Yosemite/Sequoia Resource Conservation and Development Council provides valuable services to the community through a variety of projects and initiatives.
Gentry Creek Watershed Improvement Project
The Gentry Creek Watershed Improvement Project is a Category 1 Project located in Northern Mariposa County, near the community of Greely Hill and within the North Fork of the Merced River Watershed. The project area is located in an area that was hit hard by the drought and suffered extreme bark beetle infestation with approximately 77-80% pine mortality. The project successfully reduced fuel loads and increased wildfire resiliency by felling and removing beetle-killed pine trees on 300 acres of private forestland parcels each owned by one of 24 landowners.
In total 2,590 trees were felled and 158 truckloads of timber, approximately 4,000 tons of biomass, were removed from the project area to reduce the community’s fuel load and fire risk.
This project’s most notable/successful project outcome was the partnership with CAL FIRE’s Mt Bullion crew, as well as the coordination with other local efforts such as the Red Tsunami project on the Stanislaus National Forest. Mt. Bullion’s contribution to the slash mastication meant that we were able to remove the additional dead and dying trees that had expired since the project application was submitted. Although the crews experienced multiple delays, in the end they were able to complete all needed mastication on the 300 acres in under 120 days, so the project was completed under budget.
In June 2010 Yosemite West, a residential community adjacent to Yosemite National Park, received their fifth and final National Fire Plan grant to create defensible space. The grant is from the National Park Service through the California Fire Safe Council. The grant will create defensible space on 44.45 acres – the last project area surrounding the 109-acre community. This multiple-year implementation of the fuel reduction projects identified in the Yosemite West Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) has encouraged participation among community members who have seen the success of other phases of the project from prior years.
Project Technical Contact, John Mock explains, “This project brought together members of a sometimes divided, isolated community. Fire safety is one issue that a majority of the community members can agree on. As a result, community members talk more often about other issues and better understand their neighbors.”
The overall CWPP called for multiple types of treatment to remove ladder fuels and understory fuels, including chipping, lop-and-scatter and mastication. The CWPP allowed for modification of prescriptions to address unanticipated issues such as stem density, downed wood, and dead trees. Mariposa County Fire Chief Jim Wilson has described Yosemite West as, “a model for Mariposa County.”
In 2011 alone, Yosemite West was potentially threatened by two wildfires; the Avalanche Fire, and the Motor Fire, which burned a total of 6,400 acres. The project had fuel reduction crews in the community working before the fires started – reinforcing the vital importance of such fuel reduction projects.
We would like to congratulate Yosemite West for their ten-year commitment to fire safety!
Woody Biomass Utilization Grant
USDA Forest Service Woody Biomass Utilization Grant in the amount of $134,225. This is great success for all like-communities throughout the Sierras as the results of this project aims to create a model for economically sustainable biomass utilization that reduces costs of forest restorations projects and provides community jobs. The “North Fork Community-Scale Biomass Demonstration Project” was one of twenty renewable wood energy projects funded nationwide.
These grant dollars will allow for the completion of major pre-development tasks allowing for the financing and construction of community-scale (1MW) combined heat and power facility on the North Fork Mill Site. TSS Consultants, under a USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant, has recently completed a feasibility evaluation that examined local biomass supply, land characteristics, and markets.
The study concluded that a small biopower facility providing renewable energy generation, value added utilization of forest biomass in support of hazardous fuels reeducation activities, and long-term family wage jobs would be the most appropriate activity at the site. You will find this feasibility study attached along with the USDA New Release and snapshot of their website.
The Yosemite/Sequoia RC&D actively promotes utilization of both agricultural and forest biomass materials to produce value added products and energy to support our communities. Examples include:
Hosting the Biomass for Energy and a Better Environment Conference.
Seeking economically feasible uses for biomass materials through our MC2 Feasibility Study . In this study we are identifying what materials may be available through fire hazard reduction projects, identifying potential markets for the materials, and determining the feasibility of collecting and utilizing the materials.
Working with agencies, and other partners to assess the economic and social values of biomass utilization including: improved air quality and reduced health care costs associated with poor air quality, reduced saturation of landfills,improved watershed health and increased water quality and quantity, reduced risks to our communities and lower fire suppression costs, improved fish and wildlife habitat, improved forest health, and others.
Educating local citizens and representatives about biomass utilization issues.
We are striving to increase awareness of biomass related issues amongst resource management agencies, legislators, special interest groups and local citizens. We hope to increase business opportunities that provide economic stability for our struggling communities, as well as support environmental health.
Community Housing Improvement Program - CHIP
CHIP is a free service for disabled, those on assistance, seniors and Tribal members, this program chips hazardous fuels on properties that have already brushed and piled their debris. In 2010 CHIP conquered more than 200 acres with the assistance of local non-profit Mono Nation. The program is once again underway with a will be expanding to all the foothill communities within Fresno, Madera, Mariposa and Tulare counties. In order to effectively reach all four counties, the Council has partnered with four Fire Safe Councils that will help take on the load. Furthermore, local non-profit The Foundation for Resource Conservation has taken the lead on all day-to-day chipping activities. This round CHIP has created six jobs and chipped over 100 acres.
This project was launched in the Winter of 2003 in Mariposa County. The intention was to create a network of farmers, ranchers, artisans, and bed & breakfast owners throughout the county. In the Spring of 2003, the Council received a grant from the US Forest Service, in conjunction with the Central Sacramento RC&D Council to further its efforts.
We are currently working to extend this project throughout the four counties we serve to create a network of opportunities for tourists by and will be developing a mini-workshop series for interested business as well as assist with small business planning
Eastern Madera Wildfire Reforestation Project
The Eastern Madera Wildfire Reforestation Project is focused on reforesting 350 acres of Sierra National Forest burned in the 2014 French Fire. The project site is located near Mile High Vista along the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway. This particular area was chosen because of the high severity of wildfire.
The project is being managed by the Yosemite Sequoia Resource Conservation and Development Council (Y/S RC&DC) in coordination with the Bass Lake Ranger District.
Reforestation will improve watershed conditions by restoring severely burned areas to forested conditions, reducing sedimentation and turbidity, and improving water quality for downstream users. It will also improve habitat by providing stabilization that reduces erosion of stream banks and meadows. Additionally, reforestation of landscapes will provide canopy cover beneficial for wildlife. This reduction in sedimentation would also would benefit public utility infrastructure, including Southern CA Edison and PG&E hydroelectric facilities, transmission infrastructure and systems.
Funding for this project has been provided by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, an agency of the State of California, under the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Proposition 1) grant cycle and in support of the Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program.
Additional funding has been provided by the Bass Lake Ranger District, the Arbor Day Foundation and Yosemite Sequoia Resource Conservation and Development Council.