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September 10, 2013
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Forest service plans fuels reduction project


The Tahoe National Forest has been the recent subject of public scrutiny, as members of the public have aired fears about the possibility of a wildland fire starting on federally managed lands.

Officials with the U.S. Forest Service have maintained they perform as much forest fuels reduction projects as fiscally feasible, while asserting that much of the hazardous vegetation capable of fueling a catastrophic wildland fire in western Nevada County subsists on private land.

As California continues to reel from a devastating wildland fire season, the forest service announced a 900-acre hazardous fuels reduction project within the wildland-urban interface east and north of the communities of Grass Valley, Nevada City and Cascade Shores, according to a Tuesday news release issued by Gwen Ernst-Ulrich, spokeswoman for TNF.

The Western Nevada County Community Defense Project — Madrone Springs will involve hand and mechanical treatments designed to decrease trees and brush to reduce catastrophic wildfire risk and promote forest health, while creating safer public evacuation and wildfire suppression routes, the release stated.

“This project has so many positive attributes,” said Yuba River Acting District Ranger Jonathan Cook-Fisher. “Not only will the work make the area safer for local residents, but the resulting healthier forest will improve wildlife habitat and help the trees better resist disease, insects and wildfire.”

The project area lies in and around the 5Mile House/Madrone Springs area in western Nevada County.

When compared to historic conditions, the current densely arranged smaller trees and thick undergrowth in the project area would likely cause a stand-killing wildfire to spread quickly, the release states.

Removing ladder fuels, or the shrubs and smaller trees that help fire climb into larger trees, will better protect nearby private property.

“The project demonstrates the Tahoe National Forest’s ongoing efforts to join the Nevada County Board of Supervisors, the Nevada County Fire Safe Council, Cal Fire and private landowners in prioritizing and implementing strategic hazardous fuels reduction efforts,” Cook-Fisher said.

The decision that was expedited in under seven months supports the Tahoe National Forest’s ongoing efforts to address community concerns on this topic, as reflected in the Nevada County Board of Supervisors’ July 2013 resolution affirming the urgency and requesting specific actions for reducing hazardous fuels on public lands in Nevada County.

Work is slated for the next few months and officials expect the project to create jobs in the forest industry.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email mrenda@theunion.com or 530-477-4239.

“Not only will the work make the area safer for local residents, but the resulting healthier forest will improve wildlife habitat and help the trees better resist disease, insects and wildfire.”
Yuba River Acting District Ranger Jonathan Cook-Fisher


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The Union Updated Sep 10, 2013 10:54PM Published Sep 10, 2013 10:54PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.