Forest Service Identifies California Landscapes at High Wildfire Risk to Receive $80.7M in Funding – Stanislaus and Tahoe National Forests selected as first California high-risk landscapes
Vallejo, Calif. — April 2022. As part of the Forest Service’s strategy for Confronting the Wildfire Crisis, two landscapes within the Stanislaus and Tahoe national forests will receive targeted investments to increase forest resiliency and health through a broad range of treatments. These two forests will collectively receive $28.6 million in 2022 and an additional $52.1 million over the next three years, for a total of $80.7 million. This funding is being appropriated through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The North Yuba Landscape Resilience area on the Tahoe National Forest and the SERAL (Social and Ecological Resilience Across the Landscape) area on the Stanislaus National Forest are two of 10 landscapes selected nationally to receive this funding. Overall, the 10 landscapes will receive $131 million this year to begin implementing our 10-year strategy for protecting communities and improving resilience in America’s forests.
“These Sierra Nevada landscapes were targeted for funding to support collaborative, large-scale projects that cross boundaries and are ready for implementation,” said Jennifer Eberlien, Regional Forester for the Pacific Southwest Region. “The work is designed to leverage partner investments, maximize our use of all-lands management authorities, and benefit underserved communities. We are encouraged by this financial investment and support to treat these firesheds to protect nearby communities.”
The Forest Service has found that around 80 percent of the wildfire risk to communities is concentrated in less than 10 percent of “firesheds,” or areas of about 250,000 acres where wildfires are likely to threaten communities and resources.
“Many high-risk firesheds remain to be treated beyond these initial landscape selections,” said Eberlien. “We will work jointly with state, local, and tribal governments; our sister federal agencies; and all partners in the California Wildfire and Forest Resilience Task Force to identify landscapes for additional investment in the years ahead.”
“These efforts to reduce wildfire risk to communities located in these landscapes are just the beginning,” said Forest Service Chief Randy Moore. “With each successive year we will plan and implement more, continuing to reduce the risks associated with extreme wildfire for communities in these vulnerable areas.”
Tahoe National Forest: The 313,000-acre North Yuba Landscape is one of the largest contiguous “unburned” landscapes remaining in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The North Yuba watershed is also an important water source for residential and agricultural areas surrounding Sacramento. It feeds a reservoir retained by the tallest dam in California, which also provides power to the Sacramento area. Through ecologically based thinning and prescribed fire, the North Yuba Forest Partnership seeks to protect North Yuba communities from the threat of catastrophic wildfire and restore the watershed to a healthier, more resilient state. This landscape is also host to the first two Forest Resilience Bonds, which leverage substantial private sector investment to help fund implementation of this work.
Stanislaus National Forest SERAL: Within the Stanislaus Landscape a full suite of needed treatments to restore forest resilience at a landscape scale. Named SERAL for Social and Ecological Resilience Across the Landscape, these treatments include mastication, biomass removal, machine piling for burning, hand piling for burning, hand thinning, timber harvest, hazard tree removal, prescribed fire, and fuel break construction and maintenance. Combined, these efforts will reduce hazardous fuels and create a landscape that can better withstand disturbances such as wildfire, insects, disease, and drought conditions, while also protecting local communities, providing for critical species habitat, and supporting forest use and recreational opportunities.
In addition to state and federal agencies, these two landscape-scale restoration efforts are supported by partnerships with Yosemite Stanislaus Solutions, Tuolumne County, the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk, the North Yuba Forest Partnership – which includes Sierra County and the Nisenan of the Nevada City Rancheria – and several others.
The agency’s 10-Year Strategy, “Confronting the Wildfire Crisis: A Strategy for Protecting Communities and Improving Resilience in America’s Forests” calls for the Forest Service to treat up to an additional 20 million acres on national forests and grasslands and support treatment of up to an additional 30 million acres of other federal, state, tribal, private and family lands.
The Forest Service remains committed to sustaining the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s forests. Visit the Forest Service website to read the full strategy document. If you would like to partner with the Forest Service, visit the National Partnership Office website at www.fs.usda.gov/working-with-us/partnerships. To find out more about the initial landscape investments, visit www.fs.usda.gov/sites/default/files/WCS-Initial-Landscape-Investments.pdf