August Meeting Summary

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photo by Mary Rawson

Our meeting on August 6th 2019 at Turtle Rock Park was well attended with 25 members of the public and agencies.  The meeting featured a presentation by Jaimie Roice-Gomes of the Living With Fire Program at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and a discussion on the draft Memorandum of Agreement to formalize our governance.  There was also an update by the Poor Boy Ridge/Hot Springs Corridor Work Group, an update by the Forest Service on the Dixon Fire, and a decision to simplify the meeting minutes to summary/action minutes.

Twenty years ago wildfires were assumed to set homes on fire when the flame front or radiant heat engulfed a home.  It is now recognized that as many as 90% of the homes lost in a wildfire is due to flying embers, not the flame front or radiant heat.  This is good news as it is relatively easy to make most homes resistant to embers.  The Living With Fire Program has many excellent brochures and publications on how to make homes more resistant to embers.  These are and have been available from the Alpine Fire Safe Council.

Scoping Study Update:  The first interim report by the consultants is due in about a month, and will contain information on the amount and types of biomass available on a sustainable basis.

Poor Boy Ridge/Hot Springs Road Corridor Update:  The work group had a good meeting on site with Registered Professional Forester Kevin Whitlock and others.  The consensus was that the work group should continue to firm up the plan, start looking at funding options, and approach the property owners to get their input.

Participant Updates:  Rich Harvey advocated acquiring resources to reopen the burn pile.  Anna Belle Monti (USFS) reported that the HT will have a signed decision memo within the next few months for the West Carson Watershed Project.  August 19th the steering committee for the Alpine County planning grant will meet to review proposals from consultants.  Fuel permits are available at the Chamber of Commerce.  David Griffith reported that the Board of Supervisors heard a presentation by the Eastern Sierra Sustainable Recreation Partnership; the Board will have an opportunity to join this partnership. The Forest Management Task Force is accepting landscape scale project suggestions.  The Forest Service is providing a Good Neighbor Authority agreement webinar; contact David Griffith for details.  Duncan Leao (USFS) reported Matt Zumstein has been selected as the new HT District Ranger.  He comes from Norwood, Colorado, with a background in recreation management.  Rich Adams (State Parks) expressed support for ABC’s proposed work on Hot Springs Corridor and recommended Kevin Whitlock as a resource.  State Parks is not ready to be a part of any current grant application.  Tim Roide (BLM) reported that the Airport 2 fire at Indian Creek resulted from an abandoned campfire.  It burned in a fuels treatment area and stayed on the surface; most Jeffrey pines survived.  BLM’s Alpine Fuels Management 4.0 Version Environmental Assessment was kicked off August 5th.  The Poor Boy Ridge area will be expanded.  Kris Hartnett reported the AFSC met with Grover Hot Springs State Park to pursue evacuation implementation.  There is an issue with communication between the State Park and the Sheriff’s Department which Kris Hartnett is helping to resolve.  The AFSC is still looking for groups of homes to create Firewise Communities; they enhance options for fire insurance.  Mary Rawson reported that there will be a stargazing party on August 24th, at 7:00 pm, at the Alpine Airstrip.  Hamburgers and hot dogs will be served.  Ron Hames reported that he is still working on the red flag ordinance.

The next meeting is set for Tuesday September 3rd at 6:00 pm at Turtle Rock Park.  The speaker is still to be decided and suggestions are welcome.  There will also be a further review and hopefully final agreement on the 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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Be Ember Aware and ABC Governance

The August meeting will feature a presentation by Jaimie Roice-Gomes of the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.  Her presentation will focus on how most homes, perhaps as many as 80%, that are consumed in a wildfire are ignited by flying embers.  In addition we will review the draft Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) which if and when approved will serve as our mutual understanding of what the Alpine Biomass Collaborative is, and how we will work together to advance our mission of unifying partners to promote forest and watershed health, and local economic development.

Jamie Roice-Gomes is the Manager of University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Living With Fire Program.  She earned her Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation and a Master of Arts in Interactive Environmental Journalism.  She has been a public relations assistant for Conrad Communications, a public information officer intern at the Nevada Department of Conservation & Natural Resources and a biological science technician at the USDA-Agriculture Research Service.  She has volunteered to make this presentation on her own time as she believes that this information needs to be better known to those that live in the Wildland Urban Interface.

There have been a number of requests to formalize the ABC’s governance.  A draft MOA has been prepared for discussion and possible approval.  It is attached to the agenda which is available here.  It is important that those of you that have expressed concern take the time to review it prior to the meeting.  Thanks to January Riddle and Christine Aralia for putting it together.  Although it is broadly based on the Amador Calaveras Consensus Group’s (ACCG) MOA, due to the significant differences between the ABC and ACCG, their respective memberships and communities, it is a much simpler document.

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

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.

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.