U.S. Forest Service Updates 4 County Supervisors on Status of Operations

In a joint meeting with 20 Supervisors from Lassen, Plumas, Sierra, and Modoc County the US Forest Service detailed their status of operations in Northern California and the Pacific Southwest Region. Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlein along with the Forest Supervisors on the Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, and Tahoe National Forest went into length detailing several topics including, that the forest service is in full fire suppression efforts this season, how communications are being integrated between all federal and state partners and law enforcement to increase the ability to catch and prevent issues early and establish key points of contact for any incident, as well as the addressing 3 phases of reforestation and recovery plans for past years fires, and addressing the shortage of staffing.

Eberlein also said for the first time ever the Chief Officer of the forest service has granted emergency authority to remove trees before they become falling hazards ahead of the National Environmental Policy Act process to increase the pace of recovery. NEPA is notorious for taking years, delaying the much-needed clearing of hazardous trees from burned areas.

Another challenge facing reforestation efforts is the lack of seed nurseries. The forest floor has a plethora of cones for harvesting the seeds but lacks staff and space to grow. The forest service is working with SPI on cone collection and they will be expanding the Placer County nursery with 1 million in funds from the Arbor Foundation. Some numbers shared for this wildfire season shared by the regional forester Eberlein on staffing were that there had been an increase in firefighters this year to total over 3800, with 45 hotshot crews, 10 incident management teams, 238 engines, 33 smoke jumpers, and 13 type 2 Inter-Agency handcrews. Each forest service supervisor is utilizing local volunteer fire departments to leverage gaps in coverage of staffing as Lassen and Plumas NF is operating with nearly 70% of their staffing levels, while the Modoc has a 51% vacancy.

The meeting closed with questions from the Supervisors to which Plumas Supervisors questioned the forest service as to why there is no CalFire presence in the county. The regional forester answered that it is part of the CA fire management agreement and will be addressed next year during coverage areas negotiations.

SPI and golden state Natural Resources, who will be constructing a biomass plant in New Bieber, made final comments to end the meeting sharing their efforts around working with the forest service in forest recovery and reforestation efforts.