April Meeting Summary

Our meeting on April 3rd, 2017 at Turtle Rock Park was attended by 14 members of the public and agencies.

We may be making headway with getting the Humboldt-Toiyabe (HT) and California to work together to negotiate a Good Neighbor Authority (GNA) agreement.  California and Region 5 of the Forest Service have such an agreement and Nevada and Region 4 do too.  But the eastern side of Alpine County and much of Mono County are in Region 4 of the Forest Service and hence are not covered by a GNA agreement.  A GNA agreement makes it easier for well-funded agencies such as CalFire and hopefully the Sierra Nevada Conservancy to do work to improve forest health on federal lands.  Senator Feinstein’s office was instrumental in getting the conversations going.  Stay tuned.

Dr. Sarah Bisbing of the University of Nevada, Reno gave an impressive presentation on her research on how climate change is affecting the resiliency of the forests of the Sierra Nevada.  If we act proactively there is a good possibility that although the species mix may be different there will still be forests in the Sierra Nevada.  If we don’t, the existing mixed conifer forests may not survive a warmer and drier climate.  Interestingly, one of the species that has shown itself to be most adaptive is the sequoia.  Areas planted with sequoia 30 years ago by Sierra Pacific Industries now have trees up to 50 feet tall.

Amy Horne of Saving the West updated us on the Mass Timber Conference which had about 1,100 attendees.  Mass timber includes various types of engineered wood products that can be used to construct large buildings and in many instances can replace concrete and steel.  By using mass timber instead of concrete and steel the greenhouse gas emissions associated with concrete and steel can be avoided, and the wood used effectively sequesters carbon that otherwise would be released to the atmosphere in the form of the greenhouse gas CO2.  Some of the mass timber can be produced from trees as small as 5” dbh (diameter breast height).

Amy Horne also briefly discussed the Little Hoover Commission’s report on Rethinking Forest Management in the Sierra Nevada.  The Little Hoover Commission is an independent California state oversight agency with the mission of investigating state government operations and policy, and through reports and legislative proposals make recommendations to the Governor and Legislature to promote economy, efficiency and improved service in state operations.  Their report neatly summarizes all the presentations we have had to date with respect to what makes a forest healthy and resilient, and what needs to be done to return our forests to a resilient state.  It is available here.

Participant updates included the following.  Gavin Feiger reported that the Alpine Watershed Group (AWG) will be having an event at Grover Hotsprings to celebrate Earth Day on April 21st.  During the year the AWG will be constructing an ADA trail at Grover Hotsprings, and they will have a small restoration project in Hope Valley.  Steve Wilensky reported the CHIPS crew will have prescribed fire training in May which will increase their capacity for work.  He also reported that Blue Mountain Electric has signed an offer sheet for $21 million dollars for their planned biomass-to-bioenergy plant, however despite the California Public Utilities Commission ordering Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) to sign a power supply contract with Blue Mountain Electric, PG&E has so far refused to do so.  Should PG&E continue to refuse to sign the contract public pressure will be brought to bear through a civil disobedience campaign.  David Griffith reported that there is a Sierra to California All Lands Enhancement (SCALE) conference planned for May 7th and 8th in Sacramento.  The Sierra Institute was willing to sponsor one vehicle to Sacramento and one hotel room per collaborative and anybody interested in taking advantage should contact him.  He reported that the federal omnibus bill just passed included $3.8 billion for wildfire management and $614 million dollars for fuels reduction.   It was also promised to fully fund the Secure Rural Schools program.  He also reported that he sent a support letter to Los Angeles Water and Power in support of their pending decision to purchase power from the Loyalton cogen biomass-to-bioenergy plant.

The next meeting is set for Tuesday May 1st at 6:00 pm at Turtle Rock Park.  We have gone from famine to feast with respect to future speakers.  Eric Morway of the US Geologic Survey will be speaking on water availability in the Carson River basin in May.  Merv George, Forest Supervisor of the Six Rivers National Forest, will speak in June.  Dr. Hugh Safford, Senior Vegetation Ecologist for the USDA-Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region, is scheduled for July.  Ali Ursa, a PhD candidate at the University of Nevada, Reno will be addressing us in August.  Dr. Wesley Kilasten of the US Geologic Survey will be presenting his research on meadow restoration and water supply in the Carson River basin in September.  October will feature Dr. Emanuele Ziaco of the University of Nevada, Reno presenting his research on tree ring analysis of environmental change.

To contact us you can either leave a comment on this blog, or for a private comment, visit our contact us page.

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