managed by the FS (San Juan)
      Canyons of the Ancients by the BLM.
      It would be interesting for a student interested in budgets to look at “does more $ come via the designation, or from transferring to the NPS, or neither?”, using case studies.
      Is the land better “protected” via the designation? From what exactly (something current or something possible in the future)?

  6. The Newberry Crater National Monument, managed by the Deschutes NF, has a history of active management. I took these photos way back in 2000 – two sides of the main road to Newberry Crater: High fuel loading on the north side and a treated area (thinning and piling) on the south side immediately opposite.



  7. In the Giant Sequoia National Monument, commercial thinning projects (which protects old growth) were banned over the full 300,000+ acres. The ban did not happen during the conversion, but after a court battle. Even the trees deemed to be hazardous to the public were not harvested but, were left as a fire hazard, next to roads. We’ve seen this movie before.

  8. And, OF COURSE, there are still some people out there who think that the timber industry wants to cut the giant sequoias, and that the Forest Service is willing to let them. (There’s even conspiracy theories about selling them to China.)

  9. From what I can tell, all of the Forest Service and BLM lands would be transferred to National Park management? Would Sierra National Forest cease to exist? Would some portion of Sequoia National Forest also be encompassed? I can’t find any maps online of the included BLM land, perhaps someone knows a link. I can’t find a single map of the bill itself, only the text. The Forest Service would be erased in this area. Does Sierra National Forest have systemic management issues warranting this heavy-handed proposal?
    I see the bill as an overbearing manipulative land grab. It’s very audacious. It must be coming from someone who craves more control and hates the Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act. Basically, from someone who is fundamentally intolerant.
    Be sure to let me know if ive misunderstood.


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