Supes show support for Thompson Peak Initiative project

By a unanimous vote, the Lassen County Board of Supervisors approved a letter showing its support for the Lassen County Fire Safe Council’s Thompson Peak Initiative to Cal Fire for the Grants Management Unit, Fire Prevention Grants.

“The Thompson Peak Initiative covers approximately 20,000 acres of mixed private ownership and public lands (federal lands are managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management). The project is situated between the unincorporated communities of Milford and Janesville, Lassen County, California, and the 2019 54,608-acre Walker Fire. The project spans across the North Slope and top of the Diamond Mountains and lies entirely within the Wildland Urban Interface of the Milford and Janesville area,” read the approved letter, which was also sent to State Senator Brian Dahle and State Assembly member Megan Dahle.

In a recent statement, the Lassen County Fire Safe Council noted the importance of treatments in the areas.

“This year’s Walker Fire and the ensuing evacuations have shown how critical it is for comprehensive fuel and forest restoration treatments to be implemented in these communities,” said Lloyd Keefer, fire safe council chair. “Janesville and Milford have dodged the bullets of the past Walker, Moonlight and Eagle fires, but time is not on our side. It is not a matter of if a wildfire will flow down the Diamond Mountains escarpment, but when.”

The letter from the county board showed that they are in favor of the project’s completion.

“The Lassen County Board of Supervisors supports the Lassen County Fire Safe Council, Inc. application for Thompson Peak Wildland Urban Interface Fuel Treatments Project Grant Funds for LCFSC’s Thompson Peak Initiative. The Lassen County Community Wildfire Protection Plan Working Group gave the TPI project its highest priority for implementation. LCFSC is the lead in developing this public/private partnership to address watershed restoration and wildfire issues in the Thompson Peak area of the Diamond Mountains,” the letter continued.

The supervisors went on to note the conditions in the area, which could pose fire hazards.

“The vegetative condition of the project area is a dense overstocked forest condition with an abundance of understory and hazardous fuel conditions; too many trees and high basal area exceeding the long-term carrying capacity of the site.

“The purpose and benefits of the project are many, including: implement forest restoration treatments to reduce hazardous fuel loads; improve public safety; restore native forest; improve forest health by removing insect and disease affected trees; reduce stand density making forests more resistant to drought; improve forest adaptability to climate change; reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire and the associated adverse effects on air and water quality; reduce the probability of excessive greenhouse gas emissions associated with catastrophic wildfire; stabilize carbon storage by improving forest health; improve and enhance watershed services and functions; maintain, improve, and protect habitat on the landscape; improve local socioeconomic conditions by employing local contractors and sustaining local biomass generation facilities; and protect working forest and agricultural landscapes.”

Moreover, recently, Thompson Peak Initiative partners presented Cal Fire Lassen Modoc Unit Chief Scott Packwood with a petition featuring about 2,300 signatures from supportive residents.

The Thompson Peak Initiative was formed in June of this year in an effort to plan and acquire funds for fuel treatments in a project area that is deemed the highest priority in the Lassen County Community Wildfire Protection Plan. The initiative’s principal partners include the fire safe council, Cal Fire, Lassen County, Plumas National Forest, Eagle Lake BLM Field Office, the Janesville, Milford and Susan River Fire Protection Districts and the Honey Lake Valley RCD.

Throughout the last five months Thompson Peak Initiative has held monthly community meetings, attended by up to 70 residents, to plan for a comprehensive fuels treatment project that would protect the communities of Janesville and Milford from wildfire.