It has been a long wait, but the Economic Development Administration (EDA) informed the Alpine Biomass Collaborative (ABC) and CHIPS that their joint application for an $80,000 grant to do a scoping study on how best to utilize the excess biomass in the forest to provide jobs and improve the local economy was approved. This together with the $20,000 in matching funds from the Northern California Community Loan Fund gives the ABC and CHIPS $100,000 to complete the study. It will be about a month before a few loose ends are tied up and work can begin. Thanks are due to a number of organizations and individuals, most prominently CHIPS and Steve Wilensky without which it would never have happened, Malinda Matson of the EDA for her strong support, and the Northern California Community Loan Fund for their early commitment. There were many others.
Our meeting on March 5th, 2019 at Turtle Rock Park was attended by 35 members of the public, agencies, and Atlantic Richfield. The meeting featured an excellent presentation on the scientific work that has been done at the Leviathan Superfund site by Atlantic Richfield (ARCO), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the California Regional Water Quality Control Board – Lahontan (CRWQCB). In addition suggestions of what qualities/skills members of the ABC would like to see in the new District Ranger were collected.
Since the early 1980s there has been over $200 million dollars spent on various attempts to resolve the problem of acid mine drainage at the old Leviathan mine. Some of that money was used in scientific investigations that provide the base for designing and implementing a robust solution. The Leviathan mine and Leviathan Creek will never be pristine, and they never were, but the downstream effects should be minimal once the project is completed. The most fascinating information was how the present interim measures to control the acid mine drainage were working so well. Studies of the invertebrates that live in the creek bed clearly show the improvement in water quality downstream. It is hoped that all those involved will expedite a permanent fix as soon as possible.
There were ten suggestions on what qualities/skills that members of the ABC would like to see in the new Carson District Ranger. These are being consolidated, along with suggestions from Steve Wilensky of CHIPS, who has much more experience with these issues than the ABC has, and submitted to the Forest Service. Common themes are an ability to work with the local community and collaborative, an ability to work through complex issues with people that may strongly disagree, and a sense of humor and/or a thick skin to help get through tough issues with the public. Again, many thanks are due to Forest Supervisor Bill Dunkelberger and Deputy Forest Supervisor Teresa McClung for this unprecedented opportunity.
Participant Updates: Kimra McAfee reported that the next AWG meeting is March 12th, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm at the Hung A Lel Ti Woodfords Indian Education Center. Kris Hartnett will be reporting on the Community Wildfire Protection Plan and there will be an update on the Hope Valley Restoration and Aquatic Habitat Enhancement Project. David Griffith gave an update on the Forest Management Task Force and also reported there will be an opportunity for public comment on the Alpine County’s public health survey on Thursday, March 7th, from 6 pm -7 pm in the Board of Supervisors chambers. Teresa McClung introduced Kevin Wilmot, Acting District Ranger, HT.
The next meeting is set for Tuesday April 2nd at 6:00 pm at Turtle Rock Park. It will be a planning meeting involving all the agencies that have past, present and future projects which improve forest or watershed health, and which reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires in Alpine County. Members of the public that are concerned with the risk of catastrophic wildfire to their homes and communities are encouraged to participate.
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