May Meeting Summary & Climate Change Workshop

Our Zoom meeting on May 4th was attended by 12 members of the public and agencies.  The main presentation for the meeting was the role of refugia in wildfires and other disturbances by Dr. Meg Krawchuk of Oregon State.  In addition the ABC approved three letters of support for grant applications.

Even in cases of extreme wildfire there are often pockets of the landscape that are not burned, or only partially burned.  These pockets, or refugia, can be the source of the natural recovery for plants and animals from the wildfire.  Although seeds from surviving trees may not fall more than five or ten meters from a tree, burrowing animals etc. can transport the seeds as much as 250 meters from a tree over a 15 year period.  Often the same refugia is left relatively untouched after more than one wildfire, suggesting topography, prevailing wind direction, or available moisture among other factors may be controls on where refugia survive.  This can be important in firefighting as knowing where these refugia are likely to be suggests safe areas for fire fighters and preferred locations for fuel breaks.

Letters of Support:  The ABC approved the following letters of support for grant applications:

Alpine County received a letter of support for its grant application to the Sierra Nevada Conservancy for implementation of the Wildfire Risk Mitigation Plan Tier 1 projects.

The Regional Forest and Fire Capacity Program for the East Side (Alpine, Mono, and Inyo counties) received a letter of support for its grant application to CalFire for its proposed program to educate dispersed campers on the dangers of wildfire.

Alpine County received a letter of support for its grant application to CalFire for the Hot Springs Fuel Reduction Project on Forest Service land from west of Grover’s Hot Springs State Park along Hot Springs Road to near Markleevillage and then south of Markleevillage.

Hot Springs Fuels Reduction Project:  This project, which is on Forest Service land was discussed and supported at the ABC’s April meeting.  It ties together adjacent projects by State Parks at Grover’s Hot Springs, a CalVTP project in the Shay Creek Subdivision by CalFire, the hoped for Wildfire Risk Mitigation Plan Tier 1 Markleevillage project, and a BLM fuels reduction project adjacent to Hot Springs Road.  Although the project is on Forest Service land, the Forest Service does not currently have the resources to apply for and administer the grant.  Alpine County has volunteered to be the project applicant, and is able to file the grant application with the ABC preparing the application.  The ABC is able to do this thanks to a generous anonymous donor that has committed up to $20,000 to cover the cost of preparing the grant application.  This would be the first fuels reduction project in Alpine County that approaches the pace and scale of fuels reduction that is needed to restore forest resilience and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire.

Effect of a Changing Climate on the Eastern Sierra Region:  For those interested in possible effects of climate change on where we live and our economy there is a presentation of the Sustainable Recreation and Tourism Initiative’s Regional Climate Adaptation & Resilience Assessment: “A Changing Climate | Vulnerability in California’s Eastern Sierra”.  The presentation will cover research and conclusions in the following three areas: Climate Adaptation & Resilience Assessment, Natural Capital & Ecosystem Services Analysis, and Recommended Actions.  The presentation will be via Zoom on May 12th at 2:00 pm and will be part of a special joint workshop of the Mammoth Lakes Town Council and their Planning & Economic Development Commission.  It covers the entire Eastern Sierra Region, including Inyo, Mono, and Alpine counties, the Humboldt-Toiyabe and Inyo National Forests, and five units of the National Parks system.  To join click on  Regardless of one’s opinion on climate change and what should be done about it, the presentation should be worth attending.

Participant Updates:  Brian Newman reported that he anticipates burning permits will be suspended by the end of May due to dry conditions and an uptick in fire activity locally and statewide.  Subsequent to the ABC meeting CalFire issued a suspension of burn permits in Alpine County starting Monday May 10th at 12:00 am.  Coreen Francis reported that the BLM is working on removing dead trees from Indian Creek Campground.  Tim Roide has employed a commercial firewood business for the job and he can share their contact information for anyone who needs dead trees removed from their property.  January Riddle reported that the Alpine Trails Association Day is June 12th at Curtz Lake.  There will be docents and guided hikes.  Matt Millar reported that the NFF is finalizing a master agreement with the Humboldt-Toiyabe.  Anna Belle Monti has been working with the NFF.  This agreement is contingent on several grant applications and would allow for collaborative projects.  Matt Millar said the NFF was interested in possibly signing ABC’s MOU.  Rich Harvey reported that his NRCS grant application is still pending.  He also reported that there were an estimated 20 campfires at the airport and he inquired about bans from USFS and BLM.  Coreen Francis will report the campfires to law enforcement.

Future Meetings:  June: Post-fire Restoration Framework for National Forests in California, Dr. Marc Meyer, et al., USFS.  Any suggestions for possible speakers are welcome.  There was not a ringing endorsement of returning to in-person meetings and so the June meeting will be via Zoom.

The June meeting will be via video conference at 6:00 pm on Tuesday June 1st.

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