NEVADA CITY, Calif. (Nov. 18, 2022) — The Tahoe National Forest is seeking public input on the North Yuba Landscape Resilience Project draft environmental impact statement (DEIS). The 275,000-acre North Yuba Landscape Resilience Project is a landscape-scale vegetation and fuels management proposal designed to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, create fire adapted communities, improve forest health and promote mature and old growth forest characteristics that are resilient to fire, drought, insects and disease. The project proposal was informed by collaboration with the North Yuba Forest Partnership, which includes a diverse group of partners working to promote ecologically-based forest management solutions within the North Yuba River watershed.
The North Yuba watershed includes many communities, biodiverse forest habitat, offers excellent opportunities for recreation, and is an important source of water to downstream users in the Sacramento region. The project area is in the ancestral and traditional homelands of the Nisenan Tribe and includes shared boundaries with the Mountain Maidu, Konkow and Washoe Tribes. North Yuba is within one of 10 high-risk landscapes receiving funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), and the proposed project represents a critical step towards addressing and implementing the Forest Service’s Wildfire Crisis Strategy in California.
The proposal was developed using the latest scientific and technological tools available, incorporates traditional knowledge shared by tribes with ancestral and traditional connections to the landscape, and builds on previous projects both in and outside the North Yuba watershed that have helped the Forest Service determine what types of treatments are most effective.
The proposed action is intended to:
· Protect communities, escape routes, and utility infrastructure in the event of a wildfire
· Protect critical water supplies for downstream users
· Improve forest health and enhance climate resilience
· Protect wildlife habitat, including for the California spotted owl, goshawk, and Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog
· Promote the retention and recruitment of mature and old growth forests into the future
“We are very pleased to announce the public release of the DEIS for the North Yuba Landscape Resilience Project, which is critical to protect communities from the risk of unwanted fire. This project is the largest “green” forest management project in the State of California and aims to promote mature and old growth forest resilience to fire, drought, insects, and disease,” said Tahoe National Forest Supervisor Eli Ilano. “The proposed action reflects years of collaboration with partners as well as public input received during the scoping process. The Forest is committed to continuing dialogue with all interested parties as this process moves forward.”
In addition to using BIL funds, implementation of this project would be financed through a unique Forest Resilience Bond. Access to investor capital will enable the Forest Service, National Forest Foundation, and partners to hire local contractors, accelerate restoration work, and use the biomass for bioenergy instead of pile burning.
Potential treatments would include mechanical thinning and prescribed fire. Implementation of this proposed project would occur in several phases over a period of 15 to 20 years. The first phase, including treatment of approximately 32,000 acres, would begin after the Record of Decision, projected to be finalized in summer of 2023. Prior to implementation of subsequent phases, the Tahoe National Forest would do additional site-specific planning, public engagement, and tribal consultation.
The DEIS analyzes the environmental consequences of the no action alternative, the proposed action and two action alternatives developed in response to comments raised during scoping. The comment period is an opportunity for the public to offer thoughts on alternative ways the Forest Service can accomplish the project purpose and need. Comments may be submitted during the 45-day comment period, which begins with the Notice of Availability publication date in the Federal Register on Nov. 18, 2022.
Public Open Houses
The Tahoe National Forest will be hosting two public, in-person, open houses to answer questions about this project and DEIS as well as provide guidance to the public for submitting written comments on the DEIS. Public open houses are scheduled at the following dates, locations and times:
Dec. 1, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Camptonville School Auditorium
16585 School St., Camptonville, Calif. 95922
Dec. 7, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Downieville Community Hall
327 Main St., Downieville, Calif. 95936
Information about the project, documents, maps, and how to comment, are available on the North Yuba Landscape Resilience Project website at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=59693. Comments must be postmarked or timestamped no later than midnight, Jan. 3, 2023.