Over the last two weeks Lassen County Fire Safe Council, Inc. (LCFSC) has been notified of grant awards totaling $16,405,844 for projects that will improve forest and watershed health and reduce wildfire risk for Lassen County communities. The project work will be implemented over the next three years. All the awarded funds come from the segment of the California Climate Investments (CCI) program that is administered by CAL FIRE. CCI is a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment, particularly in disadvantaged communities. The awarded grants include funds as follows:
Diamond Mountain Forest & Watershed Restoration Project $4,760,348
South Eagle Lake WUI Fuel Treatments $3,274,620
Big Valley Mountain WUI Fuel Treatments $7,922,828
Clear Creek WUI Fuel Treatments $448,048
LCFSC’s Diamond Mountain Initiative (DMI) was awarded $4,760,348 in funds to implement a portion of its Diamond Mountain Forest and Watershed Restoration Project on the Lassen National Forest. The project will restore 4,511 acres of mixed conifer forest and aspen stands. Treatments will consist of the thinning of mixed conifer forest and aspen stands, using uneven-aged management to increase stand complexity and carbon sequestration within all forest types. The funds for this grant come from the CCI/Forest Heath Grant Program that has a primary focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. DMI is an initiative that has its roots in local grass roots action spearheaded early on by local rancher Hannah Tangeman who led a petition drive that accumulated over 1,000 signatures in support of fuel reduction efforts on the Lassen National Forest.
Since 2013 the Lassen County Community Wildfire Protection Plan Working Group (WG) has identified Diamond Mountain as one its highest priorities for hazardous fuels/watershed restoration treatments. In 2014 the WG decided that the LCFSC should take the lead in developing a public/private partnership to address the issue. On that basis LCFSC formed the Diamond Mountain Initiative (DMI) in order to begin moving forward with both public and private land projects that would fortify our previous treatments within the community and restore and protect the watershed. DMI began meeting on a monthly basis and has also conducted scoping meetings. Members of the group include the Lassen (LNF) & Plumas National Forests, BLM, CAL FIRE, Lassen County, Honey Lake Valley RCD, W.M. Beaty and Associates, local fire departments, HL Power, several Registered Professional Foresters and numerous interested citizens.
Early on LCFSC received grants from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) and CAL FIRE for work on private lands within the Diamond Mountain watershed. In 2015 SNC awarded LCFSC an additional grant to provide funds to LCFSC to assist LNF with completing federal environmental clearance (NEPA) in order to move the project forward on National Forest lands. This was followed up with an additional grant from the Lassen County Resource Advisory Committee to assist LCFSC with gaining state environmental clearance (CEQA) so that the project could qualify for State of California project implementation funding.
“The Lassen County Fire Safe Council, Inc. would like to especially thank three Lassen National Forest employees for their outstanding efforts in moving this project forward” said Lloyd Keefer. “Chuck Lewis, Bobette Jones and Lindsay Grayson provided key support to LCFSC in helping write the highly technical proposal that was the basis for this grant award.”
The other three recently awarded grants come from the CAL FIRE administered CCI/Fire Prevention fund.
The recent Whaleback fire clearly demonstrated the need for the $3,274,620 South Eagle Lake WUI Fuel Treatments project. LCFSC developed the project over the last several years in cooperation with forest landowners and managers Sierra Pacific Industries, WM Beaty and Associates and Fruit Growers Supply. The project will restore the forest and watershed, and reduce hazardous fuel loads on 5,737 acres of forest at the south end of Eagle Lake and funds will also be available to remove dead, dying and hazard trees within the Lake Forest community. Forest thinning and removing forest fuels will limit the spread of wildfire on the landscape; removal of dead and dying trees from around homes and powerlines will reduce the risk of property damage from wildfire and powerline ignitions.
The $7,922,828 Big Valley Mountain WUI Fuel Treatments project will treat hazardous fuel loads on a landscape scale within and between the communities of Day Lassen Bench and Lookout. LCFSC developed the project in cooperation with forest landowners and managers Sierra Pacific Industries and WM Beaty and Associates and the Day Lassen Bench Fire Safe Council, Inc. The project will restore the forest and watershed, and reduce hazardous fuel loads on 13,400 acres of forest on and below Big Valley Mountain. Selective thinning and forest fuel removal will reduce wildfire intensity and spread and improve forest health. In addition, work will also be conducted to reduce wildfire risk in the community corridors of Day Lassen Bench and Lookout. All the work lies within High and Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones which will help to avoid substantial carbon losses from wildfire.
The $448,048 Clear Creek WUI Fuel Treatments project will remove dead, dying and hazard trees within the Clear Creek community and also create a shaded fuel break along Indian Ole Road. The project was developed in partnership with Sierra Pacific Industries and will be implemented through a cooperative agreement with LCFSC and the Clear Creek Community Service District. The removal of dead and dying trees from around homes and powerlines will reduce the risk of property damage from fire and reduce the risk of ignitions from these sources; construction of a fuel break will limit the spread of wildfire on the landscape.
“All of these projects were developed through important partnerships with forest landowners, local communities and the Lassen County Board of Supervisors,” said Tom Esgate, LCFSC Managing Director. “In particular, Lassen County’s support of our efforts with Title III funds was critical to our success in obtaining these grant awards.”