In 2012, we applied for and received a $300,000 grant from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy for the Harvego Bear River Preserve Improved Forest Management Implementation Project. In December 2015 we successfully completed the on-the-ground three-year long project, and recently finalized the grant paperwork.
The grant was a part of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s Proposition 84 funding program for safe drinking water, water quality and supply, flood control, river and coastal protection bond act of 2006. The grant funded 90 acres of fuel load reduction and vegetation thinning on the 1,778-acre Harvego Bear River Preserve to work towards creating a large shaded fuel break.
A shaded fuel break is defined as “a forest management strategy used for mitigating the threat of wildfire in areas where natural fire regimes have been suppressed, leading to a dangerous buildup of combustible vegetation.”
The goals of the project were to protect water quality in the Bear River watershed through prevention of catastrophic wildfire and associated sediment flow; improve the access for wildlife mobility, increase the forage and grazing habitat, and to protect cultural and historical resources on the Preserve.
The 90 acres that were treated as part of this project were identified as the highest risk areas on the Preserve and completed Phase I of a planned 300-acre shaded fuel break aimed at protecting the Preserve, the neighbors, and the Bear River watershed.
We contracted with Bella Wildfire and Forestry Services to plan and create the 90-acre shaded fuel break on the Preserve. Together identified the 90-acre area most at risk, and then crews cut and piled competing and dead understory vegetation that acted as hazardous ladder fuels. Ladder fuel is a firefighting term for “live or dead vegetation that allows a fire to climb up from the landscape or forest floor into the tree canopy. Common fuel ladders include tall grasses, shrubs, and tree branches, both living and dead.”
After the initial 90 acres was completed, the California Conservation Corps (CCC) came in to assist Bella Wildfire and Forestry Services to burn the brush piles and maintain re-growth throughout the shaded fuel break area through cutting and prescribed burning.
We are continuing the work with the CCC to expand the shaded fuel break and further reducing wildfire risk on the Preserve. We have added an additional 40 acres of fuel load reduction to the existing 90 acres bringing the total acreage of fuel load reduction on the Preserve to 130 acres.
As a major landowner in Placer County, we continue to pursue opportunities to create and expand shaded fuel breaks on this Preserve, as well as other PLT owned properties, to reduce potential fire hazard and improve forest and watershed health. We do our best to be good stewards of the land we own and manage.