Dr. Becky Estes showing long-term trends in wildfire occurrence and climate.
Photo: Mary Rawson
Our meeting on October 3rd, 2017 at Turtle Rock Park was attended by 15 members of the public and agencies present. The Alpine Biomass Committee (ABC) is continuing to operate on funds provided by two anonymous donors. Discussion about the advisability of changing to a 501c(3) non-profit corporation are continuing.
In cooperation with CHIPS the ABC is continuing to pursue a grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the Northern California Community Loan Fund (NCCLF) for a “feasibility study” on biomass utilization. So far the NCCLF, which hopefully will be supplying the matching funds required for an EDA grant, has been most encouraging. Time will tell.
Dr. Becky Estes, the USDA Forest Service Central Sierra Province Ecologist gave a presentation on forest health in the Sierra and forest restoration after major disasters such as catastrophic fire or extreme die-offs due to insect infestation and drought. The object is to design science-based restoration programs that will maximize the possibility that the new forest will be resilient into the future. It is anticipated that the climate will generally be warmer, but that some parts of the Sierra Nevada will be drier while other areas will be wetter. This will affect the species mix which will be able to flourish.
Participant updates included the following. The Carson Ranger District reported that the Markleeville Fuels Reduction project started today and that the contractor will be using three machines to try and get the work done before the snow flies. They also reported that their specialists had inspected the West Carson Project and found no evidence of abnormal tree mortality. Ron Hames reported that he is continuing to work on trying to get a fuels reduction project above Upper Manzanita Lane. Becky Estes reported that there is a monitoring workshop with the Amador-Calaveras Consensus Group (ACCG) on November 8th. Saving the West reported that their Wood Innovation project was progressing well. They are currently examining how much biomass might be available on a sustainable basis and what economic use could be made of it. They also reported that the 18 MW biomass-to-bioenergy plant will be restarting in November. It has a power purchase agreement with a consortium of public utility energy consumers. The Lahontan and Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Boards are working together to set consistent non-point pollution standards for federal lands. The Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) reported that Susanna Reyes is their new chair. Senate Bill 5 will put a ballot measure on the June ballot which will provide significant funding for the SNC. There is a SCALE workshop sponsored by the Sierra Institute coming up in December for all collaboratives. The SNC is developing its new strategic plan. The ABC reported that there will be a second competitive ballot measure on the June ballot which allocates even more funding for forest health etc. The Statewide Wood Energy Team (SWET) has a conference on biomass November 14th through 16th in Fresno. The Alpine Watershed Group encouraged all to attend the Aspen Festival this weekend. Details at www.AspenFest.org.
The next meeting is set for Tuesday November 7th at 6:00 pm at Turtle Rock Park. Shelly Blair of the California Fish and Wildlife will be making a presentation on human-wildlife interactions. With a nuisance bear and mountain lion around it should be interesting.
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