November Meeting Summary

Our meeting on November 7th, 2017 at Turtle Rock Park was attended by 18 members of the public and agencies.  The Alpine Biomass Committee (ABC) is continuing to operate on funds provided by two anonymous donors.  Discussion about the advisability of changing to a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation are continuing.

Our application for $20,000 in matching funds for a potential Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant is pending with the Northern California Community Loan Fund (NCCLF).  Hopefully there will be a favorable decision by the end of the month.

Shelly Blair, the California Fish and Wildlife Land Manager for Alpine County gave a presentation on human-wildlife interaction.  Her presentation focused on predators, how to identify them, their behavior, and what to do if confronted with one.  The department no longer moves problem bears from one area to another, but it does release “re-habituated” orphaned bear cubs within a 75 mile radius of where they were originally found.  In our case the orphaned bear cubs are usually found in the Tahoe Basin.  Studies have shown that bears transplanted as much as 500 miles from where they are captured can find their way back.

Participant updates included the following.  The Carson Ranger District reported that the Markleeville Fuels Reduction project has been completed and they will try and organize a tour.  The Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) reported that more funding is probably coming to the Sierra Nevada from California in the form of two initiatives (one definite, the other still has to gather signatures).  The funding can be used on public and private lands.  They also reported that the SNC is going through a strategic planning project and the public is encouraged to participate.  They reported that Chris French, Assistant Deputy Chief Forester for the USFS emphasized in a meeting that it is a priority at the national level to work collaboratively with other agencies, local governments and groups like the ABC.  Danna Stroud announced that she will be leaving the SNC at the end of the month.  We all agreed that we are sad to see her go.  Griffith updated the meeting on funds for forest restoration that are anticipated to be coming available.  CalFire and the California Air Resources Board have reportedly agreed on how to calculate the reduction in greenhouse gases from forest health and fuels reduction projects.  This means that CalFire will have a lot more funding for such projects, but some of the attached conditions may not be acceptable to private land owners.  The SWET conference on biomass utilization will be in Fresno on Nov. 14th through 16th.  The Economic Development Committee will be discussing recreation tourism as an economic development tool at its Nov. 14th meeting.  The Carson Water Subconservancy District is requesting nominations for its Andy Alfax award and suggestions were requested.  Suggestions have also been requested from the Alpine Watershed Group.  The BLM reported that the Department of the Interior is working on accelerating the NEPA process.

The next meeting is set for Tuesday December 5th at 6:00 pm at Turtle Rock Park.  Dr. Tamzen Stringham of the University of Nevada, Reno will be making a presentation on the management and restoration of Pinyon-Jupiter. There will be no January meeting.  Future speakers include Dr. Malcolm North of the USFS in February, Scott Conway of the USFS in March, and for April and May we have tentative commitments from Dr. Hugh Stafford and Merv George, both of the USFS.

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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November Meeting Summary

Our meeting on November 7th, 2017 at Turtle Rock Park was attended by 18 members of the public and agencies.  The Alpine Biomass Committee (ABC) is continuing to operate on funds provided by two anonymous donors.  Discussion about the advisability of changing to a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation are continuing.

Our application for $20,000 in matching funds for a potential Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant is pending with the Northern California Community Loan Fund (NCCLF).  Hopefully there will be a favorable decision by the end of the month.

Shelly Blair, the California Fish and Wildlife Land Manager for Alpine County gave a presentation on human-wildlife interaction.  Her presentation focused on predators, how to identify them, their behavior, and what to do if confronted with one.  The department no longer moves problem bears from one area to another, but it does release “re-habituated” orphaned bear cubs within a 75 mile radius of where they were originally found.  In our case the orphaned bear cubs are usually found in the Tahoe Basin.  Studies have shown that bears transplanted as much as 500 miles from where they are captured can find their way back.

Participant updates included the following.  The Carson Ranger District reported that the Markleeville Fuels Reduction project has been completed and they will try and organize a tour.  The Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) reported that more funding is probably coming to the Sierra Nevada from California in the form of two initiatives (one definite, the other still has to gather signatures).  The funding can be used on public and private lands.  They also reported that the SNC is going through a strategic planning project and the public is encouraged to participate.  They reported that Chris French, Assistant Deputy Chief Forester for the USFS emphasized in a meeting that it is a priority at the national level to work collaboratively with other agencies, local governments and groups like the ABC.  Danna Stroud announced that she will be leaving the SNC at the end of the month.  We all agreed that we are sad to see her go.  Griffith updated the meeting on funds for forest restoration that are anticipated to be coming available.  CalFire and the California Air Resources Board have reportedly agreed on how to calculate the reduction in greenhouse gases from forest health and fuels reduction projects.  This means that CalFire will have a lot more funding for such projects, but some of the attached conditions may not be acceptable to private land owners.  The SWET conference on biomass utilization will be in Fresno on Nov. 14th through 16th.  The Economic Development Committee will be discussing recreation tourism as an economic development tool at its Nov. 14th meeting.  The Carson Water Subconservancy District is requesting nominations for its Andy Alfax award and suggestions were requested.  Suggestions have also been requested from the Alpine Watershed Group.  The BLM reported that the Department of the Interior is working on accelerating the NEPA process.

The next meeting is set for Tuesday December 5th at 6:00 pm at Turtle Rock Park.  Dr. Tamzen Stringham of the University of Nevada, Reno will be making a presentation on the management and restoration of Pinyon-Jupiter. There will be no January meeting.  Future speakers include Dr. Malcolm North of the USFS in February, Scott Conway of the USFS in March, and for April and May we have tentative commitments from Dr. Hugh Stafford and Merv George, both of the USFS.

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

November Meeting Summary

Our meeting on November 7th, 2017 at Turtle Rock Park was attended by 18 members of the public and agencies.  The Alpine Biomass Committee (ABC) is continuing to operate on funds provided by two anonymous donors.  Discussion about the advisability of changing to a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation are continuing.

Our application for $20,000 in matching funds for a potential Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant is pending with the Northern California Community Loan Fund (NCCLF).  Hopefully there will be a favorable decision by the end of the month.

Shelly Blair, the California Fish and Wildlife Land Manager for Alpine County gave a presentation on human-wildlife interaction.  Her presentation focused on predators, how to identify them, their behavior, and what to do if confronted with one.  The department no longer moves problem bears from one area to another, but it does release “re-habituated” orphaned bear cubs within a 75 mile radius of where they were originally found.  In our case the orphaned bear cubs are usually found in the Tahoe Basin.  Studies have shown that bears transplanted as much as 500 miles from where they are captured can find their way back.

Participant updates included the following.  The Carson Ranger District reported that the Markleeville Fuels Reduction project has been completed and they will try and organize a tour.  The Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) reported that more funding is probably coming to the Sierra Nevada from California in the form of two initiatives (one definite, the other still has to gather signatures).  The funding can be used on public and private lands.  They also reported that the SNC is going through a strategic planning project and the public is encouraged to participate.  They reported that Chris French, Assistant Deputy Chief Forester for the USFS emphasized in a meeting that it is a priority at the national level to work collaboratively with other agencies, local governments and groups like the ABC.  Danna Stroud announced that she will be leaving the SNC at the end of the month.  We all agreed that we are sad to see her go.  Griffith updated the meeting on funds for forest restoration that are anticipated to be coming available.  CalFire and the California Air Resources Board have reportedly agreed on how to calculate the reduction in greenhouse gases from forest health and fuels reduction projects.  This means that CalFire will have a lot more funding for such projects, but some of the attached conditions may not be acceptable to private land owners.  The SWET conference on biomass utilization will be in Fresno on Nov. 14th through 16th.  The Economic Development Committee will be discussing recreation tourism as an economic development tool at its Nov. 14th meeting.  The Carson Water Subconservancy District is requesting nominations for its Andy Alfax award and suggestions were requested.  Suggestions have also been requested from the Alpine Watershed Group.  The BLM reported that the Department of the Interior is working on accelerating the NEPA process.

The next meeting is set for Tuesday December 5th at 6:00 pm at Turtle Rock Park.  Dr. Tamzen Stringham of the University of Nevada, Reno will be making a presentation on the management and restoration of Pinyon-Jupiter. There will be no January meeting.  Future speakers include Dr. Malcolm North of the USFS in February, Scott Conway of the USFS in March, and for April and May we have tentative commitments from Dr. Hugh Stafford and Merv George, both of the USFS.

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

Shelly Blair of California Fish and Wildlife to Present at November Meeting

The November meeting will be about human-wildlife interactions and how the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) responds to problems and educates the public.  Shelly Blair, the CDFW Land Manager for Alpine County will be making the presentation.

Shelly Blair is an Environmental Scientist (Wildlife) for the CDFW, and is currently the unit biologist for El Dorado and Alpine Counties.  She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biological Sciences from the California State University Chico and began working as a volunteer and scientific aid with CDFW in 1993.  She has held seasonal positions in the enforcement, education and outreach, and upland game programs, and worked in the Wildlife Investigations Lab and the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area.  Her first permanent position as a wildlife biologist was with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) in 2000.  For the next five years, she was the liaison between CDFA and the US Department of Agriculture/Wildlife Services Program; dealing with statewide wildlife/ human conflict issues.  In 2006, she moved back to CDFW and led the statewide Chronic Wasting Disease Surveillance Program in the Wildlife Investigations Lab.   In 2010, she was hired for her current position. Her responsibilities include all wildlife management issues and projects (mainly game species) and she is land manager of all CDFW owned wildlife areas and ecological reserves in El Dorado and Alpine Counties.

We will also be continuing the discussion on the advisability of forming a 501c(3) (non-profit) entity to make it easier to attract funding and complete projects.

The November meeting is scheduled for Tuesday November 7th at 6:00 pm at Turtle Rock Park.

October Meeting Summary

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Dr. Becky Estes showing long-term trends in wildfire occurrence and climate.
Photo: Mary Rawson

Our meeting on October 3rd, 2017 at Turtle Rock Park was attended by 15 members of the public and agencies present.  The Alpine Biomass Committee (ABC) is continuing to operate on funds provided by two anonymous donors.  Discussion about the advisability of changing to a 501c(3) non-profit corporation are continuing.

In cooperation with CHIPS the ABC is continuing to pursue a grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the Northern California Community Loan Fund (NCCLF) for a “feasibility study” on biomass utilization.  So far the NCCLF, which hopefully will be supplying the matching funds required for an EDA grant, has been most encouraging.  Time will tell.

Dr. Becky Estes, the USDA Forest Service Central Sierra Province Ecologist gave a presentation on forest health in the Sierra and forest restoration after major disasters such as catastrophic fire or extreme die-offs due to insect infestation and drought.  The object is to design science-based restoration programs that will maximize the possibility that the new forest will be resilient into the future.  It is anticipated that the climate will generally be warmer, but that some parts of the Sierra Nevada will be drier while other areas will be wetter.  This will affect the species mix which will be able to flourish.

Participant updates included the following.  The Carson Ranger District reported that the Markleeville Fuels Reduction project started today and that the contractor will be using three machines to try and get the work done before the snow flies.  They also reported that their specialists had inspected the West Carson Project and found no evidence of abnormal tree mortality.  Ron Hames reported that he is continuing to work on trying to get a fuels reduction project above Upper Manzanita Lane.  Becky Estes reported that there is a monitoring workshop with the Amador-Calaveras Consensus Group (ACCG) on November 8th.  Saving the West reported that their Wood Innovation project was progressing well.  They are currently examining how much biomass might be available on a sustainable basis and what economic use could be made of it.  They also reported that the 18 MW biomass-to-bioenergy plant will be restarting in November.  It has a power purchase agreement with a consortium of public utility energy consumers.  The Lahontan and Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Boards are working together to set consistent non-point pollution standards for federal lands.  The Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) reported that Susanna Reyes is their new chair.  Senate Bill 5 will put a ballot measure on the June ballot which will provide significant funding for the SNC.  There is a SCALE workshop sponsored by the Sierra Institute coming up in December for all collaboratives.  The SNC is developing its new strategic plan.  The ABC reported that there will be a second competitive ballot measure on the June ballot which allocates even more funding for forest health etc.  The Statewide Wood Energy Team (SWET) has a conference on biomass November 14th through 16th in Fresno.  The Alpine Watershed Group encouraged all to attend the Aspen Festival this weekend.  Details at www.AspenFest.org.

The next meeting is set for Tuesday November 7th at 6:00 pm at Turtle Rock Park.  Shelly Blair of the California Fish and Wildlife will be making a presentation on human-wildlife interactions.  With a nuisance bear and mountain lion around it should be interesting.

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

The October meeting will be about Monitoring Success of Sierra Nevada Forest Ecology and Management.

How do we know whether our meadow restoration, forest thinning or other projects to restore forest and watershed health actually result in the desired outcome?

Dr. Becky Estes, the USDA Forest Service Central Sierra Province Ecologist, will be making a presentation on ecological restoration to promote resiliency in California’s forests and waterways as an important tool that managers use.  Restoration is challenged today by the ecological implications of climate change and increased frequency of fire.  In order to understand if restoration is successful it is important to monitor and report results to managers and to the community.  The USFS Region 5 Ecology group works with managers on the forests, collaborative groups, and other agency and University scientists to monitor both ecological and social effectiveness of numerous restoration treatments.

Dr. Estes has lived in Placerville, California and served as the USDA Forest Service Central Sierra Province Ecologist for over five years working with the Eldorado, Tahoe and Stanislaus National Forests and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.  Prior to working in the Sierra Nevada, she worked as a postdoc with the Pacific Southwest Research Station in Redding, CA where she was able to work with a number of research scientists studying relevant questions throughout Mediterranean climates.  She completed her undergraduate work at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, and continued her education at Auburn University in Alabama where she completed her Master’s and Ph.D. in Forestry in 2006. She now assists forests with a number of complex management needs in the province and the region, including the importance of managing post-fire landscapes to ensure future resilience in the face of a changing climate.

We will also be discussing the advisability of forming a 501c(3) (non-profit) entity to make it easier to attract funding and complete projects.

The October meeting is scheduled for Tuesday October 6th at 6:00 pm at Turtle Rock Park.

September Meeting Summary

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Danna Stroud making her presentation.

Our meeting on September 5th, 2017 at Turtle Rock Park was well attended with 20 members of the public and agencies present.  This was the last meeting sponsored by the National Forest Foundation (NFF).  Although the ABC has been frugal and did not spend the entire grant, it expires on September 15th.  Two private donors have agreed to sponsor the ABC for the time being until it figures out what direction it will take.

The ABC is continuing to pursue a grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the Northern California Community Loan Fund (NCCLF) for a “feasibility study” on biomass utilization.  In some quarters there have been false allegations that there are plans to use tribal lands for a possible biomass facility.  There is absolutely no truth to these allegations and those who are spreading them should know that.  We have enough problems with “alternate facts” in Washington and shouldn’t have to put up with them here as well.

Part of the ABC’s mission statement is to advance local economic development.  Danna Stroud of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) organized a series of presentations on the economic development possibilities of recreation.  In her introduction she pointed out that outdoor recreation is currently a $887 billion dollar industry in the US and it is growing faster than the overall economy.  Each year in California it consists of $92 billion in consumer spending, provides 691,000 jobs paying $30.4 billion in wages, and raises $6.2 billion in state and local taxes.  Alpine County is ideally suited to take advantage of this and the success of Sorensen’s Resort is ample proof.  Just this last weekend Sorensen’s served over 1,000 people that were here to participate in muscle-powered recreation.

Joe Flower of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) National Forest and Devin Middlebrook of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) made a joint presentation on what the Lake Tahoe Sustainable Recreation Working Group is doing in the Tahoe Basin.  Between 2010 and 2015 visits to the LTBMU increased by 33% to about 7.7 million annually.  Cell phone data indicates that the actual visits may have been as high as 9.6 million annually.  With a declining budget, partly due to “fire borrowing”, the Forest Service needs to collaborate with other agencies, state and local governments, and non-government organizations to maintain sustainable outdoor recreation for all.  Alpine County is uniquely located to take advantage of the increased interest in outdoor recreation.

Jonathan Cook-Fisher, the USFS’s National Recreation Special Uses Program Manager, made a presentation on how the Forest Service at the national level is working to encourage simplification of the various bureaucratic requirements that impede the ability of businesses and organizations to advance outdoor recreation in the nation’s forests.  There are categorical exemptions from NEPA and Nominal Effects Determinations that can often be used to streamline or eliminate permitting bottlenecks.  Or as he said, make it easier for the local Forest Service management to say “yes”, rather than “no”.

Dan Morris, the Recreation Manager for the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest (HT) reported on the HT’s outdoor recreation program along with the financial challenges they face.  He also reminded us that the HT would be updating their Forest Plan, probably beginning in 2019, and that outdoor recreation would be a larger part of it.

Summing up, if the community, County, state, and federal agencies want to build a recreation economy in Alpine County, and we all collaborate, we can make it happen.  Upcoming revisions to the Stanislaus, Eldorado and Humboldt-Toiyabe forest plans will be a great opportunity to get involved and make outdoor recreation a more important activity in Alpine County.

Participant updates included the following.  The Alpine Watershed Group (AWG) reported that the Aspen Festival will be held Oct. 7th and 8th in Hope Valley, that beer would be available for sale there, that Markleeville Creek Day will be at 9:00 am on Sept. 9th at the Library, and that on Sept. 8th at 4:30pm at Turtle Rock Park all 28 of the AmeriCorps volunteers working in the Sierra were having their graduation ceremony and that everyone was encouraged to attend.  The HT reported that work on the Markleeville Fuels Reduction project was on track to start the first week of October.  The BLM reported that they will be preparing more vegetation treatments in the County and that they are preparing a statewide program in California to take care of “hazard trees” on BLM lands.  The Alpine Trails Association reported that they had workdays planned for Sept. 16th and 23rd and that volunteers were welcome.  The ABC reported that Netflix had a new series starting Sept. 8th on wildfires in California with CALFIRE and the L.A. Fire Department, that the Fire Tax was gone, and that the ABC would have a stand at the Aspen Festival.

The next meeting is set for Tuesday October 3rd at 6:00 pm at Turtle Rock Park.  Becky Estes of the Eldorado National Forest will be making a presentation on monitoring the success/failures of projects.  How does one know that a particular project delivered the promised benefits?  She will focus primarily on the environmental aspects, not the social aspects.

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

The Alpine Biomass Committee is supported by a grant from the National Forest Foundation with funds coming from Region 5 of the U.S. Forest Service.  This organization is an equal opportunity provider.