Author: wpadmin

New WIP Web Story Available

Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program History and Accomplishments Web Story

The Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program History and Accomplishments web story provides viewers with an overview of our progress made to date and efforts underway to help make our forests and watersheds more resilient to future stressors. Visit the following segments to learn more:

You can also access the web story by visiting our Multimedia tab.

Record 129 Million Dead Trees in California



Stephanie Gomes,
Tree Mortality Team Lead,
U.S. Forest Service

Scott McLean
Information Officer
(916) 651-FIRE

December 12, 2017


Record 129 Million Dead Trees in California

USDA Forest Service and CAL FIRE Working Together to Address Forest Health

VALLEJO, Calif., December 11, 2017 – The USDA Forest Service today announced that an additional 27 million trees, mostly conifers, died throughout California since November 2016, bringing the total number of trees that have died due to drought and bark beetles to an historic 129 million on 8.9 million acres. The dead
trees continue to pose a hazard to people and critical infrastructure, mostly centered in the central and southern Sierra Nevada region of the state.

“The number of dead and dying trees has continued to rise, along with the risks to communities and firefighters if a wildfire breaks out in these areas,” said Randy Moore, Regional Forester of the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region. “It is apparent from our survey flights this year that California’s trees have not yet recovered from the drought, and remain vulnerable to beetle attacks and increased wildfire threat. The USDA Forest Service will continue to focus on mitigating hazard trees and thinning overly dense forests so they are healthier and better able to survive stressors like this in the future.”

Moore continued, “To increase the pace and scale of this important work, we need to fix how fire suppression is funded. Last year fire management alone consumed 56 percent of the USDA Forest Service’s national budget. As fire suppression costs continue to grow as a percentage of the USDA Forest Service’s budget, funding is shrinking for non-fire programs that protect watersheds and restore forests, making them more resilient to wildfire and drought.”

Though California received record-breaking rains in the winter of 2016-2017, the effects of five consecutive years of severe drought in California, a dramatic rise in bark beetle infestation and rising temperatures have led to historic levels of tree die-off. The Tree Mortality Task Force (TMTF), with support from the Governor’s office and comprised of more than 80 local, state and federal agencies and private utility companies, continues to remove hazardous dead trees. To date, the TMTF members have collectively felled or removed over 1 million dead trees; this includes over 480,000 dead trees felled or removed by the USDA Forest Service.

The TMTF members are using a triage approach to this tree mortality crisis, first focusing on public safety by removing dead and dying trees in high hazard areas. To further improve forest health, the USDA Forest Service and CAL FIRE have increased their pace and scale of prescribed fire. The USDA Forest Service has treated over 55,000 acres and CAL FIRE has completed over 33,000 acres in fuel treatment projects. By combining tree removal with prescribed fire, crews will be able to decrease overly dense stands of trees, reduce greenhouse gases, and protect communities across the state.

“Tree mortality at this magnitude takes on-going cooperation between public, non-profit and private entities,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE director and California’s state forester. “California’s forests are a critical part of the State’s strategy to address climate change. By working together and using all the resources at our disposal we will be able to make more progress towards our common goal of healthier, more resilient forests that benefit all Californians.”

With record breaking levels of tree die-off, the TMTF has used this event as an opportunity to collaborate on several fronts: from public workshops about reforestation, public outreach in urban and rural areas, and awarding over $21 million in grants aimed to protect watersheds, remove dead trees and restore our forests. The TMTF continues to collaborate on the efficient use of resources to protect public safety and build consensus around long-term management strategies for California’s forest lands.

“The Tree Mortality Task force has provided an essential venue for coordination of response efforts, exchange of ideas, reporting, and accountability for the ongoing statewide response to this incident,” said Supervisor Nathan Magsig of Fresno County. “Leadership from the Governor’s Office, CAL FIRE and Office of
Emergency Services has helped to ensure county issues are heard and addressed. Monthly coordination of the 10 most impacted counties has resulted in a more effective use of resources and has allowed counties to share ideas and successes.”

With a staggering 129 million dead trees in the state, the work of the task force is far from over. The strong foundation built will continue to be an advantage as the TMTF continues to address tree mortality and its impacts.

Learn more about tree mortality and the work to restore our forests in California at the USDA Forest Service’s web page Our Changing Forests. To learn about how to be prepared and protect your home against wildfire and your trees against bark beetle attacks visit CAL FIRE’s web page Ready for Wildfire.


Read the full press release

Find out more about tree mortality in the Sierra Nevada Region

New online data library now available

Sierra Nevada Watershed Information Network

Use the Sierra Nevada Watershed Information Network (WIN) to engage with stories, maps, and data focused on the Sierra Nevada Region.

The Sierra Nevada Watershed Information Network provides an online environment that connects resources, partners, successes, failures, lessons learned, needs, opportunities, and existing Watershed Improvement Program (WIP) related efforts. The WIN also provides opportunities to explore new ways of integrating the three pillars of the WIP (investment, policy, and infrastructure) in order to restore Sierra Nevada forests to a state of health and resilience.

Access the WIN by visiting the WIN tab in the menu at the top of this website.

New partnership established to protect Tahoe and the Central Sierra



For Immediate Release:

August 23, 2017


Media Contacts: 

Brittany Covich, Sierra Nevada Conservancy: (530) 823-4686 or

Chris Mertens, California Tahoe Conservancy: (530) 543-6057 or

Paul Wade, U.S. Forest Service: (707) 562-9010 or

New partnership established to protect Tahoe and the Central Sierra

(SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif.) – Yesterday at the 21st annual Lake Tahoe Summit, the creation of a new partnership of state, federal, environmental, industry, and research representatives working together to protect Lake Tahoe and the surrounding central Sierra Nevada was announced. The effort, the Tahoe-Central Sierra Initiative, is focused on restoring the health and resilience of the area’s forests and watersheds. It builds on the legacy of work that has been done to “Keep Tahoe Blue,” and a variety of activities already underway in the Central Sierra landscape. These include innovative approaches designed to reduce the risks and impacts from large, damaging wildfires and unprecedented tree die-off.

“Here at Lake Tahoe, we are reminded once again of the effects of climate change on our landscape. Restoring the health and resilience of our forests is critical, and efforts such as the Tahoe-Central Sierra Initiative are essential in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with wildfire and tree mortality,” said California Natural Resources Agency Secretary John Laird.

Contrary to what many visitors believe, forests in this area are overgrown, unhealthy, and primed for fast-moving wildfires and the rapid spread of insects and disease. Across the state, more than 102 million trees have died from drought, insects, and disease since 2010, and according to the most recent State of the Lake Report, the number of dead trees in the Lake Tahoe Basin has more than doubled from 35,000 to 72,000 in the last year.

“Our window for action is closing. We need a new strategy to accelerate the forest management activities that will protect the Tahoe-Central Sierra area from landscape-changing events like tree mortality or another Angora or King Fire,” said U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region Regional Forester Randy Moore.

The primary goal of Tahoe-Central Sierra Resilient Forest Initiative (TCSI) is to improve the health and resiliency of the forest ecosystems and communities in the TCSI landscape, ensuring that the wide variety of benefits that the region provides continue in to the future. The TCSI is focused on the landscape of the Lake Tahoe Basin and the American, Bear, Truckee, and Yuba watersheds, which are crucial for downstream communities, agricultural interests, recreationalists, and the environment.

“The Tahoe-Sierra landscape is a water source for California and northern Nevada communities. The forested watersheds here contain large amounts of carbon, produce wood products and clean energy, are a hotspot of biodiversity, and are a recreational playground for millions of visitors year round,” says Jim Branham, Executive Officer for the Sierra Nevada Conservancy.

The effort is already producing results, as last week CAL FIRE announced the award of a $5 million grant to the Sierra Nevada Conservancy to implement high-priority forest health projects within the TCSI area. Work will occur on three priority landscape management units within the Tahoe-Central Sierra area: The South Fork of the American River Watershed (SOFAR), the Lake Tahoe West Restoration Partnership (Lake Tahoe West), and the Tahoe Headwaters Treasured Landscape. These three landscapes stretch across federal, state, local, and private lands that are state and local priorities for collaborative action due to the complex issues facing them, and the values that are at risk.

“This region is home to several large-scale collaborative efforts to improve the health and resiliency of our forests and watersheds,” said Patrick Wright, Executive Director of the California Tahoe Conservancy. “This initiative will connect these efforts to achieve new breakthroughs in how we manage these landscapes, from expanding the use of fire, increasing carbon storage, and streamlining permitting, to establishing new markets for wood products and bioenergy.”

The TCSI is led by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and the California Tahoe Conservancy, in partnership with the United States Forest Service Region 5, USFS Pacific Southwest Research Station, The Nature Conservancy, National Forest Foundation, University of California, Natural Reserve System-Sagehen Creek Field Station, and the California Forestry Association, with additional partners becoming engaged as the effort gains momentum.

*Additional information about the TCSI can be found at

*A short video about the TCSI is available at

*View the live stream video interview with U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region Regional Forester, Randy Moore:

*View the live stream video interview with U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station Director, Alex Friend:

*View the video interview with California Natural Resources Agency Secretary, John Laird:

*View the video interview with CAL FIRE Chief, Ken Pimlott:

*All full-length interviews can be found in this YouTube playlist:

*View the digital page about the TCSI:

*View the Memorandum of Understanding for the TCSI:

*View the fact sheet about the TCSI:

Summit Video

The Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program Summit: The Forest Carbon Story

This video includes welcome and opening remarks from the Summit on March 3, 2016 and a presentation by Dr. Matthew Hurteau. Sierra Nevada forests play an important role in California’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt for climate change. However, the health of Sierra Nevada forests is declining, and this once reliable greenhouse gas solution may be at risk of becoming an emissions challenge. This summit will explore the impacts that treatments to reduce high-severity wildfire risk have on long-term carbon storage in Sierra forests, and will highlight efforts by state and federal agencies to incorporate forest restoration into their greenhouse gas reduction efforts.

Increasing investment

Increasing investment for needed restoration:

California voters passed Proposition 1, The Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Bond Act of 2014, on November 4, 2014. $25 million dollars of this fund was allocated to the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and the Conservancy has already begun investing these needed funds in to projects that support the goals of the WIP. To learn more about projects that have been funded through Proposition 1, visit the Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s web page.

Prescribed Fire MOU

Prescribed Fire MOU

Several Federal and State agency officials, along with conservation and community fire protection groups, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote the careful and expanded use of fire as a restoration tool. A careful and expanded prescribed fire program will lower the likelihood of large, uncontrollable fires by reducing the amount of fuel available to burn and will limit pollution from larger wildfire events. Because of steep terrain, limited roads, and other factors, fire use is an increasingly important and low cost tool for protecting rural communities and the many benefits flowing from these watersheds.

Expanding restoration

Expanding restoration activities by addressing needed policy changes

Good Neighbor Authority: In order to encourage restoration at a larger landscape scale, the U.S. Forest Service and the California Natural Resources Agency signed a Good Neighbor Authority master agreement, facilitating expanded federal-state partnerships to increase and streamline vital restoration work across all lands. This agreement allows agencies within the California Natural Resources Agency to complement work on U.S. Forest Service lands over the next ten years, providing a larger-scale, more holistic restoration outcome.

Working to understand

Working to understand the amount and types of restoration work needed in the Sierra

Information on critical issues and restoration opportunities are being compiled at the watershed level to provide baseline knowledge of the on-the-ground conditions and restoration needs across the Sierra Nevada. These assessments will help identify areas best suited for deploying a more detailed assessment process, and provide a basis for exploring new models for accomplishing restoration work more effectively.