November Update

Things have slowed down significantly and we have not been able to line up a speaker for December. 

The state’s Forest Management Task Force is preparing its final recommendations for Governor Newsom’s consideration on how best to reduce the risk of and damage from wildfire.  The preliminary recommendations can be found by clicking on the Working Group Recommendations link.  There has been strong participation in the Task Force by a few forested counties including Alpine, Fire Safe Councils, Resource Conservation Districts, most state agencies, Region 5 of the US Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management.

Organization Update:  With the current ban on indoor gatherings the MOU is being circulated for signatures rather than having a dedicated signing event.  Currently the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, Bureau of Land Management, and the Alpine Watershed Group have signed.  

Michael Barton unfortunately, at least for us, is leaving Alpine County.  He has been a great supporter of the ABC and also served as Secretary-Treasurer on the 501(c)(3) of the same name.  His knowledge, advice, and support will be sorely missed.  Thank you for everything Michael, and the best to you and Barbara in your future home.

Future Meetings:  Unfortunately there won’t be a December meeting as we have been unsuccessful in lining up a presentation.  There will not be a January meeting as most agency personnel will either be on leave or just getting back after the holidays.  The February meeting will feature Dr. Scott Stephens of the University of California at Berkley talking about the science behind forest restoration in the Sierra.  In April we will have presentations on prescribed fire and the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District’s Smoke Management Plan.  Any suggestions for possible speakers are welcome. 

The next meeting will be February 2nd at 6:00 pm via video conference.

October Update

Our Zoom meeting on October 6th was attended by 11 members of the public and agencies.  Dan Macon of the University of California Cooperative Extension included us in a previously scheduled webinar on targeted grazing.

Targeted grazing can be used to reduce excess vegetation, especially brush and small trees, and may be a viable alternative to mastication and other fuels reduction techniques.  The technique can also be used to remove certain invasive species.  Sheep and goats are the most common animals used, but llamas and cattle have also been used.  The type of vegetation to be removed determines which species will be preferred.  In the Sierra foothills (west side of the Sierra Nevada) cost tends to run between $350-$500/acre, and can be considerably less for multi-year contracts.  The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest already uses targeted grazing to reduce excess vegetation in some areas.

Organization Update:  David Griffith reported that the Memorandum of Agreement was complete and ready for circulation and signature.  With the current ban on indoor gatherings it will need to be circulated for signatures rather than having a dedicated signing event.  Since the meeting the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest has signed.

Participant Updates: Kimra McAfee reported that the next AWG meeting is a webinar on the West Fork Carson River Vision Projects Restoration, November 10th, 5:30-7:30 p.m.  Don Hittenmiller introduced the Pleasant Valley Project.  Challenges include fuels reduction with diverse timber and the white fir beetle.  He gave Anna Belle Monti a shout-out for walking the ground with him and for sharing her expertise.  Annie Dean thanked David Griffith for his monthly newsletters; they are especially important now to keep the community informed.  Tim Roide reported the BLM has a new district manager and field manager. Non-fire personnel are doing telework.  New treatments in Alpine County start May 8th and include Poor Boy Ridge, South of Turtle Rock Park, maintenance, and new work on 200-500 acres.  Matt Driscoll reported the SNC has opened up new grant opportunities; he will share the link.  Forest health priorities include building capacity by implementing prescribed fire, large landscape restoration, implementing projects the SNC did planning on, and underserved partners.  The SNC will be offering online grant writing workshops.  Coreen Francis has been monitoring fires in California and is alarmed by their extreme behavior.  She reiterated the importance of working to safeguard homes in Alpine County and reminded people that you can cut down trees less than 12 inches in diameter without a permit.  Matt Zumstein reported staff are working virtually; there have been no positive covid19 tests.  Of the 40 reported fire starts, 37 were put out and the Slink Fire is 90% contained.  Campgrounds are completely full and people are camping in undesignated areas.  Porta potties have been installed to reduce the risk of covid19.  Liberty Utilities and Nevada Energy have been submitting proposals for removal of vegetation, however there is a bottleneck due to archeology.  David Griffith thanked the BLM and the Forest Service for their ongoing work despite the challenges of the pandemic.  Anna Belle Monti gave Don Hittenmiller a shout-out for the Pleasant Valley fuels reduction project and will share before and after photos.  The Scott’s Lake area was closed for spraying but the project was on completed October 2nd.  500 trees were sprayed with an insecticide for beetles.  The Markleevillage project will continue this fall with units ready under contract.  There are piles to burn and 140 acres of handwork.  There is work on Pleasant Valley Road and on Hot Springs Road towards Grover’s; the CHIPS crew is hired for the latter.  There are 120 acres on Monitor Pass and 100 acres of the West Carson Project.  Christmas tree permits will be available online on November 2nd.  Rich Harvey encouraged people to visit AWG’s Hope Valley Project where a trench will re-route the West Fork of the Carson.  On October 19th, he will represent Alpine County on a conference call with Ricardo Lara, Insurance Commissioner of California, regarding new legislation for fire insurance.  Annie Dean thanked Rich Harvey for his advocacy.  David Griffith reported that there is currently no money allocated for forest health and fire prevention through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, but there may be some funding available in January.

Future Meetings:  Unfortunately there won’t be a November meeting as we have been unsuccessful in lining up a presentation.  While there are speakers interested in making a presentation in the new year, at the moment most of the ones contacted to date don’t have time this year.  Any suggestions for possible speakers are welcome.  If there will be a D

Vegetation Reduction Using Sheep and Goats

Meetings will resume with our Oct. 6th meeting and will be via Zoom video conferencing.  Although Zoom meetings have limitations due to the lack of effective informal networking, it also allows us to have presentations that would not otherwise be possible.  Presenters who are located too far away to make an in-person presentation can now join us.  Suggestions for topics of interest that are relevant to our mission statement are welcome.  October’s presentation will actually be a webinar presented by the University of California Cooperative Extension’s (UCCE) California Sheep & Goat Grazing School on Targeted Grazing.  Thanks to Avery Hellman for the topic suggestion.

UCCE Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor Dan Macon will provide an overview of targeted grazing, including grazing management, picking the right grazer for the job, livestock management, and customer relations.  Using sheep and goats to reduce excess fuels in the WUI is a method that is used in many places including the Humboldt-Toiyabe west of Carson City.

Photo by Roger Ingram

Dan Macon is the UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor for Placer, Nevada, Sutter and Yuba Counties and county director for Placer and Nevada Counties.  His research and extension priorities focus on climate resilience in rangeland agricultural production systems, livestock-predator coexistence, targeted grazing management, and ranch business viability.  Dan also provides administrative oversight for the 4-H Youth Development Program in Placer and Nevada Counties.  Prior to accepting this position, he was an associate specialist in rangeland science and management at UC Davis.  He was also the founding executive director of the California Rangeland Trust (a land trust established by the California Cattlemen’s Association).

Dan is also a partner in Flying Mule Sheep Company, a small-scale commercial sheep operation in Auburn, California.  He holds a master’s degree in integrated resource management from Colorado State University and a Bachelor’s Degree in agricultural and managerial economics from UC Davis.  He is a past president of the California Wool Growers Association and the California-Pacific Section of the Society for Range Management.

The October meeting it will be Tuesday October 6th at 6:00 pm via video conference, but will be slightly different from our normal schedule.  The webinar is scheduled from 6:00 – 7:30 pm, and our business meeting and participant updates will begin as a separate Zoom meeting on conclusion of the webinar.  It is advisable to check in a few minutes early in case of technical glitches.  The Zoom meeting for our business meeting and participant updates will be open at 7:00 pm, but won’t actually start until the webinar is finished.  However participants should be able to see and chat with each other after 7:00 pm.

Links for the targeted grazing webinar are:

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Meeting ID: 929 7289 0123

Passcode: 090379

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Links for the ABC business meeting are:

Topic: ABC October Meeting

Time: Oct 6, 2020 07:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

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Meeting ID: 822 5539 5025

Passcode: 357344

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September Update

There has been some interest in having the ABC resume meetings via video conference such as by Zoom.  Because it appears that covid-19 will be with us for a while, perhaps a very long while, it’s something we should consider.  Video meetings are not as good as in-person meetings, but it is either video meetings or no meetings.  Please let me know your preference by sending a note to this week.  It can be as simple as “Video Yes” or “Video No”, or a detailed explanation as to the rationale behind your preference.  It is too late to organize a September meeting, but we should be able to have an October meeting if enough of us are in favor.

There is some good news with respect to forest and watershed health in California.  Region 5 of the Forest Service and the state of California have signed a Shared Stewardship Agreement Memorandum of Understanding on a common understanding on what needs to be done, to work together to improve forest and watershed health, and to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire.  It also includes using the excess biomass in the forest to generate energy.  Governor Newsom, the leadership of Region 5, the leadership of the California Natural Resources Agency and CALFIRE all deserve credit for putting this together and for their commitment to making it work.  The Acting Regional Forester of Region 4 has also signed the document and it is hoped that Region 4 and the Humboldt-Toiyabe will also commit to making it work.  Over the last few years there has been consistent lobbying for Region 4 and the Humboldt-Toiyabe to be included in California’s programs and investment to improve forest health and it looks like that might have paid off.  If so, special thanks are due to Regional Forester Randy Moore, Deputy Regional Forester Barnie Gyant, California Secretary of Natural Resources Agency Wade Crowfoot, and CALFIRE Chief Thom Porter, as well as numerous other agency contacts over the years.

The recently passed Great American Outdoors Act allocates 15% ($285 million/year for five years) of its funding to the Forest Service to improve infrastructure on public lands.  If your organization has some projects on public land that have been neglected due to lack of resources for maintenance, or there are new ideas for expanded infrastructure, bring them to the ABC and also contact the Carson Ranger District at (775) 882-2766 to make your case.

If there is an October meeting it will be Tuesday October 6th at 6:00 pm via video conference.  Stay safe, and let me know if you want video meetings.

August Update

As noted last month there will not be an August meeting.  Many people are still nervous and others would not be allowed to attend: either by their agency or their spouse.  The ABC doesn’t have a budget that would accommodate video conferencing, and even if the ABC could do that the most productive part of the meetings is the informal back and forth between participants which is next to impossible on a video conference.  This is frustrating for all of us so thank you all for your patience.

In a presentation to the County’s Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC), Liberty Utilities indicated that they are seriously interested in biomass-to-bioenergy as part of their effort to become 100% renewable and to help reduce the excess biomass in the areas that they serve.  They are currently thinking of a much larger plant (20 MW vs 2 MW) than envisioned in the scoping study, but this is still a positive development.

It is with regret that I am informing you that Teresa McClung has retired from the Forest Service.  She was the Calaveras District Ranger, Deputy Forest Supervisor for the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit and lastly she held the same position at the Humboldt-Toiyabe.  She has a long track record of working with forest collaboratives and encouraging local input to Forest Service decisions and programs.  Her active participation and encouragement to the Amador Calaveras Consensus Group (ACCG) and later to the ABC will be sorely missed.  Thank you Teresa, and best wishes to you in your new career as Grandma.

If there is a September meeting it will be Tuesday September 4th at 6:00 pm at Turtle Rock Park.  Stay safe!