Extended drought conditions and insect infestations have caused extensive mortality of many tree species throughout the Sierra Nevada, bringing the threat of falling trees, potential for extreme wildfire intensity with associated risks to communities and loss of habitat for wildlife, according to Sierra National Forest officials.
Post-fire sedimentation in reservoirs may also result in degraded water quality and reduced water storage and availability.
To combat these issues, the Sierra National Forest and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) aim to implement the Central Sierra Recovery and Restoration Project.
The agencies have been awarded $3.3 million, officials announced Feb. 10, to implement the project to continue to improve the health and resiliency of forest ecosystems where public forests and grasslands connect to private lands.
“This collaboration is helping local partners meet the growing challenges that come with protecting communities, watersheds, forests and woodlands from the devastating and costly impacts of wildfires and other threats, protecting water resources, and improving wildlife habitat,” said Dean Gould, forest supervisor for the Sierra National Forest.
The Central Sierra Recovery and Restoration Project encompasses the front country of the Sierra National Forest and adjacent private lands from the Merced River to the Kings River. The project area covers more than 400,000 acres of National Forest System lands as well as private ranches and timberlands, organizational camps, recreation residences and 12 isolated communities and subdivisions. This area also provides habitat for many threatened, endangered and at-risk species.
“With this funding, our vision is to restore landscapes, reduce wildfire threats to communities and landowners, protect water quality and supply, and improve habitat for at-risk species, while working seamlessly across public and private lands,” said Curtis Tarver, assistant state conservationist for NRCS in California.
Through the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership, NRCS and the Forest Service will invest $32 million nationwide in fiscal year 2017, add 10 new projects and support 26 ongoing partnership projects. Partners will bring an additional $30 million through financial and in-kind contributions over three years for implementing the 10 new projects.