July Meeting Summary

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Photo by Mary Rawson

Our meeting on July 2nd 2019 at Turtle Rock Park was well attended with 35 members of the public and agencies.  The meeting featured a presentation by the High Sierra Community Energy Development Corporation (High Sierra) and The Beck Group (Beck) on their plan for the scoping study to determine how best to utilize the excess biomass in our forest to improve forest health, reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, and strengthen the local economy.  The study is funded by $100,000 from the Economic Development Administration and Community Vision (formerly the Northern California Community Loan Fund).  There was also a discussion on governance with consensus to work on a Memorandum of Agreement, an update by the Poor Boy Ridge/Hot Spring Corridor Working Group, and a review of potential fuels reduction needs in the Woodfords area.

Scoping Study Update:  The day after the meeting High Sierra and Beck met with various potential suppliers and consumers of biomass.  There is considerable interest on both sides although it appears that biothermal heating is not currently feasible for the County buildings in Woodfords or the Diamond Valley School.

Participant Updates:  Dykes (Sierra Pines) has gathered a large amount of biomass piles and pine needles from the clearing he has done behind the mobile homes.  He wishes to clear more but needs a location to take the debris. Loden (AWG) reported that next Tues. July 9th, she will give a site tour of the Hope Valley Restoration Project including the design plan and proposed monitoring.  Hames (District 2 Supervisor) reported that the Board of Supervisors approved allocating Title 3 funds to create a fire break on the County property next to Alpine Village.  He is also working on a red flag rule that would lead to warnings to encourage people not to park cars on streets where fire equipment access is paramount.  The Sheriff has expressed reservations about enforcing the proposal.  Hames confirmed that tree removal for the purposes of fuel reduction along the edges of a roadway does not require a CEQA environmental review.  It can be done with a CalFire form and permit approval.  Scott Kizziar, (Forest Service) is available and encourages ABC participants to contact him to take part in tours that will identify where fire hazardous areas fall across property lines, where there is excess fuel loading.  Monti (Forest Service) reported that Caltrans finished the Alpine County highway hazard tree removal project last week.  In addition she is on the steering committee for the Alpine County Management Plan that has had its first meeting and will meet for again this Monday.  A request for proposals is progressing.  Johnson (NRCS) has funding to help private landowners do fuels reduction.  Riddle reported that the successful fire prevention town hall last week be used to keep building community information and planning.  Griffith reported that the County made the following Secure Rural Schools Title III grants: $6,500 in Title 3 funds were awarded to construct the fire break as reported by Hames, $20,000 funds were allocated to the Sheriff’s Department for Search and Rescue on Federal Lands, and $20,000 was awarded to the Alpine Fire Safe Council.   The County recently attended a meeting in Sacramento with the Acting Deputy Director of the Fish and Games Commission and the Chief of California Fish and Wildlife with respect to the County’s petition to exclude the Hope Valley Wildlife Area from the Lands Pass Program.  Progress is being made but more meetings will take place before this is concluded.  The Statewide Forest Management Task Force is moving decision making down from the state to the regional groups.  California Board of Forestry’s programmatic Environmental Impact Report on forest management for the state of California is now in the public comment period.  This will be the environmental review for actions common to projects where fuels reduction, community hardening, and forest health are proposed.  Projects will still have to do local environmental review for some elements such as endangered species, but it will expedite fuels reduction projects.  The BLM has a similar program.  The California Natural Resources Agency has revealed an ambitious goal to increase the volume of fuels reduction and removing excess biomass on up to a million acres per year.  The new Secretary of Natural Resources, Wade Crowfoot, will be contacting Region Four of the Forest Service.  The ABC has had presentations of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) and Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit on economic development.  The Eastern Sierra Sustainable Recreational Partnership is a new organization that is coordinating National Forest agencies, counties and local agencies in a public partnership.  Alpine County is invited to join.  A presentation to the Board of Supervisors will outline the potential benefits to the regional and local economy if Alpine County were to take part.  Driscoll (SNC, from email read by Griffith).  The SNC will be accepting pre-applications for grants from Proposition 1 and Proposition 68.  $10.5 million funds are available with pre-applications due by August 5.  Contact Driscoll for information and guidance before submitting an application.

The next meeting is set for Tuesday August 6th at 6:00 pm at Turtle Rock Park.  It will feature a Living With Fire presentation on how embers ignite structures, and a review of a proposed Memorandum of Agreement for the ABC.

To contact us you can either leave a comment on this blog, or for a private comment, visit our contact us page.

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Scoping Study on Forest Health & Local Economic Development

The July meeting will feature the kickoff public meeting on the scoping study to determine how best to utilize the excess biomass in our forests to improve forest and watershed health and strengthen the local economy. In addition there will be a planning session on fuels reduction in part of the Woodfords Planning Area, and the beginning of a discussion on governance.  Prior to the meeting it would be helpful if participants reviewed the Woodfords Planning Area section (beginning on page 25) of the Community Wildfire Protection Plan which can be downloaded from here.

The contract to conduct the scoping study is being awarded to High Sierra Community Energy Development Corporation (HighSierra) of Folsom, California.  HighSierra is a subsidiary of Widewood Energy.  The Beck Group will be working on the study as a subcontractor to HighSierra.  Both Widewood Energy and The Beck Group are based in Portland, Oregon, but have experience on similar projects in California.  The scoping study is being funded by an $80,000 grant from the Economic Development Administration and a $20,000 non-recourse 0% interest loan from Community Vision (formerly Northern California Community Loan Fund).  The study would not be possible without the active support of Calaveras Healthy Impact Product Solutions (CHIPS).  An invitation to attend was mailed to ~610 mailing addresses in Alpine County.

For those that were able to attend Alpine County’s town hall meeting last Friday on how to survive a catastrophic fire there should be no doubt on the importance of improving forest and watershed health as a means to reduce our risk from wildfire.  Hopefully this scoping study will find us the best way to do it, while also strengthening the local economy.

There will be detailed maps available to facilitate further discussion on fuels reduction projects in the Woodfords Planning Area.

Our July meeting is scheduled for Tuesday July 2nd at 6:00 pm at Turtle Rock Park, and will include sandwiches so nobody should miss their dinner!

June Meeting Summary

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Photo by Mary Rawson

Our meeting on June 4th 2019 at Turtle Rock Park was attended by 28 members of the public and agencies.  The meeting featured a presentation by the California Tahoe Conservancy on their Resilient Powerline Corridors project in the Tahoe Basin with Liberty Utilities, and an explanation by Liberty Utilities about their vegetation plan in Alpine County.  The Resilient Powerline Corridors project is a collaboration between 16 federal, state, and local agencies, and Liberty Utilities.  A robust discussion followed on fuels reduction to protect Markleeville, Markleevillage, and the Hot Springs Road corridor.  It was agreed that the Hot Springs Corridor has the highest priority in the County.  There was also some preliminary discussion on possible projects in the Woodfords area and Mesa Vista.

Scoping Study Update:  Four qualified consultants responded to the request for proposals and a decision on which one to award the study to should be made prior to the next meeting.

Participant Updates:  Mary Rawson reported there will be a star gazing party in August.  Ron Hames requested ABC’s support to enforce a Red Flag Ordinance.  He attended the Governor’s Emergency Seminar which emphasized personal responsibility and defensible space.  Ron Hames reminded participants of the Community Wildfire and Evacuation Planning Town Hall Discussion, Friday, June 21st, at Turtle Rock Park, from 5pm – 8pm.  Rich Adams, Sierra District Forester for California State Parks, introduced himself and reported he and Anna Belle Monti are sharing GIS data to determine fuels reduction priorities at Grover’s Hot Springs.  The State Parks may have new opportunities to partner with CALfire.  He is interested in the role of the Alpine Fire Save Council (AFSC) and its overlap with the ABC.  Tom Tinsley expressed interest in continuing to attend ABC meetings.  Coreen Francis encouraged the ABC to look at the Good Neighbor Authority Agreements and to consult www.grants.gov for potential partnerships.  Kris Hartnett reported he is AFSC’s Firewise Community Representative.  The AFSC is encouraging interested groups of homeowners (a maximum of 10 homes per “pod”) to contact them.  This may have benefits for homeowner’s insurance.  January Riddle reported she and Pat Schwartz attended a consortium sponsored by the East Topaz Fire Council on the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) model.  The Concerned Citizens group is interested in possibly starting a CERT team in Alpine County.  Tim Roide reported the Alpine Fuels Mitigation Plan will kick off in August or September with 12 months of anticipated planning.  The work, both maintenance and new, does include work on Poor Boy and Hot Springs Road.  The Hot Shot Crew did some brushing work on Hot Springs Road for several days.  Scott Kizziar reported a crew is going out next week on the Forest Service section of Hot Springs Road to do some maintenance work.  Teresa McClung reported they have a list of candidates for the District Ranger position and are starting the evaluation process.  Eliot Jones and Eric Oiler thanked the ABC and commented on the importance of partnerships between agencies and private land owners.  David Griffith reported he attended a SCALE meeting.  RCRC had a representative there as well as the Northern California Community Loan Fund.  The ABC Board of Directors had a meeting. There were no changes in the board members. Tax returns and the California Registration for Charitable Trust paperwork have been filed.  David Griffith reported he was inspired by the last ACCG meeting where the Forest Service modified projects on the fly based on input from environmental groups and agencies.

The next meeting is set for Tuesday July 2nd at 6:00 pm at Turtle Rock Park.  It will be another planning meeting involving all the agencies that have past, present and future projects which improve forest or watershed health, and which reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires in Alpine County.  It will begin to concentrate on the Woodfords area.  Prior to the meeting it would be helpful if participants reviewed the Woodfords Planning Area section (beginning on page 25) of the Community Wildfire Protection Plan which can be downloaded from here.  Members of the public that are concerned with the risk of catastrophic wildfire to their homes and communities are encouraged to participate.

To contact us you can either leave a comment on this blog, or for a private comment, visit our contact us page.

 

Resilient Corridors and more Less Talk, More Action

The June meeting will feature a presentation by the California Tahoe Conservancy on their Resilient Powerline Corridors project with Liberty Utilities and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit National Forest.  Liberty Utilities will also be present to discuss and answer questions on their Vegetation Management Plan in Alpine County.  In addition there will be further discussion on priorities in the Poor Boy – Hot Springs Corridor potential fuels reduction project.

The U.S. Forest Service, California Tahoe Conservancy, and Liberty Utilities are partnering to improve the fire safety and resiliency of more than 62 miles of utility lines in the Tahoe Basin. Through potential funding opportunities, Liberty will fund its obligation to remove trees that pose an immediate threat to its power lines, while the public agencies will fund projects to improve the long-term health and resilience of the broader utility corridor and surrounding forest.  This is an excellent example of collaboration between public agencies and private interests to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire.

There will be detailed maps available to facilitate further discussion on what is to be done in the Poor Boy – Hot Springs Corridor area.  Hopefully the agencies and organizations involved will agree to move forward collaboratively to develop the specifics of a plan to reduce the fire hazard in this area.  Major private landowners in the area are receptive to participating at some level, but naturally want to review the details before making any commitments.

Proposals for completing the scoping study to determine how best to make use of the excess biomass in our forest and improve our local economy have been received from four consultants.  They are TSS Consultants, Biomass Energy Resource Center, Wallowa Resources Community Solutions Inc., and a joint proposal from Wisewood Energy and the Beck Group.  The proposals are being reviewed by CHIPS and the ABC, and the final selection should be made by the July meeting.

During the month the ABC facilitated a meeting with the Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s new Executive Director Angie Avery for organizations that work in Alpine County.  Presentations were made by the Alpine Trails Association, Chamber of Commerce, Alpine Watershed Group, Washoe Tribe, Carson Ranger District, and the ABC.

Our June meeting is scheduled for Tuesday June 4th at 6:00 pm at Turtle Rock Park.

May Meeting Summary

 

 

 

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Poor Boy Ridge Tour, 29-April  photo by Annie Dean

Our meeting on May 7th 2019 at Turtle Rock Park was attended by 24 members of the public and agencies.  The meeting featured a robust discussion on fuels reduction to protect Markleeville, Markleevillage, and the Hot Springs Road corridor.  There was also some preliminary discussion on possible projects in the Woodfords area and Mesa Vista.

RCDI Spring Workshop:  The Sierra Institute is sponsoring its final Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) workshop on May 29th, 2019, in Jackson, CA.  This is a good opportunity to meet with and learn from other forest collaboratives.  The draft agenda is located here, and registration is available here.   It will be followed by the Sierra Institute’s SCALE conference on May 30th and 31st at the same location.

Scoping Study Update:  The Request for Proposals was submitted to five (now six) consultants that had indicate that they were interested in submitting a proposal.  The deadline for submitting proposals is May 24th.  It is considered likely that there will be at least two, and hopefully more, solid proposals.

Participant Updates:  Mary Rawson reported that 18 Markleeville Enhancement Group volunteers cleaned five areas in Markleeville on May 5th.  The Alps Haus supported the effort with gift certificates.  Trina Johnson, NRCS, offered support and help to the ABC for funding on private land.  Kimra McAfee, AWG, reported AWG’s next bimonthly meeting is May 14th, 5:30 pm, at the Woodfords Indian Education Center.  There will be a presentation on trails and watershed health.  Anna Belle Monti reported Caltrans is starting a hazard tree project on May 13th on highways 88, 89 and 4.  Coreen Francis reported she is available to answer questions regarding CCI grants.  The BLM signed a big decision on the Programmatic Environmental Assessment in February 2019.  This covers all forest and woodland areas managed by the BLM in California (not us as we are in the Carson City District, NV).  Josh Heitzmann reported the State Park will continue fuels reduction by removing several hundred hazard trees around Shay Creek and the pool complex at Grover Hot Springs.  Matt Driscoll reported SNC’s forest health grant pre-applications will open in the summer of 2019 with final applications due in early October.  Mark Schwartz, on behalf of the Markleeville Water Company, encouraged participants to conserve water.  Mark Schwartz reported he will be helping with bike races and providing bike maintenance at Washoe Earth Day, Saturday, May 11th, at the Hung A Lel Ti gym from 9am-2pm.  David Griffith reported he is getting information from the Eastern Sierra Sustainable Recreation Partnership regarding economic development related to outdoor recreation.  He also reported that RCRC is working on an ambitious plan which would create 20 year master stewardship agreements for most forests in California.  Chris Placke reported CALFIRE is conducting defensible space inspections on the Mesa.

The next meeting is set for Tuesday June 4th at 6:00 pm at Turtle Rock Park.  It will be another planning meeting involving all the agencies that have past, present and future projects which improve forest or watershed health, and which reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires in Alpine County.  There will also be a presentation by the Tahoe Conservancy on their Resilient Corridors Concept that they are working on with Liberty Utilities.  Members of the public that are concerned with the risk of catastrophic wildfire to their homes and communities are encouraged to participate.

To contact us you can either leave a comment on this blog, or for a private comment, visit our contact us page.