Collaboration seeks to reduce wildfire risk in Middle Truckee River Watershed
TRUCKEE, Calif. – The United States Forest Service signed a memorandum of understanding with four entities, forming a public-private partnership to document their commitment to increase the pace and scale of forest management in the Middle Truckee River Watershed.
Located in California’s northern Sierra Nevada, the Middle Truckee River Watershed includes approximately 315,000 acres of land, of which 260,825 acres is managed by the Tahoe National Forest. The watershed spans three California counties, one Nevada county, and encompasses important forest and meadow ecosystems, the Truckee River, recreational resources, communities and water supply reservoirs.
The Middle Truckee River Watershed Forest Partnership includes the National Forest Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Truckee Meadows Water Authority, Truckee River Watershed Council and the United States Forest Service – Tahoe National Forest.
“The history of fire suppression in the region has resulted in increased forest density and less fire frequency. These conditions lead to greater risk of high-severity wildfires and threaten recreation and communities surrounded by the Tahoe National Forest,” said Jonathan Cook-Fisher, District Ranger for the Tahoe National Forest, Truckee Ranger District.
Rachel Hutchinson District Ranger for the Tahoe National Forest, Sierraville District noted, “This memorandum of understanding provides for more collaboration with stakeholders, and we look forward to increasing levels of coordination within this partnership.”
“We have been working on ecologically-based modeling efforts to identify priority areas for forest restoration,” stated Lisa Wallace, Truckee River Watershed Council executive director. “Increasing the pace and scale of forest management work is critically important for protecting our community from wildfires and improving ecosystem health.”
The goals of the group are to develop a 10-year vegetation management plan; improve and restore forest health and resilience; reduce the risk of high severity wildfire; protect communities from wildfire impacts; protect and secure water supplies and infrastructure; and identify and augment resources gaps to achieve implementation at an increased pace and scale.
“Northern Nevada relies on the forested headwaters of the Truckee River for a high-quality water supply,” said John Enloe, director of natural resources at Truckee Meadows Water Authority. “It’s essential that we collaborate with our upstream partners to protect our watershed, increase the region’s resilience to wildfires and mitigate potential water quality impacts that can result from wildfires.”
Collaborative forest management work is already underway throughout the watershed, including the Ladybug Project, a 2,500-acre project near Stampede Reservoir, and 7,000 acres of corridor work along California State Route 89 near Alpine Meadows Resort.
Matt Millar, National Forest Foundation Sierra Nevada Program senior manager said, “This is an example of the public-private partnerships that are advancing fuels reduction projects throughout the west and helping the National Forest Foundation implement our mission to bring people together to restore and enhance our National Forests.”
Projects to improve forest resilience include thinning smaller trees, prescribed burning, meadow restoration, clearing underbrush, and more. Although the group is completing a 10-year vegetation management plan, it is expected that additional work will be needed beyond the decade-long period.
“The Nature Conservancy has been working to advance healthy forest management in the Middle Truckee River for years,” said Mickey Hazelwood, conservation director for The Nature Conservancy in Nevada. “Our science demonstrates there is a high likelihood of intense wildfire in the area absent the important work this public private partnership intends to tackle.”
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