Ever driven down a Forest Service road toward your favorite spot in the woods, and wondered what would happen if a fire came through and changed this landscape? If you live in the Northern Sierra, it doesn’t take much of an imagination. It seems almost any summer, you can stand outside our office in Taylorsville and see smoke from a fire. Last year, the Minerva Fire near Quincy. A few years earlier the Mt. Hough fires burned on the ridge above Taylorsville, the Chips Fire near Lake Almanor before that, and already this summer we’ve watched fire crews scramble to respond to small fires in Indian Valley.
Federal land managers are facing a growing task to balance restoration and fire on our public lands. Resilient forests burn less intensely, which means greater ecological benefits and fewer negative impacts to communities. Think less burnt moonscape, and more diverse understory beneath a green canopy of healthy, mature trees. Sierra Institute is committed to partnering with these agencies to accelerate forest management activities that restore forest resilience.
Back on that bumpy gravel road winding through the forest, after you considered what fire might mean for your favorite spot, you might have thought, “it sure would be nice if the Forest Service would do something to reduce fire risk here.” If you talk with your neighbors who work for the agency, I bet you’ll find they wish they could too. Did you know some National Forests have as few as one-third of the staff they once did? And, those staff are increasingly drawn away to respond to fires – preventing them from carrying out fuels reduction projects or prescribed burning.
By working in partnership with our local Forest Service staff, we can get more work done collectively and provide more opportunities for the local workforce to be involved. That means healthier forests and more jobs in our communities.
Through a Master Stewardship Agreement with the Forest Service, the Sierra Institute hired a crew of five to mark timber for the 1,400 acre Campbell project on the Lassen National Forest this summer. The Master Stewardship Agreement formalizes a partnership between the Sierra Institute and the Forest Service and is a platform we can build on to provide more local workforce opportunities while restoring resilient forests that provide sustainable timber supplies and recreational opportunities for generations to come. Work performed by the crew – with members from Greenville and Susanville – will enable the Forest Service to move forward with a project they otherwise wouldn’t have had the staff to complete. This is, in part, thanks to additional dollars the Sierra Institute is contributing to cover the full costs of the project.
So, next time you’re driving down that Forest Service road, know there is a vision and a plan for a healthy, resilient forest there in the future. Sierra Institute is excited about a future with more opportunities for local workers in the woods – and we hope you’ll be part of the solution with us.