Sierra Nevada Conservancy moves swiftly to invest $19 million in regional wildfire resilience

Earlier today, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s Governing Board authorized 15 forest and wildfire resilience grants totaling just over $19 million under a new Immediate Action Wildfire and Forest Resilience grant program.

“The Sierra Nevada covers a quarter of California and our communities, along with headwater forests rich in biodiversity and carbon, are at increasing risk from damaging wildfires,” said Angela Avery, executive officer of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, a state agency based in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Auburn, California. “We could not be more pleased that our board authorized grants for $19 million in early action funding approved by the legislature, or for these 15 critical wildfire resilience projects to start this summer.”

The grants will fund Sierra Nevada fire safe councils, nonprofit organizations, resource conservation districts and water agencies to manage just over 11,600 acres of Sierra Nevada forestland for reduced fire risk to communities, infrastructure, and natural resources across the Sierra Nevada region. Funded projects include strategic forest health treatments, like the large 3,770-acre TPI Bootsole Forest and Watershed Restoration Project and the Concow Resilience Project, a climate smart reforestation and community protection project that is restoring fire resilient forest cover to lands near Paradise that burned in the 2018 Camp Fire.

The $3.5 million award to the Lassen Fire Safe Council for the TPI Bootsole Project in Lassen and Plumas counties is the SNC’s single largest investment in a forest health implementation project. The SNC also funded two more Plumas County projects and one Sierra County project in the area, bringing total SNC investment of early action funding in Lassen, Plumas, and Sierra county wildfire resilience to $6,202,146. The two additional Plumas County proposals include the Quincy Wildfire Protection Project from the Plumas Fire Safe Council and the Feather River Resource Conservation District’s Mohawk Valley Wildfire Resilience Project. In Sierra County, the SNC funded the Sierra Brooks- Smithneck Wildland Urban Interface Fuels Reduction Project that will simultaneously protect residents and improve wildlife habitat.

More information on all 15 grants the Board authorized today is available at: sierranevada.ca.gov/what-we-do/2021-early-action-projects/.

“The governor’s early action budget represents a strategic shift, investing funds directly into high-risk regions and putting communities in the driver seat to ensure projects not only reduce wildfire risk but also improve local economies and ecology,” said Deputy Secretary for Forest and Wildfire Resilience Jessica Morse. “The Sierra Nevada Conservancy is bringing a fast, thoughtful, and community-based approach to help remarkable mountain communities not just survive fires but thrive.”

SNC’s IAWR grants are some of the first state-funded projects resulting from that investment. SNC prepared to respond to the 2020 fire season by developing and adopting IAWR program guidelines in March. When the SNC was allocated $20 million for shovel-ready projects in California’s April 13 early action budget, strong regional relationships and expertise of area representatives located throughout the Sierra Nevada allowed the SNC to solicit and evaluate 32 applications requesting $38 million in funding.

“The projects authorized to receive early action funding show the benefits of the Shared Stewardship Agreement between California and the USDA Forest Service,” said Liz Berger, deputy regional forester for the Pacific Southwest Region and USDA Forest Service representative on the SNC Governing Board. “Eleven of the early action projects funded by SNC today will improve forest resiliency across the landscape and amplify our commitment of staff and funding for this important work.”