Updated Kings Fire Restoration Plans Presented by Eldorado National Forest

Placerville CA – Based on concerns raised through public comment, the planning team for the King Fire Restoration Project on the Eldorado National Forest has developed several alternatives to the original proposed action. The public is invited to PREVIEW the maps of these alternatives and discuss them with the planning team on Wednesday, March 25, 2015, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the Best Western Plus Placerville Inn, located at 6850 Greenleaf Drive, Placerville, CA  95667.
“The alternatives respond to the feedback we received from the public in approximately 60 comment letters,” said Forest Supervisor Laurence Crabtree. “Basically, some people want us to salvage more trees, and others don’t want us to salvage any. In the end, the decision is going to have to be a balance.”
A summary of the alternatives and estimated acreage is as follows:

  • Alternative 1 – No Action – 0 acres
  • Alternative 2 – Proposed Action – 17,227 acres
  • Alternative 3 – 13,549 acres
  • Alternative 4 – 22,097 acres
  • Alternative 5 – 17,227 acres with reduced herbicide

The alternatives include treatments to create Wildland Urban Interface Defense Zones; Strategic Fire Management Zones; Conifer Forest Resiliency Areas; Strategically Placed Area Treatments (SPLATS); Strategic Roadside Buffer Zones; and a Rubicon Canyon Prescribed Fire Area.
An in depth environmental analysis of these alternatives is now in progress and will be released with the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) in late April.
Seven key issues were identified during the scoping phase of the project which shaped the development of the alternatives:
(1) Owl Habitat.The proposed salvage harvest in California spotted owl (CSO) territories would impact CSO foraging habitat and lead to loss of occupancy.
(2) Fuel Load.Leaving large portions of the fire untreated results in a dangerously high fuel load in the form of snags and later brush growth and a high risk of future wildfire impacting private land, communities, and forest resources.
(3) Carbon Dioxide Emissions.The proposed action fails to remove sufficient dead trees to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and plant sufficient new ones to increase carbon dioxide absorption, resulting in net carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere.
(4) Species Diversity. Tree planting and herbicides will adversely impact the composition of early successional shrub, forb, and grass species of the post-fire habitat, thereby impacting the many species which require complex early seral forest.
(5) Snag Retention.The proposed action will adversely affect black backed woodpeckers and secondary cavity nesters by removing important intensely burned habitat created by the fire.
(6) Water Resources.The proposed action has insufficient protection for water quality and aquatic habitat by proposing herbicides within Riparian Conservation Areas and permitting log skidding within 150′ of perennial and intermittent streams.
(7) Natural Recovery. There is no ecological or economic justification to salvage log areas that burned at mixed severity within the Natural Range of Variation (NRV).
The Alternatives PREVIEW EVENT is an opportunity for information and discussion. There will be another formal comment period when the DEIS is released, however comments are welcome at any time.
Alternatives PREVIEW EVENT Agenda:
6:00 – 6:30 – View maps and alternatives comparison table
6:30-6:45 – Introductory comments by Team Leader, Pat Ferrell
6:45 – 7:45 – Q & A Panel Discussion with Specialists from the planning team
7:45 – Closing comments by Forest Supervisor, Laurence Crabtree
8:00 — Adjourn
The final decision about how to proceed with restoration in the King Fire burned area will be made by the Forest Supervisor who will select one of the alternatives, or a modified alternative, based on the analysis of environmental effects and public comments on the DEIS.
For more information, contact the Eldorado National Forest Public Affairs Office at 530-621-5280.  A newsletter about the King Fire Restoration Project is also available online.

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