Recovery After a Million Acre Fire

Our next meeting will be at 6:00 pm on Tuesday February 7th at Turtle Rock Park.  Dr. Jonathan Kusel of the Sierra Institute for Community and Environment will be making a presentation on a community’s recovery after the 2021 one-million acre Dixie Fire.  There was a lot of interest in learning about what went right and what went wrong during the 2018 Camp Fire that burned through the city of Paradise, and the County sponsored a well-attended town hall meeting with the Butte County Sheriff and others.  This meeting will be how a community can recover after a major fire by taking advantage of new opportunities.

There will also be a discussion on what, if anything, can be done to improve forest health and resilience at the necessary pace and scale now that Measure D has prohibited a biomass facility in eastern Alpine County.

Biography:  Jonathan Kusel is founder and executive director of the Sierra Institute for Community and Environment.  He received a Ph.D. in Natural Resource Sociology and Policy from U.C. Berkeley, where he taught before launching the Sierra Institute in northern California.  He holds a Masters in Forest Science from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Dr. Kusel helped lead a team evaluating community and social implications of climate change in the Sierra as part of California’s 4th Climate Assessment in 2018, and also led a team that built a small biomass-powered energy facility for rural Plumas County’s Health and Human Services Center.  The facility is housed in the first full cross laminated timber building constructed in California.  Dr. Kusel helps coordinate and facilitate the South Lassen Watershed Group, a landscape collaborative group involving over 25 groups and agencies focused on a one-million-acre area that begins at the top of Mt. Lassen.  He also leads a Sierra Institute team that coordinates the Sierra to California All-lands Enhancement (SCALE) project that convenes landscape collaboratives from across the State of California including Alpine County to share lessons with state and federal agencies and advance peer learning.

Abstract:  The 2021 Dixie Fire burned through the Sierra Institute’s home community, destroying much of the town of Greenville.  Working with partners, Sierra Institute is now building single-family cross laminated timber homes to help residents who lost their homes in the Dixie Fire and pilot home and community hardening using mass timber.  The Institute is also partnering with local businesses to make productive use of the burned timber and provide good paying jobs for residents.

Measure D, which bans “biomass facilities” from eastern Alpine County, passed overwhelmingly.  There will be a discussion of what alternatives there might be that could help improve forest health and resilience at the necessary pace and scale.  It is hoped that people on both sides of the argument over Measure D will participate.  The problem of declining forest health and resilience, and increased risk of severe fire isn’t going away on its own, so we do need to come up with something.

Future Meetings:  To avoid meeting fatigue and not conflict with upcoming County meetings on the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP), our meeting schedule will shift to every two months until June or August.  In March, May, and maybe July the County will be hosting meetings on the CWPP.  Please send suggestions for future speakers to  Presentations need to be on topics that relate to our mission statement.

Thanks to Alpine County Public Health for their support.

When stress arises, take a break and meditate.

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