Tuesday, April 12, 2016

FireScape Mendocino Works to Help Shape Forest Future

Participants Discuss Forest Management Concepts
Upper Lake Ranger District, Mendocino NF
Photo: Kimberly Baker

On April 6 and 7, over fifty-five participants attended FireScape Mendocino’s  8th workshop held in Upper Lake, CA to learn about how we can help shape the future of our fire-prone landscape in and near the Mendocino National Forest.

Guy Duffner Opens FireScape Mendocino Public Meeting
Upper Lake Grange, Upper Lake, CA
Photo: Don Amador

 To date, attendees in FireScape activities have included participants from local governments, Forest Service, state water boards, Indian Tribes, Resource Conservation Districts, OHV, environmental organizations, conservation groups, BLM, Firesafe Councils, private property owners, and other stakeholders.

Participants Prepare for Field Day
Photo: Don Amador

Day one of the meeting included Subgroup updates on recent field trips, conference calls, and work projects.  Those committee reports covered recreation infrastructure, fire ready communities, large-scale vegetation management, communications, and outreach to sister programs.

Bob Schnieder Gives Presentation on Northern Inner Coast Range Conservancy
Photo: Don Amador

Bob Schnieder gave a presentation on the Northern Inner Coast Range State Conservancy.  This is recent legislation (SB1396) introduced by State Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis) and Assemblymember Bill Dodd (D-Napa). 

The proposal has been modeled after the Sierra Nevada Conservancy.  It will work in a collaborative manner with local stakeholders to help fund important conservation projects that can protect natural resources and help provide an economic benefit to rural areas.

FireScape Core Team Member, Chad Roberts, 
Discusses Forest Management with Group
Photo: Don Amador

Later in the morning, Forest staff gave an update on the Lakeview Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project. The purpose of the project is to contribute to ecological restoration by achieving goals established by the Mendocino National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (LRMP) for fire and fuels, chaparral, forest health, timber & other forest products, riparian and aquatic ecosystems, and wildlife and fish. 

Work Group Discusses Field Exercise
Photo: Don Amador

The 2,572 acre project includes treatments within the Upper Lake Wildland Urban Interface.  It includes a combination of prescribed fire, non-commercial and pre-­commercial and commercial thinning, hand and machine piling, and mastication and fuel break construction.

On Day two, participants caravanned up to the Pine Mountain area near Lake Pillsbury for a field learning exercise.  Folks were dispersed into five groups comprised of agency foresters, recreationists, fire/resource specialists, local government, conservationists, and other interests.

Pine Mountain Lookout Cabin
A Popular Reserved Campsite
Photo: Don Amador

The groups were assigned to a specific area where they were to share their values, perspectives, and ideas on what a forest health/fuel treatment project might look like.  Issues discussed included needs for public safety/access, restoring land to historic pine and oak woodland mosaic, creating improved current and future forest condition for the Northern Spotted Owl (NSO), economic opportunities benefitting the local community, protection of Native American Indian cultural resources, improving habitat for hunting and other recreational activities, and making the area resilient to both human and natural fire starts.

FS Specialist, Gary Urdahl, Discusses NSO Habitat
Photo: Don Amador

 There was a sense of urgency to the discussions since the Pine Mountain area has not seen fire in the last 80 years and is vulnerable to burning with high intensity if subjected to a wildfire.  This area provides critical NSO habitat, dispersed recreation opportunities, and reserved camping at the popular Pine Mountain Lookout.

The FireScape Mendocino Core Team will be discussing next steps and our continued efforts to engage local stakeholders to help in a long-term collaborative program to support a healthy and fire resilient Forest and surrounding landscape.