Fire Safe Council issues Thompson Peak Initiative update

Tom Esgate, managing director of the Lassen County Fire Safe Council, updated the public on the Thompson Peak Initiative in a recent email.

Esgate wrote: First and foremost, I want to let you know that Lassen Fire Safe Council, Inc. hired an outstanding Executive Officer Assistant, Katlyn Lonergan, to provide our organization with greater depth and improved delivery of our programs and services. She is now our lead for TPI landowner signups. Lonergan can be reached by email [email protected] or by phone at 251-5560. Also, we now have an office at 1825 Main St., directly adjacent to the Susanville Police Station on the east side.

As you all know, with COVID-19, we have suspended our public meetings, but our work has continued at breakneck speed. More than 324 properties have signed up for treatments. We are scheduling assessment appointments for those who have already signed up and reaching out to additional property owners who have not yet signed up.

Three weeks ago we began our first biomass utilization thinning treatments at the upper end of Janesville Grade where our Cal Fire Exemptions provide us with California Environmental Quality Act clearance which is necessary for us to spend our grant funds. We currently have a contiguous treatment block of approximately 400 acres. These treatments tie into, or are part of, the original Janesville Fuel Break making this a great investment in the protection of the Janesville community. In addition, we are also putting together a large block of parcels within the Milford community for more utilization thinning treatments.

For the balance of our planned work (mastication, hand thinning and emergent brush treatments), we need to complete our communities-wide CEQA clearance work before we can begin to conducting those treatments. We have now completed all our resource assessments, including archaeological surveys, and we are scheduled to present our request for a CEQA Categorical Exemption to the Honey Lake Valley Resource Conservation District later this month. Once approved there will be a 30-day posting period and then we’ll be clear to begin additional treatments. Please remember we have a very large project and it will take at least another two years before the first phase of our treatments are completed.

With such a large demand for our treatments, we are seeking to leverage our funds in order to provide even more work to make the Janesville and Milford communities more resilient to the effects of wildfire and pests. As many of you already know the Sierra Nevada Conservancy has granted us $60,000 in capacity funds that have been used for some of our CEQA clearance work.

Last week the Lassen County Resource Advisory Committee approved nearly $85,000 for National Environmental Quality Act clearances on Plumas National Forest lands. In addition we have used $5,422 in Lassen County Title III funds granted to Milford for CEQA and NEPA clearances. We have also made three applications for additional funds over the past two months as follows:

  • $300,000 for a Western States Foresters Western WUI Grant (treatments and education);
  • $300,000 for a Western States Foresters LSR Grant (treatments and education); and
  • $250,000 for a Sierra Nevada Conservancy grant for additional NEPA clearances on PNF lands.

PNF has been an outstanding partner and we are putting together two projects with them that can potentially treat more than 15,000 acres south of both Janesville and Milford.

The 4,000 acre+ Bootsole project is scheduled for NEPA clearance in January/February and we hope to get it underway later next year. It is located in the Cradle Valley area just to the southeast of Thompson Peak.

The 10,000+ Lone Spring project will be a three-year NEPA/CEQA clearance effort that will treat PNF and Susanville Indian Rancheria lands running on the south side of the escarpment from Milford Grade to Cradle Valley as well as some PNF lands at the base of the escarpment adjacent to the communities of Janesville and Milford. During the NEPA and CEQA clearance work we’ll be on the hunt for additional treatment funds for these PNF lands.

So as you can see, despite the challenges presented by COVID-19 and a decimating fire season, we are well underway and we expect to see more successes and funding in the coming year.

We’ll do our best to try and keep you all up to date more regularly in the future (now that we have Katlyn onboard).

Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have at lassenfiresafecouncil.org, [email protected] or by calling 310-0146.

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