A number of policy-related barriers need to be addressed in order to restore our forests and watersheds to a healthier state.
- Controlled burns under appropriate conditions help to thin overgrown forests and reduce the risk of large, damaging fires. However, air quality regulations often restrict the days that forest managers can conduct such burns.
- Policies related to federal funding for fire suppression often result in funds that would otherwise be available for restoration being “swept” to pay for suppression.
- Completion of environmental assessment processes under federal and state regulations can take a year or more, and can be costly. Developing projects on a larger landscape scale may provide greater efficiency in complying with regulations.
What can be done now to encourage an increase in the pace and sale of restoration in the Sierra?
In order to increase in the pace and sale of restoration in the Sierra, and to highlight the alignment of the Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program goals with the state’s long-term goals, it is important to involve our partners and stakeholders in the policy processes that can affect the Region.
You can participate in current state planning processes affecting the Region here.
Good Neighbor Authority: In order to encourage restoration at a larger landscape scale, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) 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 CNRA to complement work on USFS lands over the next ten years, providing a larger-scale, more holistic restoration outcome.
Fire Memorandum of Understanding: 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. Such a 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.