Local foundation launches 2nd phase of $30M Forest Futures Campaign

Phase one, announced in April, awarded $1 million in grants to forest management projects.

TRUCKEE, Calif. — The Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation recently approved grants totaling $855,000 for phase two of its three-year, $30 million Forest Futures Campaign, bringing the total grants deployed this year to about $2 million. 

Forest Futures is a comprehensive playbook that can be replicated by other communities to align local organizations around minimizing the risk of extreme wildfires through better preparation, investment in forest health and infrastructure, and diversifying local economies. 

Second phase grants focus on community protection, infrastructure, and accelerating the development of market solutions. Phase one, announced in April, awarded $1 million in grants to forest management projects. To date, $5.4 million has been raised to fund Forest Futures.

The Forest Futures campaign works to tackle a broad range of complex, interrelated issues around wildfires. The Sierra Nevada region has become a tinderbox due to drought, a bark beetle infestation that killed more than 16 million trees, and forest overcrowding that drains vital water out of the ecosystem and covers the forest floor with flammable fuel. Simultaneously, the rural economies in the region have lost the economic engines that ensure basic infrastructure to manage forests, including saw and paper mills, and woody biomass processing facilities. Cal Fire has classified the entire Tahoe Truckee region as very high or high fire hazard severity zones.

Phase two of the Forest Futures campaign addresses some of the area’s economic inequities by providing direct grants to local fire districts to support defensible space and fuel reduction efforts, fill gaps in funding, and pay for community wildfire resilience coordination. It encourages workforce development by providing field equipment and scholarships for students in Community College Forestry and Fire Programs; builds infrastructure by funding green waste wood fuel processing programs; and accelerates market solutions through a business strategy prize to help entrepreneurs scale up small businesses.

These awards supplement Forests Future’s phase one grants, which awarded $1 million to nine local institutions with 11 forest management projects. Currently underway, these projects include planning hazardous tree removal for critical evacuation routes; working with local community organizations in recovery efforts; increasing community engagement, education, and public awareness; and introducing urban and rural youth to forestry management.

“The effective deployment of resources makes it possible for communities to tackle complex, inter-related issues that affect part-time and full-time residents, the forest, infrastructure, sustainability, and economics,” says TTCF CEO Stacy Caldwell. “Each new phase of Forest Futures prioritizes relationships with organizations in the community. We’re applying lessons learned from community partnerships and grantmaking during COVID to create a sense of urgency and use trust-based philanthropy to quickly deploy dollars where they are most needed.”

As an example, Caldwell cites a recent $1 million gift to TTCF from Richard and Theresa Crocker, the donor advisors of the Crocker Philanthropic fund and part-time homeowners in Tahoe Truckee for more than two decades. By following its impact investment agenda, TTCF could immediately allocate the gift to support critical initiatives, including Forest Futures; mental health, social services, and disaster preparedness for low-income families; scholarships; housing projects, and community programming and education.

“Wildfires don’t discriminate between rich and poor, private or public properties, or state or federal borders,” Caldwell adds. “We are all in this together.”

Forest Futures’ phase two funding works to level the playing field by addressing economic inequities faced by area residents. Direct grants to local fire districts and the hiring of a coordinator who can serve as a point person will support Firewise community efforts, grant applications and coordination with local fire districts. 

A workforce development grant adds to the Phase 1 cohort of workforce development grantees and will supplement efforts to solve persistent labor shortages by training people with the skills necessary to fight fires and plan and implement forest health projects, increasing the number of professionals available to get necessary work done.

Phase two grants also address the issue of what to do with green waste by funding disposal and processing efforts, and by offering a business strategy prize to help entrepreneurs tackling these problems scale up their businesses. 

Specifically, grants will fund green waste and biomass integration in Placer County; fund a biomass facility engineering feasibility study; support fuel reduction projects in Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows; support Fire Adapted Communities Program education and outreach; and provide green waste pickup program support to Eastern Nevada and Placer Counties.

Forest Futures is the culmination of more than four years of work with 97 multi-disciplinary experts to form a strategy and action plan that addresses a variety of interrelated forestry issues.

Source: Truckee-Tahoe Community Foundation

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