Completed Janesville Fuel Break work with extra space between trees. Photos submitted

Lassen Fire Safe Council completes work on 1,200 acre/4-mile Janesville fuel break

Last year Lassen Fire Safe Council was awarded a $3.3 million California Climate Investments/Cal Fire grant for its Thompson Peak Initiative project that spans from Janesville to Milford. After LFSC completed its environmental clearances in the late fall, work immediately proceeded with the construction of the Janesville Fuel Break portion of the project. The community’s experience with the Sheep Fire in 2020 was all that LFSC needed to make this its top priority for TPI.

Throughout the summer and fall of 2020, cooperating landowners adjacent to the Plumas National Forest were signed up where high fuel loads on steep slopes pose the greatest threat to the Janesville community.

Here’s a map of the Janesville Fuel Break.

In November, Peterson Timber of Redding, California began the work of heavy thinning to establish the fuel break spanning from Elysian Valley on the west, to 1 mile east of the Janesville Grade. It runs from a quarter to 1.5 miles in width based on topography and the participation of private landowners. Peterson completed its work in June, right when LFSC cuts off mechanical cutting operations due to fire risk.

Right on their heels Gutierrez Forest Management began follow-up hand crew treatments in the form of limbing and piling to really make the work shine. Earlier this week, Dixie Fire resources enhanced LFSC’s work. Tubit Enterprises and Gutierrez have stepped up to the plate to clean things up and make the project shine again. Their follow-up work will be completed today.

“The fuel break is now ready to be tested but we hope it isn’t,” said Tom Esgate LFSC Managing Director. “Dixie Fire resources scarified what would be the green side of the fuel break in the event that firing operations are needed if the fire comes over the escarpment and threatens Janesville”.

The specifications for the fuel break work are simple. LFSC’s work trends the forest condition back toward its healthier pre-European settlement condition where eastside pine trees were spaced at 30- to 50-foot intervals. As the project moves forward LFSC will prioritize community treatments in areas where cooperating landowners are willing to adopt this prescription.

“If we can get a preponderance of the community to adopt this prescription, we’ll have a much healthier forest and potentially reduce insurance costs and cancelations,” said Katlyn Lonergan, LFSC Programs Director.

Looking forward to when cutting operation can commence again in the fall, LFSC plans to focus on the Milford fuel break and then Janesville and Milford community treatments.                   The TPI grant term runs through 2024 and a lot of work remains to be accomplished.

California Climate Investments is a statewide initiative that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment — particularly in disadvantaged communities.

The California Climate Investments cap-and-trade program creates a financial incentive for industries to invest in clean technologies and develop innovative ways to reduce pollution.