Our meeting on August 7th, 2017 at Turtle Rock Park was attended by 14 members of the public and agencies.
Alexandra (Ali) Urza, a plant ecologist and PhD candidate at the University of Nevada, Reno, gave a presentation on the expansion and increasing dominance of highly flammable invasive cheatgrass in the Great Basin. At certain elevations and environments cheatgrass outcompetes native species after wildfires, including prescribed burns. While there are a number of treatments that can control it at a small scale there are currently no economically viable treatments at the landscape scale, and this is what is needed. Research is ongoing to find the best way to deal with it.
An update was given on the $80,000 grant application that the Alpine Biomass Collaborative (ABC) has with the Economic Development Administration (EDA). The EDA met with some of the Directors as part of the their due diligence on ABC. CHIPS’s President Steve Wilensky was also present as CHIPS is the fiscal agent and partner in the application. After the meeting with the ABC Directors the EDA representative met with the County’s Community Development Director and discussed other opportunities that the EDA could help the County with.
The discussion was continued on how best to improve the community’s and County Board of Supervisors’ understanding about what the Alpine Biomass Collaborative (ABC) is and what its goals are. The half-truths, innuendo and conspiracy theories about the ABC expressed by Jim Holdridge at the Aug. 7th Board of Supervisors’ meeting were discussed as an example of what the ABC needs to overcome. A presentation on the ABC’s activities and accomplishments will be prepared for the Board of Supervisors, probably for one of their September meetings. The Sierra Institute has offered to help, as this is a problem that other collaboratives have encountered before.
Participant updates included the following. January Riddle reported that construction on her new house was proceeding well. Coreen Francis announced that the permanent District Manager for the Carson City District is Colleen Dulin. The BLM in California has begun a programmatic Environmental Assessment for tree removal, vegetation management within 200 ft. of all roads, powerlines, trails, private property etc. that crosses or border the lands they manage. A decision is expected this fall or winter. The BLM is significantly reducing the size of its environmental review documents and time frames for the environmental review process. Mo Loden reported that the Alpine Watershed Group (AWG) is hosting its annual Markleeville Creek Day on Sept. 8th, after which “tree cookies” will be provided to participants by Ron Hames. Julia Keane mentioned that deadline for registration is Aug. 31st. Marina Vance reported that the next meeting of the AWG is Sept. 11th at 5:30 pm. Ron Hames reported that an individual objected that the fees he paid for his off-road vehicle did not grant him access under California Fish and Wildlife’s Land Pass program, and that Alpine County is petitioning that the program be cancelled in Hope Valley. He also announced that the Donnell Fire in southern Alpine Fire that is producing most of our current smoke is being allowed to burn and may not be out until winter. David Griffith reported that the ABC was not successful with its grant application for an Alpine County small grant. The Central Sierra Economic Development District of which Alpine County is a part received a $178,000 Rural Development Grant from the US Dept. of Agriculture to study the feasibility of excess biomass removal and local economic development. The ABC has filed its application for 501(c)(3) status. The Calaveras Fire Safe Council has been awarded $3.1 million in grants form CALFIRE for several fuels reduction projects.
The next meeting is set for Tuesday September 4th at 6:00 pm at Turtle Rock Park. Dr. Wesley Kilasten of the US Geologic Survey will be presenting his research on meadow restoration and the effect of climate change. In October Steve Frisch and Chris Mertens of the Sierra Business Council will be making a presentation on the Loyalton biomass-to-bioenergy facility in Sierra County. November’s speaker is pending. In December Kevin Vella of the National Wild Turkey Federation will be making a presentation. The National Wild Turkey Federation does a lot of forest and habitat restoration on Forest Service lands nationally.
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