February Meeting Summary

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Photo by Mary Rawson

Our meeting on February 4th, 2019 at Turtle Rock Park was attended by 18 members of the public and agencies.  There was a presentation on things that need to be taken into account when considering owning and operating a biomass-to-bioenergy facility.  The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was approved and the signing ceremony is planned for the April meeting.  Updates were given on the scoping study, and the Eastern Sierra Sustainable Recreation Partnership (ESSRP).

Steve Brink of the California Forestry Association gave a presentation on what needs to be taken into account when considering a biomass-to-bioenergy facility.  He reviewed biomass supply, typical capital and operating costs for different types and sizes of facilities, and the challenge posed by competition from subsidized solar and wind energy.  His presentation is available on ABC’s download page.

Organization Update:  The MOA was approved and a signing ceremony is planned for the April meeting.  Agencies and organizations will have one representative, but individuals who belong to a particular agency or organization may also sign as individuals.  Please check with your organization or agency to determine who will be signing, or whether you need to sign as an individual.

Scoping Study Update:  High Sierra Community Energy will be presenting the scoping study at the March 3rd meeting, and will also be making a short presentation at the Board of Supervisors March 3rd meeting.  It will also be posted on ABC’s download page as soon as it is received.  The two preliminary reports are already posted on ABC’s download page.

Hot Springs Road Corridor Update:  It is expected that CALFIRE will be announcing the awards in about a month.

ESSRP:  The Gateway Community Workshops have started and the one for Alpine County and northern Mono County is scheduled for July 16th in Walker.  Project ideas are being solicited and as soon as the project idea forms are ready they will be posted on ABC’s download page.  Current informal proposals for Alpine County include applying for a National Scenic Byway designation for Hwy. 89 from US 95 to the Tahoe Basin, public washrooms in Markleeville, an RV dump station, electric vehicle charging stations in Markleeville, and trail improvements or new trails.  The emphasis needs to be on improving the visitor experience with regard to outdoor recreation and have a benefit to the region as a whole.

Participant Updates:  (Updates that were not related to the ABC mission statement are not included)  Mark Schwartz reported on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce that registration for the 40th Anniversary Death Ride is open.  The ride is Alpine County’s biggest fundraiser; it generated $90,000 last year.  Jerry Lloyd, AWG, shared a warning about toxicity from algal bloom at Wet Meadows, Indian Creek and Red Lake.  Warning signs are not always visible.  Anna Belle Monti reported the Humboldt-Toiyabe is adding onto the Markleevillage Fuels Reduction Project next summer.  Future work includes aspen stand restoration and prescribed fire on Monitor Pass.  Helen Fillmore, Outreach Coordinator for the AWG, reported that she is recruiting two volunteers for water monitoring March 12th – 14th.  She can be contacted at awg.helen@gmail.com.  Thurman Roberts reported that there will be a job fair on March 7th at the Hung A Lel Ti gym.  Successful candidates will demonstrate a passion for forest restoration and an ability to perform demanding physical labor.  He also reported that he is doing outreach to expand the work of the CHIPS crew.  Corinne Francis reported she is working on coordinating an Aspen Restoration Training.  The training date will be announced at the next meeting.  She also reported that the BLM is prioritizing Tribal Biomass Demonstration Projects and that she will send detailed information to David Griffith to post.  The BLM was awarded a $4.5 million Forest Health grant form CALFIRE for a thinning and understory burning project in Tulare County.  The NEPA and cultural surveys have already been completed.  David Griffith reported that the Forest Management Task Force is slowly moving towards identifying projects.  The SNC has funding for capacity building grants which the ABC may qualify for.  Tuolomne County is trying a new strategy to shorten the CEQA process and Alpine County may join this effort.  Home Hardening can increase a home’s chance of surviving a catastrophic fire and the cost is roughly $25,000 per home.  Financing is available.  CALFire is hosting a Forestry and Resource Management Course for private landowners.  Participants will be able to create their own timber harvesting plan with oversight by a professional forester.  David Griffith also reported that the California Insurance Commissioner’s Office is changing rules regarding policies; rates will increase.  Avery Hellman reported she and Andy Hellman attended the California Rangeland Conservation Coalition Resources on using grazing for fuels management, including a list of providers in California, will be posted online. Avery and Andy Hellman are sponsoring a folk music festival on their property on Carson River Road. The event is tentatively scheduled for the weekend of August 28th. There will be a low ticket price for locals and local musicians will participate.

The next meeting is set for Tuesday March 3rd at 6:00 pm at Turtle Rock Park.  The scoping study on what, if any, productive use can be made of the excess biomass in our forest, which will improve forest health, reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, and improve the local economy.

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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