Tamarack Fire Restoration 2 Meeting Summary

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Photo by Mary Rawson

The November meeting was well attended with 34 people signing in, a few that did not sign in, and five people attending via Zoom.  Since no actions were taken there will be no notes for this meeting, only this summary.

The first presentation was by Danny Cluck on predicting mortality of fire-injured trees and patterns of post-fire bark and woodboring beetle activity.  Cluck is an Entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service Forest Health Protection department for the Northeastern California Shared Service Area.  He was followed by Anna Belle Monti’s presentation on the Forest Service’s planned Tamarack Fire Restoration.  Monti is the Forester for the Sierra Zone of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.  In addition Andy Lovell of the Alpine Trails Assoc. talked about a possible project to start a tree nursery in Alpine County.  At the moment it would be a heavy lift for the non-profit organizations in the County, but there is considerable interest in seeing if this idea can be advanced.

Cluck’s presentation was an excellent tutorial on how to differentiate dead and dying trees from those that may survive.  His presentation can be found here, and Monti’s presentation can be found here.  The Forest Service’s Marking Guidelines for Fire-Injured Trees in California can be found here.  Based on the questions the topic was of great interest and we all learned a lot.  Cluck has made other publications on bark beetles and survivability of fire-damaged trees available, so if you are interested let me know and I will forward them to you.

Participant updates:  Don Hittenmiller congratulated Tim Roide on his over 20 year service with the BLM and thanked him for all his work in Alpine County.  There was a hefty round of applause for Tim who is retiring at the end of the year.  Matt Driscoll of the SNC reported that the SNC is working on guidelines for the next round of grant applications which should come out in January and it is expected to have a short application window.  There may be up to $10 million for wildfire recovery funding.  Annie Dean expressed her appreciation for all the work everyone has been doing.  Andy Lovell reported that the Alpine Trails Assoc. is recruiting volunteers and encouraged all to join.  Brian Newman reported that CalFire’s Forest Improvement Program is accepting applications from private land owners.  He also reported that CalFire crews are helping clean up Grovers Hot Springs after the Tamarack Fire.  Kimra McAfee of the Alpine Watershed Group reported that they have a new half-time Americorps intern and they need a place for them to stay, either here or in Lake Tahoe.  Tim Roide reported that they completed 11 acres of fuels reduction along Foothill Rd. and that the Tamarack Fire took care of other fuels reduction projects they had planned for Alpine County.  Matt Croswait reported that he will be taking over Tim Roide’s responsibilities as Tim retires.  Trina Johnson reported that NRCS was available to help private land owners, but that there was a Dec. 18th application deadline.  Rich Harvey reported that he had received a grant from NRCS and that Trina had made the application process easy.  Anna Belle Monti stressed that she would be reaching out to the community for suggestions as the restoration planning process continues.  Monti hoped to have the NEPA process for the initial restoration completed June, 2022.   She also announced that Christmas tree permits would be available in Alpine County at the Chamber of Commerce and Wylder’s Resort as well as at www.recreation.gov.  David Griffith reported that the Eastern Sierra Sustainable Recreation Partnership (ESSRP) has applied for funding for the Connected Communities Program which would be for a trail system from the Tahoe Basin to Inyo County, is looking at possible grant funding for upgrading kiosks and informational signs along US 395 and Hwy 89 from Inyo County to the Tahoe Basin, and is seeking funding for the Camp Like a Pro program to deal with dispersed camping.  He also reported that the Kirkwood District Heating System powered by biomass project has had a second look from an engineer funded by the Sierra Institute.  The SNC has indicated they would like to see a concept proposal for a feasibility study.  If the Kirkwood Meadows PUD and Vail Resorts are interested the ABC will be filing an application.  At the TuCARE Summit Randy Moore, Chief Forester for the U.S. Forest Service, stated that small fuels reduction projects did not significantly reduce the risk due to catastrophic wildfire, and the Forest Service priority will be on landscape scale fuels reduction projects.

Future Meetings:  The December meeting will feature Coreen Francis, the BLM State Forester for both Nevada and California presenting the BLM’s program for restoration of the Tamarack Fire.  Assuming that there is no covid explosion the December meeting will be at the Turtle Rock Park Community Center at 6:00 pm on Tuesday Dec. 7th.  Masks or face shields will be required and we will need to maintain social distancing.  If there is a covid explosion the meeting will be on Zoom.  There will be no meeting in January, but the February meeting will feature Michelle Coppoletta, an Ecologist with the Forest Service who will be making a presentation on her recent paper with Dr. Brandon Collins on post-fire management of vegetation and fuels.  She comes highly recommended.

Tamarack Fire Restoration 2

Our November meeting will hopefully in person, but if necessary it will be switched to Zoom as there are still some lingering problems at the Community Center after the Tamarack Fire.  Should it not be possible to meet in person the Zoom connection information will be sent out as soon as a decision is made.  There will be three presentations, all related to the Tamarack Fire.  The first will be by Danny Cluck, the Forest Entomologist for the Sierras on how to determine if a tree is dead, will soon be dead, or will survive.  The second presentation will be by Annabelle Monti, Forester and Vegetation Management Specialist with the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.  Finally Any Lovell of the Alpine Trails Association will be presenting his idea of how the community can help speed up restoration after the Tamarack Fire.

Abstracts:  Danny Cluck:  There has been considerable concern in the community that some of the trees being removed from Forest Service and private land after the Tamarack Fire are not dead and if given the chance would survive.  The presentation will be a tutorial on how to identify dead trees, those that soon will be dead, and those that will survive.

Annabelle Monti:  Restoration following a fire can be an overwhelming proposition. Restoration on Forest Service lands has certain protocols and steps that need to be taken, and it can be confusing to understand what’s happening behind the scenes when it doesn’t appear anything is happening on the ground. The presentation will focus on explaining ongoing restoration strategy, timelines, priorities, and answering questions.

Andy Lovell:  Restoration after the Tamarack Fire will be a slow process, in part because of burdensome regulations that the Forest Service needs to follow, and in part because with all the fires last year and this year there is more demand for seed and seedlings than there is supply. The community could help by setting up a community nursery that would be staffed by volunteers and supported by the non-profit organizations in the County.

Biographies:  Danny Cluck:  Danny Cluck is a Forest Entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service and works in the Forest Health Protection Division for the Northeastern California Shared Service Area.  He graduated from Humboldt State University in 1992 with a B.S. in biology, and has spent 29 years with the Forest Service in NE California with experience in wildlife biology, fuels/fire, forestry, plant pathology and entomology.  He is a co-author of USFS Pacific Southwest Region fire-injured tree marking guidelines and hazard tree guidelines, and has studied post-fire tree mortality, bark and woodboring beetle activity, effectiveness of pre-fire fuel treatments, and fire-killed tree failure rates.

Annabelle Monti:  Annabelle Monti is the Vegetation Management Officer for the Sierra Zone of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.  As a professional forester, she focuses on forest management for resistance and resiliency of forest lands in the face of disturbances, and the silvicultural practices to meet those objectives.  Having worked on the Carson Ranger District for over ten years, she’s very familiar with the community, the projects that have taken place, and the future goals of the forested lands in Alpine County.

Andy Lovell:  Andy Lovell is the President of the Alpine Trails Association and was one of the two people that made the world ranked disc golf course at Turtle Rock Park come about.  He has been an active member of the community for over a decade.

Future Meetings:  December: Pending.  January:  No meeting.  February:  Michelle Coppoletta, an Ecologist with the Forest Service will be making a presentation on her recent paper with Dr. Brandon Collins on post-fire management of vegetation and fuels.

The November meeting will hopefully be in person on Tuesday November 2nd at 6:00 pm at the Turtle Rock Park Community Center.  Should it not be possible to host the meeting at the Community Center the meeting will be via Zoom video conference, and the Zoom connection information will be sent out as soon as the decision is made.

Tamarack Fire Restoration Meeting Summary

20211005_192957Photo by Mary Rawson

The Tamarack Fire Restoration joint public meeting was well attended with 74 people signing in, several that did not sign in, a number of others that had to watch from outside due to social distancing, and 14 people attending by Zoom.  Notes from the meeting are available here, and a complete video recording of the meeting is available here.  The notes include contact information for the nine agencies that made presentations.  Thanks to Kimra McAfee of the Alpine Watershed Group for editing and posting the video recording.

While it was not discussed at the meeting, with all the fires in the West year after year, the lack of a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement covering wildfires in general or some other mechanism to reduce the bureaucratic delay is inexcusable.  Having to wait as much as two years before reseeding or replanting on public lands is an example of government not working for the people.

Future Meetings:  Assuming that there is no covid explosion the November meeting will be at the Turtle Rock Park Community Center at 6:00 pm on Tuesday Nov. 2nd.  Masks or face shields will be required and we will need to maintain social distancing.  If there is a covid explosion the meeting will be on Zoom.  Details are still being worked out, but the meeting will be related to post-fire restoration or post-fire management of vegetation and fuels.

Tamarack Fire Restoration Meeting

The October meeting will be a joint meeting of the Alpine Watershed Group, Alpine Trails Assoc., Friends of Hope Valley, and the Alpine Biomass Collaborative.  The topic will be Restoration after the Tamarack Fire.  The agenda is available here.

There will be an initial session on programs to help private landowners led off by Susan Kocher of the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources.  She has published a number of papers on restoration of private lands after wildfires and will give an overview of what to expect.  One relevant publication is available here.

This will be followed by short presentations by agencies that help private landowners restore their land after a wildfire on what programs they offer.  Agencies that have agreed to attend include the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Services Agency, and CA Office of Emergency Services.  There will be an opportunity to ask questions as well as to meet and talk with agency representatives about how they can help you restore your land.

The next session will by presentations by different agencies that manage or use public lands.  Agencies that have agreed to attend include the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Liberty Utilities, and CalTrans.  After these presentations there will be as much time as needed for questions and discussion of what we as a community need to see in the way of restoration.  In the past there has been little to no restoration after wildfires and as a community we need to make sure the agencies understand that that is not acceptable.  The lack of restoration that happened after the Washington Fire is totally unacceptable.

Alpine County is heavily dependent on our tourist economy.  Whether it is car clubs coming through on tours, people coming to fish in our streams and lakes, hikers, snow sports enthusiasts, or others that come to Alpine County to enjoy our clean air, water, and scenic views, the Tamarack Fire has spoiled it.  To say nothing of the effect on those of us who live here.  It must be restored!

The meeting will be Tuesday October 5th at 6:00 pm.  It is planned as an in-person meeting at the Turtle Rock Park Community Center.  Masks or face shields will be required.  Should there be a covid explosion the meeting will shift to Zoom and the Zoom connection information will be sent out as soon as possible.

August Meeting Summary

Our Zoom meeting on September 7th was attended by 17 members of the public and agencies.  The presentation by Dr. Jeff Dozier of the University of California Santa Barbara was on snow in the Sierra Nevada: Historic Context and Trends.  There was also a brief discussion on the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) report for the Tamarack Fire.

Some sixty million people in the Western U.S. and nearly two billion people worldwide depend on mountain snow for their water resources.  Of the likely effects of a changing climate on California and Western Nevada, consequences in the Sierra Nevada are the most important.  The presentation focused on empirical evidence (ie not theoretical) about interannual variability and trends.  Currently some 67% of our precipitation and water come from snow, which is the most important seasonal reservoir that we have.  Below is a graph from Dozier’s presentation showing the trend in the maximum amount of snow averaged over 25 snow pillows in the Sierra Nevada.  Even if the total amount of precipitation does not change, the lower amounts that fall as snow mean a diminished reservoir, and consequent shorter season for surface water flows.

Tamarack Fire:  The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest (HT) met with the Markleeville Water Company on September 8th to discuss restoration for the Musser and Jarvis watershed which supplies Markleeville with 70% of its water. The HT intends to do restoration in the Musser and Jarvis watershed including re-forestation, seeding and dropping trees to support the seeding and tree planting.  HT’s implementation is 1-2 years out and will require analysis and conformance with NEPA.  The HT will also be working with the National Forest Foundation, Sierra Nevada Conservancy and internal funding to pay for this work.  The HT will also expedite any necessary permitting for any restoration work that the Markleeville Water Company wishes to do in the short term.

The BLM is still assessing the damage by the fire and developing an Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation Plan.  Potential future actions include salvage logging, reforestation of areas that are ecologically sensitive or that would enhance recreation, visual and other values.

Participant Updates:  Anna Belle Monti offered to share her expertise regarding hazard trees and reforestation.  Private land owners can contact her with questions.  Mo Loden has accepted a position as an Environmental Scientist for the Lahontan Regionals Water Quality Control Board.  AWG is hosting two events before her departure.  Markleeville Creek Day is September 18th at 9:00.  Volunteers will meet at the library.  AWG’s stakeholder meeting is September 21st.  Brian Hansen reported the Tamarack Fire is still active in spots.  The HT will be closed until the fire is put out.  Matt Driscoll reported the State budget for SNC could be $50 million for wildfire resilience grants and $10-$11 million for climate resilience grants.  SNC will know details by September 10th and the information will be posted online.  Trevor Seck reported the NFF has received funding from the California Division of Fish and Wildlife for 850 acres for fuels treatment and aspen restoration on the Carson Ranger District.  Implementation is planned for October.  David Griffith reported that he got the GIS files from the BAER report from USFS. The Tamarack Fire took care of the Tier 1 projects identified in the Wildfire Risk Mitigation Plan, but the Tier 2 and 3 projects still need to be done.  Hopefully In the next month there will be meetings with CALFIRE regarding the next priority for fuels reduction.  Alpine County hopes to open the Turtle Rock Park Community Center October 1st.

Future Meetings:  The October meeting will be a joint public meeting sponsored by the Alpine Watershed Group, Alpine Trails Assoc., Friends of Hope Valley and the Alpine Biomass Collaborative.  The subject of the meeting will be restoration of public and private lands after the Tamarack Fire, and will feature presentations by the different agencies and an opportunity to ask questions and communicate our expectations of what restoration needs to be done.  There was little to no restoration done after the Washington fire and that must not happen this time.  Assuming that the County is able to reopen the Turtle Rock Park Community Center the meeting will be there at 6:00 pm on Oct. 5th.  Masks or face shields will be required and we will need to maintain social distancing.  If for some reason the Community Center is still not open it will be on Zoom.

At either the November or December meetings we will have Michelle Cappoletta, Ecologist, Forest Service presenting on post-fire management of vegetation and fuels.

Our Zoom meeting on September 7th was attended by 17 members of the public and agencies.  The presentation by Dr. Jeff Dozier of the University of California Santa Barbara was on snow in the Sierra Nevada: Historic Context and Trends.  There was also a brief discussion on the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) report for the Tamarack Fire.

Some sixty million people in the Western U.S. and nearly two billion people worldwide depend on mountain snow for their water resources.  Of the likely effects of a changing climate on California and Western Nevada, consequences in the Sierra Nevada are the most important.  The presentation focused on empirical evidence (ie not theoretical) about interannual variability and trends.  Currently some 67% of our precipitation and water come from snow, which is the most important seasonal reservoir that we have.  Below is a graph from Dozier’s presentation showing the trend in the maximum amount of snow averaged over 25 snow pillows in the Sierra Nevada.  Even if the total amount of precipitation does not change, the lower amounts that fall as snow mean a diminished reservoir, and consequent shorter season for surface water flows.

Dozier_ABC_2021-09-07

Tamarack Fire:  The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest (HT) met with the Markleeville Water Company on September 8th to discuss restoration for the Musser and Jarvis watershed which supplies Markleeville with 70% of its water. The HT intends to do restoration in the Musser and Jarvis watershed including re-forestation, seeding and dropping trees to support the seeding and tree planting.  HT’s implementation is 1-2 years out and will require analysis and conformance with NEPA.  The HT will also be working with the National Forest Foundation, Sierra Nevada Conservancy and internal funding to pay for this work.  The HT will also expedite any necessary permitting for any restoration work that the Markleeville Water Company wishes to do in the short term.

The BLM is still assessing the damage by the fire and developing an Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation Plan.  Potential future actions include salvage logging, reforestation of areas that are ecologically sensitive or that would enhance recreation, visual and other values.

Participant Updates:  Anna Belle Monti offered to share her expertise regarding hazard trees and reforestation.  Private land owners can contact her with questions.  Mo Loden has accepted a position as an Environmental Scientist for the Lahontan Regionals Water Quality Control Board.  AWG is hosting two events before her departure.  Markleeville Creek Day is September 18th at 9:00.  Volunteers will meet at the library.  AWG’s stakeholder meeting is September 21st.  Brian Hansen reported the Tamarack Fire is still active in spots.  The HT will be closed until the fire is put out.  Matt Driscoll reported the State budget for SNC could be $50 million for wildfire resilience grants and $10-$11 million for climate resilience grants.  SNC will know details by September 10th and the information will be posted online.  Trevor Seck reported the NFF has received funding from the California Division of Fish and Wildlife for 850 acres for fuels treatment and aspen restoration on the Carson Ranger District.  Implementation is planned for October.  David Griffith reported that he got the GIS files from the BAER report from USFS. The Tamarack Fire took care of the Tier 1 projects identified in the Wildfire Risk Mitigation Plan, but the Tier 2 and 3 projects still need to be done.  Hopefully In the next month there will be meetings with CALFIRE regarding the next priority for fuels reduction.  Alpine County hopes to open the Turtle Rock Park Community Center October 1st.

Future Meetings:  The October meeting will be a joint public meeting sponsored by the Alpine Watershed Group, Alpine Trails Assoc., Friends of Hope Valley and the Alpine Biomass Collaborative.  The subject of the meeting will be restoration of public and private lands after the Tamarack Fire, and will feature presentations by the different agencies and an opportunity to ask questions and communicate our expectations of what restoration needs to be done.  There was little to no restoration done after the Washington fire and that must not happen this time.  Assuming that the County is able to reopen the Turtle Rock Park Community Center the meeting will be there at 6:00 pm on Oct. 5th.  Masks or face shields will be required and we will need to maintain social distancing.  If for some reason the Community Center is still not open it will be on Zoom.

At either the November or December meetings we will have Michelle Cappoletta, Ecologist, Forest Service presenting on post-fire management of vegetation and fuels.