MOA Update: At the December meeting, the ABC made progress in adopting a revised Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). Christine Aralia, CA Tahoe Conservancy, reminded the group that an MOA is important because it facilitates cooperation and coordination with agencies by providing a framework for a shared vision and for rules of governance. ABC’s goal is to get as many signatories as possible to sign on as partners. These partnerships allow for greater leveraging of resources and for increasing pace and scale of landscape restoration. The most recent draft includes revisions by the HT. Teresa McClung, Deputy Forest Supervisor, not only approved the most recent draft, she also generously offered to reach out to signatories at the Amador, Stanislaus, El Dorado and Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit for their approval. There will be a status report on the MOA in February. Teresa McClung also suggested a signing ceremony; this idea was well received by the group and will be discussed in February.
Presentation: Trina Johnson gave a presentation on how the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can help landowners manage, protect, improve and conserve natural resources. NRCS’s mission is to help people help the land. She also solicited ABC’s input to generate a list of Alpine County’s top resource concerns. This is important because for the first time, Alpine County’s priorities will be included in NRCS’ ranking system. The NRCS offers technical and financial assistance. Technical assistance helps landowners develop a plan for their resource concerns. Financial assistance, provided by the Farm Bill of 2018, is based on the plan and provides the most cost-effective way to address concerns. All counties in a region compete. For instance, Alpine County will be competing with everyone else in forested areas as part of the Forest Land Fund Pool. Plans are used to draft a contract, which is flexible and can be renegotiated. No match is required and contracts are based on reimbursement. The 2019 budget for Alpine and Mono Counties was around $300,000 and funded all three contracts submitted. Funding is getting more competitive, however. Applications will be accepted soon and projects should be funded by August, 2020. Trina Johnson facilitated a discussion on Alpine County’s top resource concerns. Mitigating catastrophic fire dominated the discussion with soil quality, soil erosion, insufficient water and water inefficiency as top resource concerns. Insufficient water was recorded under the Pasture Land category.
Poor Boy Ridge – Hot Springs Road Corridor Working Group: There was lots of excitement over the CAL FIRE grant application, which was submitted December 4th. The working group is optimistic it will be funded. The ABC thanked the working group for all its hard work and the working group acknowledged Chris Anthony for his guidance and feedback. Matt Zumstein, Carson District Ranger, complimented the ABC on the grant submission which encourages pooling resources for landscape restoration.
Participant Updates: Don Hittenmiller thanked Anna Belle Monti and the HT’s hand crews for their exemplary work on Pleasant Valley Road. Matt Zumstein, Carson District Ranger, thanked Steve Howell for his participation in coordinating resources. Matt Zumstein reiterated his long-term commitment to our region and to his job. He reported he has consulted with John Wentworth at the Eastern Sierra Sustainability Recreation Partnership and that he is reaching out to Liz Burger with the Forest Management Task Force regarding leverage resources. Teresa McClung reported USFS is starting a NEPA process for forest wide prescribed burning on the HT. This will be a categorical exclusion and will exclude roadless and wilderness areas. Matt Zumstein noted that broadcast burning, a critical tool for forest management, keeps him up at night; it is far and away the riskiest thing he and Teresa McClung do as line officers for USFS. The April meeting may be a good opportunity for a presentation by Ag Extension on prescribed fire in the Tahoe Basin; the HT will have a lot to contribute to this topic. January Riddle, Concerned Citizens of the Hot Spring Corridor, is recruiting census takers in Alpine County. The census is important for Alpine County’s federal funding. Christine Aralia shared new publications from the CA Tahoe Conservancy: A Forest Action Plan for the Tahoe Basin and Lake Tahoe West Project.