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Forest Restoration Model: ACCG Master Stewardship Signing Event

Forest Restoration Model: ACCG Master Stewardship Signing Event

The Sierra Nevada region provides a wealth of benefits to California. These benefits are in jeopardy because the region desperately needs large-scale restoration. The Amador-Calaveras Consensus Group’s Master Stewardship Agreement, which targets the Upper Mokelumne River Watershed, provides a model for restoring the entire Sierra Nevada region.

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.

WIP Op Ed

Read more about the connection between the Silicon Valley and the Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program in this op ed by Sierra Nevada Conservancy Boardmember Bob Kirkwood. This op ed was featured in the San Jose Mercury News on February 23, 2016.

Bob Kirkwood: Sierra Nevada’s health critical to Silicon Valley

By Bob Kirkwood

Special to the Mercury News

POSTED:   02/23/2016 12:13:52 PM PST |

Many of us understand the importance of the Sierra Nevada to Silicon Valley.

It is our primary source of water. When healthy, its forests clean our air, filter our water, provide habitat for hundreds of species and remove carbon from the air and store it — a critical contribution in fighting climate change. Finally, the Sierra provides world renowned recreational and tourism opportunities readily available to all of us.

However, these benefits are under attack.

Millions of trees are dead from beetle infestation resulting from overgrown forests and drought, leaving entire water catchment areas for major California rivers with ghostly reminders of once healthy, resilient trees.

In this decade, the Sierra Nevada has suffered from an unprecedented amount of severe wildfire, also a product of overgrown forests and drought. The Rim Fire of 2013 was the largest ever in the Sierra Nevada. It left nearly 100,000 acres — the size of San Jose — almost devoid of living vegetation. Multiple fires in 2014 and 2015 have had a similar cumulative impact.

These events do more than leave an ugly landscape. They destroy property and take animal and human life. They produce massive amounts of air pollution and greenhouse gases while fouling our water and destroying important habitat. The erosion that occurs with subsequent rainstorms ends up in lakes and reservoirs, reducing critical water storage capacity.

These events may seem far away from the Bay Area, but they will affect us in a variety of ways.

What can be done? Plenty.

Last year, California’s Sierra Nevada Conservancy joined with the U.S. Forest Service in launching the Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program (“WIP,”www.sierranevada.ca.gov/whip). It will increase the pace and scale of watershed restoration to address the dire situation faced by our Sierra forests.

The program is supported by most relevant local, state and federal agencies, land managers and a diverse group of nonprofit and activist groups. It will increase investment and change policies that are slowing restoration. Without the WIP, the water, clean air, and the beautiful landscape that we take for granted will get scorched.

In the Sierra, increasing the pace and scale of restoration means identifying and prioritizing action on key public and private land segments to improve their health.

In meadows that means raising the water table to increase their natural storage capacity for release of water later in the year.

In forests it means planning and sequencing: thinning of smaller trees, preserving and encouraging carbon storage and growth in larger trees, reducing ladder fuels and thus crown fires in large trees, improving habitat, reducing erosion from poor roads, increasing openings for snow to reach the ground while shading the snow pack so it will melt later in the year, and improving visibility through the forest for animals and people. In some watersheds, segments needing critical work are a priority now. We are about to begin watershed-wide assessments, including cooperating private lands, to guide future work and secure funding to carry out healthy short- and long-term management of Sierra Nevada forests.

Silicon Valley’s well-being is directly linked to the Sierra’s well-being. We and our leaders should support efforts at the state, federal and local levels to restore the Sierra Nevada watersheds.

The Watershed Improvement Program can succeed, but it needs legislative support for funding and more action from the agencies that say they support the plan.

Please encourage the leaders and groups you support to become part of this solution.

Bob Kirkwood of Palo Alto is a board member of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and was a longtime member of the Peninsula Open Space Trust board. He wrote this for this newspaper.

CapRadio Interview

Sierra Nevada Conservancy Executive Officer, Jim Branham, and U.S. Forest Service scientist, Don Yasuda, gearing up to talk about the Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program on Capitol Public Radio's Insight program.

Sierra Nevada Conservancy Executive Officer, Jim Branham, and U.S. Forest Service scientist, Don Yasuda, gearing up to talk about the Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program on Capital Public Radio’s Insight program.

On March 1, 2016, Sierra Nevada Conservancy Executive Officer, Jim Branham, and U.S. Forest Service scientist, Don Yasuda, sat down with the host of Capital Public Radio’s Insight, Beth Ruyak, to talk about the Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program.

Below is a summary of the interview from Capital Public Radio. Listen to the entire interview here.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016 | Sacramento, CA

As California manages the current drought, scientists and policymakers at the US Forest Service and Sierra Nevada Conservancy are looking ahead.

We spoke with Sierra Nevada Conservancy executive director Jim Branham and USFS scientist Don Yasuda about how the joint Watershed Improvement Program can improve the health of California’s forests and water supply. They’re hosting a summit on March 3 to talk about role, positive or negative, that Sierra Nevada forests can play in California’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Branham told Beth Ruyak he’s particularly worried about the Sierra National Forest.

“They’re estimating that half of their trees are dead or dying on their forest landscape, that’s hard to really even fathom because it’s such a significant challenge, and unfortunately we see that tree mortality creeping in a northerly direction,” says Branham. 

Good Neighbor Authority Signed

U.S. Forest Service, California Natural Resources Agency sign master agreement supporting restoration activities

In a move that will increase collaborative forest management in California, the U.S. Forest Service and California Natural Resources Agency recently signed a Good Neighbor Authority (GNA) master agreement. This new agreement will allow state entities within the California Natural Resources Agency to complement the restoration work being done by U.S. Forest Service staff in California over the next 10 years. Supplemental agreements between national forests and California state agencies will tier to the master agreement and specifically identify the work the state can perform on National Forest System (NFS) lands.

Read more on the U.S. Forest Service’s web site: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r5/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD491362

 

Fire MOU Signed

New Partnership Focuses on Increased Use of Fire in California for Natural Resource and Public Benefits

Several Federal and State agency officials, along with conservation and community fire protection groups, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to expand the 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.

 

 

Regional Strategy

DRAFT Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program Regional Strategy now available

The Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program Regional Strategy is now available for public review and comment. The Regional Strategy identifies key information, trends, plans, efforts, and data for major categories influencing watershed health, as well as the process and timeline for implementing the WIP.

Key activities include:

  • assessing watershed restoration needs across the Sierra
  • increasing investment in the Region
  • addressing policy issues to ensure the implementation of needed restoration projects and the infrastructure needed to support such efforts.

The SNC and the USFS Region 5 will act as the primary coordinators of the WIP and partner activity. However, given the scope and scale of this program, your participation will be critical which is why we are reaching out to you, the Region’s stakeholders, to provide your feedback on the WIP Regional Strategy.

The comment period is open until March 18, 2016. Please send comments to SNCWIP@sierranevada.ca.gov.