Nevada City, CA— Last week, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB), voted to grant $2,396,000 to Sierra Streams Institute (SSI) and the County of Nevada Office of Emergency Services (OES) to implement the Sierra Foothills Forest Resilience Project. SSI received funding from the WCB in 2021 to develop a Climate-Smart Forest Management Toolkit and to conduct planning, including environmental and cultural review, with the goal of treating 625 acres in direct collaboration with landowners across property boundaries. Now that implementation funding has been awarded, the Sierra Foothills Forest Resilience Project may commence in Nevada City, California to improve forest health and wildlife habitat.
“We are thrilled to see this project come to fruition. This novel project included landowners directly in the planning process, treating multiple properties within our community as one connected forest. Further, Nevada County students directly contributed to the planning process through the Our Forests education program. We believe taking this community-driven approach can set a new standard for how we can all steward healthy forests together. These tools we have developed allow us to work together across property boundaries to restore forest health. We believe this approach sets us on the right path. Fires are a natural part of our ecosystem that operate at the landscape scale. We always like to say we don’t treat to prevent fire, we treat to invite low-severity fire,” said Jeff Lauder, Ph.D., Executive Director of SSI.
The project stitches together over 300 private parcels within the Jones Bar Firewise Community, in addition to three outdoor schools and Bureau of Land Management property. Each of the schools is positioned within a priority location in Nevada County. Shady Creek Outdoor School is located within the footprint of the proposed South Yuba Rim Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project. Nevada City School of the Arts is located within the footprint of the Lobo Fire and the Deer Creek watershed. Lastly, the Woolman School is located within the Jones Fire footprint and the South Yuba River watershed.
The Sierra Foothills Forest Resilience Project will promote a diversity of different types of vegetation with an eye toward what will be most successful given warming temperatures and the prospect of drought. In addition to encouraging a diversity of flora, the project is designed to create a variety of vegetation arrangements, such as “clumps” and “gaps” or vegetation islands within the forest to reduce wildfire severity and to enhance wildlife habitat. The goal is to develop more forestland habitat with the ability to withstand and recover from disturbances such as pests, like bark beetles, fire, and drought. Targeted treatments have been developed specifically to address the needs of each property. Various prescriptions will include shaded fuel breaks, native plant retention, invasive species removal, as well as the removal of dead and dying trees all by way of hand thinning, mastication, and controlled fire.
“As the County, we are in a unique position to serve as the fiscal agent for this project and to build collaborative capacity in our community for this important work to get done. We are excited to partner with Sierra Streams Institute and support our Firewise Communities and educational institutions on a path to resilience. We can’t wait to get started,” said Craig Griesbach, OES Director. OES anticipates bringing this grant to the Board of Supervisors for fund acceptance in late September.
SSI will meet with all 85 private landowners within the project footprint before implementation to discuss treatment descriptions and how they align with best forest ecology practices. Additionally, SSI will develop research plots with the Nevada County School of the Arts to offer educational opportunities to students around native and non-native species management experiments, as well as land stewardship principles. The community at large will be invited to participate in upcoming virtual and in-person events, hosted by OES, to share more about the project and provide progress updates. Those interested in learning more about the Sierra Foothills Forest Resilience Project may contact Erin Andrew, Sierra Streams Institute’s Forest Ecologist and Project Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-470-6037.
About Sierra Streams Institute
Sierra Streams Institute (SSI) is a regional watershed science organization based in Nevada City, California, dedicated to increasing watershed stewardship capacity throughout the Sierra Nevada region and beyond. They work with local, state, and federal agencies as well as universities and community groups to find solutions to the problems that afflict Deer Creek, Bear River and other watersheds throughout the region that share the challenges resulting from a century and a half of gold mining, development, and agriculture. SSI’s emphasis on rigorous science and consistent data collection provides the basis for restoration decisions that are made on behalf of watersheds, and makes them an especially valuable partner of local, state and federal government agencies who lack the funding and capacity to gather their own data.
About the Nevada County Office of Emergency Services
The Office of Emergency Services (OES) is responsible for coordinating with County departments, local cities, and special districts to prevent, protect, mitigate, respond to, and recover from disasters. OES is responsible for designing and conducting simulated disaster preparedness and response exercises and evaluating emergency staff training. OES is also responsible for maintaining the County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in a state of readiness. In recognition of the County’s vulnerability to wildfire, OES has forged new, and strengthened existing, relationships to ensure the pace and scale of wildfire prevention work accelerates. Through strategic partnerships with nonprofits, such as Sierra Streams Institute, Yuba Watershed Institute, and Fire Safe Council of Nevada County, OES is supporting important large-scale hazardous fuel reduction projects. OES, alongside nonprofit partners, secures funding from grant making agencies such as CAL FIRE, CalOES, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Board, USDA, and FEMA to achieve this work.