Forest Service Joint Chiefs projects improve fire resiliency in Northern California and Hawaii
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – The USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region (Region 5) will be investing more than $1.5 million through the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership to support wildfire prevention and resiliency activities through two strategic projects in Northern California and one in Hawaii. They are the Big Flat Community Protection Project, the Butte Valley South Landscape Restoration Project, and the Hawaii Island Wildfire Mitigation and Support Project. The three projects will bring together Tribes, state and local governments, and other partners to help make these important activities successful.
The Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership enables the Forest Service and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to collaborate with agricultural producers and forest landowners to invest in conservation and restoration at a big enough scale to make a difference. Working in partnership at this scale helps reduce wildfire threats, protect water quality and supply, and improve wildlife habitat for at-risk species.
“Region 5 is proud to work with our partners to get more prescribed burning and other fuels treatments on the ground to help prevent future wildfires,” said Jennifer Eberlien, regional forester for Region 5. “Wildfires have no boundaries, and neither should our efforts to reduce wildfire risk and enhance the resilience of our forests, communities, water supplies and working lands.”
The Big Flat Community Protection Project (in Del Norte County) covers more than 11,000 acres dominated by dense stands of even-aged Douglas fir and tanoak that present a high hazardous fuels risk for the remote wildland urban interface (WUI) community of Big Flat. The project goal is to reduce the tree density within these stands to levels that will help protect Big Flat from catastrophic wildfires and create control features to prepare for returning a favorable and historic fire regime to the landscape.
The Butte Valley South Landscape Restoration Project (in Siskiyou County) will treat more than 25,000 acres of public land and 1,000 acres of private land across a larger 76,072 project landscape on Forest Service, NRCS, and private lands. It will build on over 11,000 acres of public and 8,000 acres of private landscape restoration treatments occurring since 2000. The Klamath National Forest and partners have developed the Butte Valley South Landscape Restoration Project near the financially disadvantaged and rural communities of Bray, Tennant, and Mount Hebron in California.
“These projects are excellent examples of how federal, state, and local agencies and partners can use targeted funding to achieve dramatic conservation improvements that achieve wildfire resilience on strategic locations of public and privately owned forestlands, build drought resiliency, and contribute to the nation’s broader effort to combat the impacts of climate change,” said NRCS California State Conservationist Carlos Suarez.
The Hawaii Island Wildfire Mitigation and Support Project makes long-lasting investments to prevent the loss of Hawaii’s most intact native forests from fire. Partners will actively restore degraded gaps in these forests to reduce fragmentation and increase landscape-scale resilience to climate change and invasive plant species. Hawai’i island is experiencing increased drying and warming trends even in areas historically considered to be wet or mesic forest. This project will reforest these areas with native trees and remove highly flammable invasive plants. This project will also create/maintain firebreaks in strategic areas, which can serve as improved access for firefighting as well as conservation management.
Through the new three-year projects, landowners will work with local USDA experts and partners to apply targeted forestry management practices on their land, such as forest thinning, hazardous fuel treatments, creating fire breaks and other systems to meet unique forestry challenges in their area.
The Forest Service manages 18 National Forests in the Pacific Southwest Region, which encompasses over 20 million acres across California, and assists State and Private forest landowners in California, Hawaii and the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands. National forests supply 50 percent of the water in California and form the watershed of most major aqueducts and more than 2,400 reservoirs throughout the state. For more information, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/R5.
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