Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Public policy shifting on fire management?

The Sagehen Forest Project proposes restoring ecological function to the Sagehen Basin. It turns out that doing this tames wildfire and is good for wildlife, good for the timber industry, and good for water quality. Everyone wins.

Some recent developments suggest that forest management policy in California may be about to shift dramatically in that direction.

"The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) requests $180 million Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016-17, with position authority and associated funding in subsequent years through FY 2021-22...for a comprehensive forest health program that will further secure forest carbon and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to meet the 2030 carbon goals within Executive Crder (EC) B-30-15. Funds will support the expansion of the Urban and Community Forestry, Forest Legacy Programs , and target landscape-scale Forest Health projects in high-priority forested upper watersheds in coordination with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, to realize the largest direct benefit for GHG reduction, forest resilience and cobenefits, such as protection of water, wildlife habitat, and rural economic stability."
2. Saving The West (now Living Forests). A policy Discussion Document from the Center for the Study of the Force Majeure, 2016.

3. Proclamation of a State of Emergency: Tree Mortality, Governor of California. December 2015.

4. Improving the Federal Response to Western Drought, Public Policy Institute of California. February 2016.

From Amy Horne:

"Just released PPIC report urges 5 reforms needed for water in California including restoring forest health and reducing fuel loads in headwaters. Also calls for FS to shift focus from fire suppression to fire prevention. The specific recommendation is:"
Initiate multiple large-scale collaborative projects to restore forest health 
There has been considerable progress in improving the pace of restoration of forested lands nationwide (US Forest Service 2015). Yet many interviewees felt that to date, most efforts at fire prevention and forest health have been small-scale demonstration projects. To improve public perception and demonstrate benefits—including the potential for boosting drought resilience for downstream users—the Forest Service needs to incorporate a series of large-scale projects into all of the emerging forest management plans. These projects should explore incentives for financial investments from beneficiaries to cover a portion of the costs.32 In addition, partnerships should be formed to promote research and development of new wood energy and building industry products that can increase the value of harvests that reduce fuel loads.