June Meeting Summary

Our meeting on June 5th, 2017 at Turtle Rock Park was attended by 17 members of the public and agencies.


Don Hittenmiller (ABC), David Loeks (Heartland Timber Homes), Anna Belle Monti (USFS)  photo by Annie Dean

David Loeks of Heartland Timber Homes made a great presentation on their patented system for building timber frame homes using non-commercial timber.  Loeks, who came all the way from Whitehorse in northern Canada, is thinking of expanding to the US, and Alpine County is a possible location.  Should that happen there would be five to ten full time jobs here, some seasonal jobs, and the operation would help in reducing the excess biomass in our forests.  Their proposed operation would need in the order of three to five acres.

While he was here we met with the Community Development Department, had a telephone conference with Golden Sierra Job Training, met with both the Humboldt-Toiyabe and Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit National Forests, and with Calaveras Healthy Impact Product Solutions (CHIPS) at their site in Calaveras County.  While the meetings in general were very favorable and most importantly there will be a sustainable wood supply, it will be a while before we know whether Heartland Timber Homes will be following up.  One of their key requirements is to find a local partner, and while some initial contacts were made it will take time for this to work out.

On the corporate side the Alpine Biomass Collaborative (ABC) has applied for a System for Award Management (SAM) number which will allow the Federal government to make direct deposits to ABC’s bank account should ABC receive any federal grants.  The ABC has also sent in its registration application to California’s Registry of Charitable Trusts.

Participant updates included the following.  David Griffith reported on David Loeks’ schedule: June 5th – Conference call with Golden Sierra Job Training; Meetings with the Community Development Department,  Anna Belle Monti, and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.  June 6th – Calaveras County meeting with Steve Wilensky and CHIPS.  David Griffith reported Region 4 of the Humboldt-Toiyabe has agreed to work on the Good Neighbor Authority Agreement as time permits.  Last week David Griffith attended a Mountain Counties Water Agencies meeting in Auburn that included presentations from two Congressmen, The Regional Forester and Deputy Regional Forester from Region 5, the Executive Director of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, and the Vice-President of Sierra Pacific Industries.  The entire meeting was devoted to forest health and the relationship between forest health to water quality and quantity.  Rich Harvey introduced Kimra McAfee, the new Executive Director of the Alpine Watershed Group.  Applicants are being interviewed for the Alpine Watershed Group Coordinator position.  Rob Beltramo conveyed Irvin Jim’s regrets; he was unable to attend.  Irvin Jim sent words of appreciation and thanked ABC for its efforts and welcoming atmosphere.  Steve Wilensky reported that 15 Washoe CHIPS crew members finished their 32 Fire Training and S212 Saw Certifications.  This will allow the crew to conduct prescribed burning in the winter and create year round employment.  Steve Wilensky also reported that CHIPS had received a power purchase agreement for signature from PG&E.  This is the first such agreement that has been signed for a small biomass-to-bioenergy plant under California’s SB 1122 .

The next meeting is set for Tuesday July 3rd at 6:00 pm at Turtle Rock Park.  Dr. Hugh Safford, Senior Vegetation Ecologist for the USDA-Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region, will be presenting his research on forest conditions prior to European settlement.  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.  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.

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