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The Sierra Nevada Conservancy Governing Board (Board) approved more than $21 million in Wildfire Recovery and Forest Resilience grants at its quarterly board meeting June 2 and discussed staff recommendations for operational updates responding to legislation that expanded the Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s service area.

The 2021 Budget Act appropriated $50 million to the Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) to support wildfire-recovery and forest-resilience priorities and the Board approved guidelines at its December 2021 meeting making $23,750,000 available for the first grant cycle of the Wildfire Recovery and Forest Resilience Directed Grant Program. In total, the Board approved just over $21 million that will go to 18 different projects in the Sierra Nevada and California’s Cascade Mountain region. It also approved updated guidelines so the next phase of the Wildfire Recovery and Forest Resilience Grant Program can begin later this month.

“The Governor’s Wildfire and Forest Resilience Task Force recently came out with a list of recommendations to increase the pace and scale of forest-health projects to help remedy the growing threat of high-severity wildfires and we are pleased the Board approved these projects so that critical on-the-ground restoration work to complete those recommendations can begin,” said Angela Avery, executive officer at the SNC. “We are so proud of all our regional partners who ensure the necessary projects to advance state and local wildfire-recovery and forest-resilience goals are successfully achieved.”

SNC and California Natural Resources agency leadership joined the Sierra Institute for Community and Environment in Plumas County last month to celebrate the opening of a new SNC-funded sawmill in Crescent Mills focused on Dixie Fire recovery and forest resilience.

The primary priority of the Wildfire Recovery and Forest Resilience Directed Grant Program is the planning and implementation of forest-health projects that promote wildfire recovery and forest resilience. Projects must support the goals of California’s Wildfire and Forest Resilience Action Plan and the Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program (WIP), and the Board approved 18 at the June 2 meeting that match the required criteria.

Grants in Shasta, Trinity, Siskiyou, and Modoc counties

Approximately $4.3 million was approved for six projects in Shasta, Trinity, Siskiyou, and Modoc counties. One of those projects for $2,257,500 is the “Lower McCloud Fuels Management Project” in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest that will reduce fuels on 1,505 acres in Iron Canyon to protect late-successional forest, promote ecological resilience, and improve firefighter and public safety when it comes to future wildfires. Another approved project is the “Upper Trinity River Watershed Fire Resilience Planning and Prioritization Project” for $874,745 that will prioritize fuel-reduction treatments for nearly 480,000 acres in the entire upper Trinity River watershed.

Grants in Plumas, Butte, Sierra, and Nevada counties

The Board approved over $4.2 million for four different projects in Plumas, Butte, Sierra, and Nevada counties. One of those is the “Dixie Fire Restoration Project,” which will help restore a landscape devastated by the largest single-source wildfire in California state history. Located in Plumas County, next to the town of Chester and other nearby communities, this 9,206-acre project will look to plant mixed-conifer seedlings, help restore the headwaters of the Feather River watershed and critical wildlife habitat,and protect local communities from future wildfires. It will also provide much-needed jobs throughout the area.

Grants in Placer and El Dorado counties

Approximately $5.3 million was approved to go to four projects in the counties of Placer and Nevada. Exactly $2,662,137 was awarded to complete the “French Meadows Ecological Restoration Project.” This grant will complete the last phase of mechanical treatments on 1,038 acres of Tahoe National Forest to protect the headwaters of the American River from potential devastating wildfires. In all four phases of this project, 22,000 acres will be treated around French Meadows Reservoir. The “Nyack Fuels Reduction and Infrastructure Protection Project – Phase 1” was granted $2,046,543 to thin overly crowded forests and provide firefighting access to help protect infrastructure and communities in the American River Ranger District of the Tahoe National Forest.

Grants in Mono, Tuolumne, Calaveras, and Amador counties

The “Sweetwater Forest Resilience Project,” a planning project to prepare for landscape-scale forest-health treatments on 18,000 acres in Mono County northeast of the town of Bridgeport, was awarded in the amount of $836,655, while three projects in Tuolumne, Calaveras, and Amador counties received a total of $6,311,922. More than half that total, $3,572,738 in total, was awarded to the “SERAL Phase one” project that will take place in eastern Tuolumne County near the communities of Miwuk, Long Barn, and Strawberry. In this initial phase, 1,300 acres of fuel-management activities will take place, including ridgetop fuel-breaks, clearing of roadways, and creation of defensible space to help with future fire-suppression efforts and hopefully reduce the spread of future wildfires.

In other actions taken by the Board, a planning project was awarded $288,786 to complete environmental compliance to reduce fuels and conduct restoration work on 18,100 acres of forest in the Bass Lake Ranger District in the Sierra National Forest. This is the final grant issued under SNC’s Forest and Watershed Health Directed Grant Program funded from Proposition 68. Under the Vibrant Recreation and Tourism Grant Program, the Board awarded $150,000 to Mono County to conduct infrastructure improvements and waste-management upgrades to popular dispersed camping areas and $200,000 to the County of Nevada Planning Department to complete the County’s first Recreation and Resilience Master Plan.

More information

View a complete list of project titles, descriptions, and recipients of grants on SNC’s Board Meetings webpage. Information and guidelines for the next grant cycle of Wildfire Recovery and Forest Resilience in expected in early June and will be posted on SNC’s Grants webpage.