New national forest headquarters stakes down in Porterville

Sequoia National Forest Headquarters going up at Henrahan site in Porterville

PORTERVILLE – The United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service has begun construction on their new headquarters in Porterville, to serve as a point of contact for the public who come to visit the Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument.

Teresa Benson, the U.S. Forest Service’s supervisor for the Sequoia National Forest, said the new $7.5 million facility will incorporate principles of sustainability, reflect its place within the natural and cultural landscape and provide forest services to visitors and partners.

“Our new facility will serve as ‘home base’ for 66 employees, including the Central California Interagency Communications Center,” Benson said. “In addition, it will function as a point of contact for Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument visitors.”

Designed by MFDB Architects of Sacramento, the new HQ is being built on Forest Service land at the Henrahan work center, constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps with funding from President Roosevelt’s New Deal. The Forest Service has had plans to move the Sequoia National Forest Headquarters to the Henrahan work center since the 1950s, and are now seeing that plan through with a state-of-the-art 11,000 square-foot facility.

Strategic Industry, Inc. of Kingsburg was awarded the contract to construct the energy-efficient HQ—planned for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver certification, awarded for green building strategies from new construction, interior fit outs, operations and maintenance—which includes a communications tower, wood decks, tables for sitting, vegetative swales and a walking bridge.

“We are also working with the California Native Plant Society to design an environmentally friendly landscape,” Benson said.

Porterville serves as a strategically attractive position for the Forest Service headquarters to service the more than 1.1 million acres of the Sequoia National Forest, spanning through three counties: the Hume Lake Ranger District in Fresno and Tulare Counties; the Western Divide Ranger District in Tulare County; and the Kern River Ranger District in Kern and Tulare Counties.

The U.S. Forest Service has had over a century of presence in Porterville, beginning in the winter of 1920 when the Sequoia National Forest seasonal headquarters was relocated there from Bakersfield. The first true HQ was at the Home Bank building on Main Street in the 1940s while the Henrahan site served as a warehouse support facility. By the late 1940s the Forest Service had outgrown the Home Bank building and moved to the Henrahan site until 1964, when they moved to a new location on West Grand Avenue. In 2005, the Sequoia National Forest Headquarters moved to the current leased location on South Newcomb Street.

The Henrahan work center currently houses engineering, fleet and fire support services and warehouses. The new HQ under construction at the Henrahan site will allow the Forest Service to consolidate their services into one site, reducing operations and maintenance costs and reducing taxpayer dollars spent. Construction of the new facility began in February 2021 and is expected to be completed and open to the public sometime in 2022.

Funding for the new facility is from nationally appropriated dollars tied directly to providing new facilities that can achieve long-term savings. It does not impact the forest budget.

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