Sierra Nevada Forest and Community Initiative
Upcoming Council Meetings:
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Agenda and location TBA
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
The Ridge at Auburn
2020 Golf Course Road
Auburn, CA 95602
Historically, the Sierra Nevada Region has been challenged when addressing forest management, as myriad interests and perspectives come into play. Moving beyond traditional arguments by shifting focus to mutually agreeable principles will allow the region to emerge as a national leader in collaborative forest management.
The Sierra Nevada Forest and Community Initiative (SNFCI) is a coordinated effort among federal and state agencies, local governments, tribal entities, environmental/conservation organizations and the private sector, to improve the long-term environmental, economic and social well-being of the Sierra Nevada Region. The SNC is fostering collaboration locally and regionally in an effort to support a cohesive, economically viable, and sustainable approach to reducing fire risk, creating jobs, and protecting this priceless resource.
The Sierra Nevada Forest and Community Initiative (SNFCI) is a coordinated effort among federal and state agencies, local governments, tribal entities, environmental/conservation organizations and the private sector, to improve the long-term environmental, economic and social well-being of the Sierra Nevada Region. The Initiative is not intended to supplant or compete with other efforts, but is meant to identify and act upon:
- Opportunities for investment of public and private resources,
- Necessary policies to achieve desired outcomes and
- Processes and actions consistent with the following linked objectives:
- Creating ecologically healthy forests and watersheds, thereby protecting and enhancing habitat and water quality and quantity while reducing the risk of large damaging fires; and
- Creating sustainable local economic activity in the Region through increasing the sustainable production of renewable biomass energy, and a variety of wood products
Successfully achieving these objectives will result in a number of key outcomes for the region and state:
- Protecting water quality and increasing natural water storage in the Sierra, the origin of 65 percent of the state’s developed water supply;
- Protecting and enhancing key habitats for a variety of threatened and endangered species;
- Preserving and creating long-term, "good-paying" jobs in Sierra communities;
- Reducing air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions from large damaging fires; and
- Maximizing the sequestration of carbon in Sierra Forests.
The SNFCI will also promote, support and assist local efforts aimed at meeting the intent of the Initiative. Specific land management prescriptions, economic development opportunities and other activities are best determined through a collaborative process that develops outcomes consistent with the needs of the local forests and communities. The SNC will work to assist in local efforts designed to address these issues.
The successful implementation of this Initiative will attract additional investment to the Sierra Nevada region, resulting in protection of the state’s primary watershed and its many ecological benefits; creation of thousands of sustainable new jobs and more diversified local economies; and increased production of renewable energy in the state.
The SNC is committed to identify, support and implement actions that will:
- reduce the risk of large damaging fires in our forests and wildlands and in our communities;
- result in ecologically healthy forests and watersheds, protecting habitat and species, water supply and water and air quality, and the long-term sequestration of carbon;
- create ecologically and economically sustainable local jobs and economic activity resulting directly and indirectly from sustainable forest management activities, including but not limited to, biomass energy, biofuels, “value added” wood products, dimensional wood products and the activities necessary to produce these products;
- result in restoration of plant and wildlife habitat stemming from increased resiliency, diversity and species composition post treatment; and
- to identify, support and implement policies, investment and technical support that will assist in achieving these objectives.
The Sierra Nevada Region is critical to the well-being of California and its residents. The Region is the origin of approximately 65 percent of the state’s developed water supply, serving municipal, agricultural and industrial needs throughout the state. Nearly three-quarters of all the hydropower produced in California comes from the Sierra high elevation hydropower system, generating roughly 12 percent of all energy produced in the state. The Region also produces up to one-half of the state’s annual timber supply. The Sierra Nevada serves as one of the state’s leading areas to recreate and visit, with more than 50 million recreation visit days each year.
Nonetheless, the potential for even greater contributions exists. Sierra forests store large amounts of carbon, with these forests providing more carbon sequestration acre for acre than the Amazon rainforests. Through sustainable management, large damaging wildfires can be reduced and carbon sequestration can be increased and protected into the future. Without the appropriate management this carbon “plus” could literally go up in smoke, turning the benefit into a huge liability.
California policy currently calls for 33 percent of its energy to be produced from renewable sources by 2020, with 20 percent of all renewable energy to be generated from biomass resources by 2010. Energy produced from biomass currently provides only 3 percent of the overall in-state energy produced. Estimates indicate that the greatest abundance of potential biomass feedstock in California, up to 41percent, could come from forestry biomass. Clearly the opportunity for a significant contribution of renewable biomass energy - and the creation of jobs for local citizens - exists in the Region, consistent with sustainable forest management.
At the same time, maintaining existing facilities that process traditional dimensional wood products is likewise critical to the long-term sustainability of the Region. Opportunities also exist for production of a variety of wood products from the biomass removed from the forests, including wood pellets (used for heating), post and poles and other specialty wood products. Developing appropriately scaled infrastructure to process the materials removed to restore forest health is essential for the Region to achieve a sustainable economy in forest communities.
As the climate changes, it will become essential that we act to ensure that Sierra watersheds continue to serve as the state’s primary source of clean water. The opportunity exists for restoration and management efforts that will assist water managers in meeting ongoing needs. This includes increasing “natural storage” (through meadow restoration as an example), implementing land management that results in maintaining snowpack into the spring and protecting important natural areas from conversion to other uses.
In order to protect existing resources, address potential threats and take advantage of the additional contributions the Sierra makes to the State’s energy production and emission reduction goals, a coordinated initiative is needed to focus attention on this region, increase investment, guide policy and measure success. The SNFCI provides the opportunity for a successful effort.
By addressing the objectives described above in a coordinated and integrated approach, long-term environmental, economic and social well-being can be improved in the Sierra. Clearly this effort will require the support of federal and state agencies, local governments, and tribal entities, representatives from the environmental /conservation community, representatives of Fire Safe and watershed organizations and the private sector. Finding areas of agreement on which to focus actions will provide a foundation for ongoing efforts.
The Initiative will have two interrelated aspects:
- Region-wide focus that addresses policy issues, investment needs and relevant science and research; and
- Local collaborative efforts that address actions needed to achieve the desired outcomes at a more local level.
The Initiative focuses on public lands; however it is clearly understood that activities on private lands will have an effect on the effort and must be considered. Given that the federal government is responsible for the management of approximately two-thirds of the Sierra Nevada landscape, substantial federal involvement and investment is needed and appropriate. At the same time, coordination among the various State of California agencies and tribal entities with an interest in the Sierra is essential. Local governments can contribute through local leadership and advocacy, supportive policies and land use planning efforts that are consistent with the Initiative objectives. Many non-governmental organizations and private landowners are currently contributing positively to these objectives and are well-positioned to provide greater assistance.
A number of activities are occurring in the Sierra Nevada Region that are consistent with the intent of this Initiative. The SNC hopes to support and strengthen those efforts including:
- Fire Safe and related efforts designed to protect communities, watersheds and forests;
- watershed restoration efforts aimed at improving riparian conditions, restoring habitat and increasing natural storage of water; and
- ecological restoration of forests.
In order to successfully implement this initiative, the SNC will provide leadership, coordination, monitoring and reporting on its success. A SNFCI resolution has been developed for the purpose of allowing governmental entities, businesses and organizations that share these strategic objectives to participate. A SNFCI Coordinating Council will be created consisting of federal and state agencies, local governments, tribal entities, representatives from the environmental/conservation community and the private sector. The first charge of the Council will be the creation of an implementation plan for the purpose of guiding and monitoring progress over time. The Plan will establish measurable outcomes for the Initiative and identify a process for monitoring success. By identifying needs and opportunities, the Plan will assist in strategic investment in the Region
Please click here to endorse the Sierra Nevada Forest and Community Initiative.