July 2, 2008

Forest Service Celebrates 100 Years: Giant Sequoia Seedlings Planted.

By Esther Avila, The Porterville Recorder, Calif.

Jul. 2--Two Giant Sequoia seedlings were planted Tuesday morning at Supervisor's Headquarters in Porterville in honor of the Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument's centennial birthday.

"When we look back, we count 100 years of growth and achievement and we have a lot to celebrate," said Mary Chislock, public affairs officer with U.S. Forest Service. "We began in 1908 when there was nothing, and today we are something."

Tulare County Supervisors Mike Ennis, Connie Conway, and Allen Ishida, as well as representatives from Congressman Devin Nunes' office, Senator Roy Ashburn's office, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's office -- were on hand for the half-day celebration, and joined in to help plant the Centennial Tree.

Tina Terrell, forest supervisor, said she was honored to represent the men and women of the forest service and was thankful that they decided to protect the waterfalls, trees and land of what is now the forest service.

"I love the forest service for what I get to do -- manage the land each and every day," Terrell said. "It's a humbling experience. These lands were here before we got here and will still be here 100 years from now."

Sitting in the audience were three members of the Bakersfield Green Thumb Garden Club, who were present to receive an award from the forestry service, said Richard Amaya, co-chairman of their Penny Pines project.

"We've been in existence for 12 to 15 years and during that time we have bought 48 plantations," Amaya said.

Any time the club raises $68.00, they purchase a plantation of trees, said club president Joyce Darrow. The trees are planted in burned out areas of the forest.

"They're Sequoia seedlings. We could have picked any area for our project but we picked this area because we live near here," said Helen Maas, co-chairwoman of the Penny Pines drive. "Depending on the elevation, there are anywhere between 400 and 600 seedlings in each plantation. That's quite impressive."

Porterville Girl Scout Troop 1024 assisted Terrell in planting a second seedling several yards away.

"It's quite an honor," said Girl Scout Carly Innis of Porterville. "I think it's really cool to know that a lot of people will come and see the tree. It is just like the other official [Centennial] tree that was planted."

Guests at the celebration were invited to visit a historical 1900's rangers camp, meet with the crew of Engine 25, and meet with Bob Oates, his horse and packing mules, from the Backcountry Horsemen to experience a taste of the rangers' challenges 100 years prior.

The celebration continued with a centennial birthday cake, awards recognition and an open house. Another celebration will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at the Western Divide Ranger District, 32588 Highway 190.

The event is free and people are encouraged to take stories and photographs to share in the history of the celebration. A celebration is also planned for Saturday at Buck Rock Fire Lookout.


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Copyright (c) 2008, The Porterville Recorder, Calif.

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