July Meeting Summary

Our Zoom meeting on July 6th was attended by twelve members of the public and agencies.  The presentation was a video on The Value of Environmental Services and the Risk to Alpine County’s Economy from Climate Change.  It was part of the Eastern Sierra Sustainable Recreation Partnership’s (ESSRP) project to develop sustainable recreation in the eastern Sierra.  The presentation was originally made to the Economic Development Committee of the Town of Mammoth Lakes, one of the ESSRP’s partners.  Other partners include Alpine, Mono, and Inyo counties, the City of Bishop, the Inyo and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forests, the BLM, and National Park Service.

The Eastern Sierra region is largely dependent on natural ecosystems and essential resources to sustain the recreation and tourism economy.  Natural hazards associated with climate change may also adversely affect or degrade the unique landscape in the Eastern Sierra that provides for the recreation-based economy that local communities currently depend on.  An understanding of the economic value supplied by the ecosystem services in the eastern sierra and how climate change may threaten the people, assets, and economic benefits of ecosystem services in the region is important as we move forward.  The economic value of ecosystem services in the eastern sierra is an astounding $95 billion per year, of which over $1 billion per year are from recreation and tourism.  More detail is available in the report Eastern Sierra Sustainable Recreation and Tourism Initiative; A Changing Climate | Vulnerability in California’s Eastern Sierra which is available here.  The following graphic illustrates the value of the different ecosystem services.

AChangingClimateEcoServices

Resource Advisory Committee (RAC):  The Forest Service has received 17 applications for the RAC.  After a review at the local level their recommendations will be passed up the line for a final decision on the RAC membership from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture in Washington.  Hopefully this process will be completed in a few months and the RAC will be able to meet.

Participant Updates:  Shane Romsos: STPUD is working on a water reuse strategy.  Coreen Francis: The BLM is looking at WUI areas in California.  A six member team has been assembled and will be deployed to post-fire areas to make roads safe from hazard trees.  Tim Roide (BLM): Indian Creek campground construction (upgrades) ongoing through likely August.  Continue to run into challenges.  Finished the majority of the hazard tree removal at the Indian Creek Campground.  The Washoe Tribe to pull the last of the firewood out this fall.  Contract awarded for 286 acres of brush and tree thinning for fuels management and forest health on the Poor Boy Ridge, south of Turtle Rock Park, between Curtz and Summit Lakes and in and around the Indian Creek Campground.  Expect to start work this October, finish by Christmas.  Matt Driscoll: The California State budget has been passed but the amount for wildfire prevention funding is unknown.  JT Chevallier: Is looking forward to being a part of the ABC and meeting people in person.  January Riddle: Welcomed JT Chevallier.  The Death Ride is July 17th, some 2,500 riders are registered.  Drive carefully and appreciate the revenue the ride brings to the County.  Anna Belle Monti: The HT was awarded its SNC grant and its CDFW grant for work on 1,200 acres in West Carson and Monitor Pass.  In addition, there are three contracts for summer and fall for West Carson, Monitor Pass and Markleevillage.  Special thanks to Matt Millar and Trevor.  Mo Loden: There is a stakeholder’s meeting on July 13th.  The community is encouraged to attend a meeting at 1:30 pm with the Alpine County Fish & Game Commission.  Afterwards there will be a meeting at Heritage Park to see the progress Caltrans is making on the bridge replacement.  Markleevillle Creek Day is Saturday, September 18th.  AWG needs volunteers at the Death Ride both Friday and Saturday; contact Mo Loden.  Matt Millar: Thanked Anna Belle for working through grants agreements.  There will be funding for local work on fuels reduction (CHIPS) and for the AWG to help monitor aspen restoration.  David Griffith: County is open for business effective Monday July 12th.  On the scoping study the Sierra Institute has retained an engineer to take a 2nd look.  Northstar is looking at a similar system that is estimated to cost half as much.  The scoping study was in part paid for by a $20,000 zero interest forgivable loan from CA Vision to CHIPS.  CHIPS wants to get it off their books and ABC has offered to assume it with the understanding that we are not a good credit risk.  The Alpine Fire Safe Council has an ambitious Fuels Reduction Grant application with CalFire that will do much of the recommended fuels reduction in the Wildfire Risk Mitigation Plan Tier 1 areas.  It will include some logging with the logs to be hauled to the SPI mill at Sonora.  The County will apply for a CA FSC funded coordinator position.  California Air Resources Board (CARB) has released its SmokeSpotter app which is available through the iPhone or Android app stores.  It has some smoke forecasting abilities and will be upgraded over time.

Future Meetings:  There will be no August meeting.  The September meeting will feature Dr. Jeff Dozier of the University of California Santa Barbara’s Earth Research Institute on snow and what we can expect going forward with respect to snow.   Barring another covid surge this will be an in-person meeting.   Any suggestions for possible speakers that fit within our mission statement are welcome.

The September meeting will be at 6:00 pm on Tuesday September 7th at Turtle Rock Park.

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