Our meeting on November 6th, 2018 at Turtle Rock Park was attended by 30 members of the public and agencies. This was the best attendance since our kickoff meeting.
Steve Wilensky and Irvin Jim presented the history of the Calaveras Healthy Impact Product Solutions (CHIPS) and the Washoe Crew. It is an inspiring story of perseverance in the face of cynicism and negativity yielding to recognized success. CHIPS, which started some 14 years ago as a group of dedicated volunteers trying to rescue their community is now a significant enterprise employing over 40 people in forest and watershed restoration, fuels reduction, cultural site restoration and more. With the exception of the ski resorts, CHIPS is now the largest private employer in Alpine County with some 20 members of the Hung-a-lel-ti community on the payroll. This would not have happened without the full support of the Wahoe Tribe and its members.
CHIPS concentrates its hiring in disadvantaged communities where many residents may have been unemployed for an extended period of time. While this presents its challenges, it is also extremely rewarding to see people take advantage of the opportunity to improve their lives and those of their families. The work experience these individuals get will also help them should they decide to change jobs in the future. Although it has grown tremendously, CHIPS is still a volunteer operation. Directors and management at CHIPS are all volunteers. Only the field crews are paid.
Less Talk, More Action. It was agree that the ABC needs to move from learning about the science of forest and watershed health to doing something about it. Our first project planning session will be at the January 8th meeting. The BLM has kindly offered to build a GIS of past, present and planned projects in the County. To date the Forest Service, BLM, CALFIRE, State Parks, Mule Deer Foundation, and the Alpine Watershed Group have indicated they plan to participate and hopefully one or two others will join in as well.
A decision from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) on our grant application is apparently still pending Congress’s approval of the Dept. of Commerce’s budget for FY 2019. The EDA has requested some additional information which has been sent to them.
Participant updates included the following. Kimra McAfee, AWG, announced that David Griffith and Peggy Ristorcelli will present a short geological history of Alpine County, November 13th, 5:30-7:00, at the Woodfords Indian Education Center. Irene Davidson reported the Christmas tree permit sales have begun and the permits will be effective beginning December 1st. Matt Driscoll reported SNC’s Strategic Land Conservation Grant Program Guideline webinar is Friday, November 9th. It will be recorded. Once the public comment period is complete there will be finalized grant deadlines to report. Mo Loden introduced the new AmeriCorps volunteers, Taylor Norton and Shauna Langan. Ron Hames reported that the County voted to send in a petition to recall the Lands Access Pass. Lewis Ames offered his support in strengthening the ability of the ABC to implement projects. Coreen Francis reported that the BLM and the HT have been collaborating with the Northern Nevada Corrections Power Plant to explore options for reopening the site. David Griffith reported that the Alpine Fire Safe Council (AFSC) and the County are working to decide whether to apply for this round of CalFire Fire Prevention grants; the ABC will continue its efforts to bring the AFSC and the County into the ABC. The AFSC was awarded $112,000 this year and will focus on small projects in the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI); funds cannot be used for defensible space.
The next meeting is set for Tuesday December 4th at 6:00 pm at Turtle Rock Park. It will feature a presentation by Kevin Vella of the National Wild Turkey Federation. The National Wild Turkey Federation does a lot of forest and habitat restoration on Forest Service lands nationally. January will be a planning meeting as discussed above. February will feature a science presentation by Atlantic Richfield and the Environmental Protection Agency on the Leviathan Superfund site.
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