February Meeting Summary

Our Zoom meeting on February 2nd was attended by 17 members of the public and agencies.  Dr. Scott Stephens of the University of California at Berkeley made an excellent presentation on what needs to be done to return our forests to a healthy and resilient state.

Although those that follow climate scientists believe that the changing climate is the overwhelming cause of the increase in amount and severity of wildland fires, scientists that concentrate their research on forests are more of the opinion that the unhealthy condition of our forests is a more important factor.  The forests of today are very different to what they were prior to European settlement.  Today they are much denser, and consequently they are less resilient when stressed as there is not enough water and nutrients to sustain them.  So, how do we get back to resilient forests?  Dr. Stephen’s presentation showed how it has been done with multi-year programs of thinning and prescribed fire which returns the forest to a more sustainable and resilient state.  Unfortunately multi-year programs have not been embraced by land managers, decision makers, or grant-making agencies.

Even if climate change was to disappear tomorrow, our forests would still not be healthy and resilient.  But by following the recommendations of Dr. Stephens and other forest researchers we can return our forests to the healthy and resilient state they were in prior to European settlement.

As promised, Dr. Stephens provided us with three references.  For a more detailed look at the work behind his presentation go here.  Two more papers that are of interest are here and here.

Participant Updates:  Zach Wood reported the county is seeking community support for working on private property as part of the Wild Fire Risk Mitigation Plan.  Shane Rasmos reported he is the STPUD liaison for Alpine County; he looks forward to working with the ABC.  Rich Harvey reported his NRCS grant proposal was not funded; he has resubmitted it and will hear in a few months.  Mo Loden reported the next AWG meeting is March 9th at 5:30 and will include discussion on the impact of recreation on the watershed.  She encouraged participants to visit the AWG website to participate in a survey for project ideas.  Matt Driscoll reported the SNC hopes for $70 million from the Wild Fire Forest Resilience funds from the Governor’s budget.  $20 million will be used this fiscal year for immediate action projects.  The SNC will approve guidelines in March 2021.  Matt Driscoll has talked to David Griffith about CEQA ready projects in Alpine County.  Mark Schwartz reported the next Water Company meeting is February 18th from 9-10 am.  For more information visit markleevillewatercompany@gmail.com.  Mark Schwartz reported the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce has submitted a planning permit to change the Death Ride by replacing Carson Pass with a route from Hermit Valley to east of Lake Alpine.  It’s hopeful the Death Ride will happen this year.  There will be a virtual ghost ride version of the Death Ride on April 3rd.  Coreen Francis reported on behalf of Tim Roide.  The BLM has signed ABC’s MOU.  The BLM was funded to conduct brush and tree thinning on 280 acres this fall from September-November 2021.  The risks outweighed the benefits on the downslope portion of the Poor Boy Ridge Project.  Future projects include funding requests for 210 acres adjacent to Fredericksburg with treatment from September – November 2022.  Anna Belle Monti reported more fuels reduction on Hot Springs Road last fall.  USFS has been working with CHIPS in the same area.  Fuel permits are available to purchase at the Alpine Chamber of Commerce.  There are piles to burn in the Pleasant Valley area;  USFS is waiting for a better weather window to proceed.

Future Meetings:  March:  Aspen Restoration In Utah With Applicability To the Intermountain West, Dr. Stanley Kitchen.  April:  Presentation on prescribed and managed fire with Matt Zumstein, Carson District Ranger with the Humboldt-Toiyabe N.F. and  Phill Kiddoo, Executive Director with the Great Basin Air Pollution Control District on the District’s Smoke Management Plan.  May:  Presentation on the role and importance of refugia after wildfires, Dr. Meg Krawchuk of the University of Oregon.  Any suggestions for possible speakers are welcome.

The March meeting will be via video conference at 6:00 pm on Tuesday March 2nd.

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