Craig Thomas to present at June meeting.

Craig Thomas of the Sierra Forest Legacy (SFL) will be making a presentation on prescribed fire and the Fire MOU Partnership between Region 5 of the US Forest Service, CALFIRE, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, the California Forestry Association, SFL and several other non-government organizations, and three prescribed fire councils.

The purpose of the Fire MOU Partnership is to increase the use of fire to meet ecological and other management objectives.  It is grounded in the understanding that while it will always be important to protect human life and property,  fire exclusion and a century of intensive fire suppression comes with some serious costs including ecological, economic, carbon, and  public health and safety.  Fire has helped define the California landscape for tens of thousands of years, as has precipitation, but recently we are seeing increasing fire size and intensity and emissions outputs that are extremely damaging to public health.   While there is no-no fire option for a landscape like California’s there are ways to work with fire to increase the natural resource and public benefits. Increasing the pace and scale of restoration must include a significantly expanded, well managed, fire program if we are to attain landscape resilience.

Close coordination with air quality regulators is also essential in dealing with the challenging issues of emission trade-offs, burn windows, achieving ecological scale of forest resilience, early public notification and other important factors.

Craig Thomas was the co-founder of SFL in 1996.  He started out work as SFL’s Conservation Director and became Executive Director in 2000 until 2012.  During this time he oversaw all of SFL’s programmatic work, fundraising, strategy and engagement with stakeholders, media, agency and political decision-makers and staff oversight.  Today he has stepped back to part-time and coordinates SFL’s Forest Conservation Program.  He has been intimately involved in the protection and restoration of the forests of the Sierra Nevada for over twenty-five years and continues working to find solutions to the threats facing Sierra Nevada forests and communities today.

Craig has a BA degree in cultural ecology, which is the study of the ecological, economic, social and spiritual relationship of people to their landscapes.  He has lead SFL’s efforts to not only defend the Sierra Nevada from excessive logging but to also protect Sierra communities from wildfire and to find environmentally sustainable solutions to reducing uncharacteristic fire hazard through the utilization of small diameter trees and biomass removed in forest thinning efforts.  Before founding SFL twenty years ago, Craig taught sustainable small-scale agriculture at Chico State and often lectured at local universities on sustainable farming practices and holistic agriculture.

Craig is a 37-year resident of the Sierra Nevada and calls the foothills north of Placerville his home.  When he is not working on forest restoration and forest planning Craig and his wife Vivian, operate Seven Grandfathers Farm, the first certified organic acres in El Dorado Co., selling produce at farmers markets, food-co-ops and on the farm.

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

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.

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