Hazardous trees to be logged around Scotts Flat Reservoir | TheUnion.com

Hazardous trees to be logged around Scotts Flat Reservoir

The Lowell Hill Fire caused the evacuation of a portion of Cascade Shores back in 2015.

The July 2015 Lowell Hill fire — and this October's devastating McCourtney and Lobo fires — underscored the dangers posed by overgrown brush and dead or dying trees in Nevada County.

Property owners all across the county continue to work to minimize those dangers and make their communities more fire-safe — and NID is no exception. On Wednesday, the board of directors awarded a $200,000 contract to log hazard trees at Scotts Flat Reservoir.

The areas to be harvested are along the northeast edge of the lake — which includes a portion of the area of Cascade Shores evacuated during the Lowell Hill fire, a hot-burning blaze that eventually ignited about 1,500 acres.

The logging contract actually implements a timber harvest plan approved by NID in 2013, staff members told the board.

The north and east sides are overgrown, which is causing a high fire danger; according to the staff report, Cal Fire has ranked Scotts Flat as a very high fire severity zone.

"This project will significantly reduce hazard trees and the potential for catastrophic fire risk … by removing fire fuels, hazard trees and dense under-story vegetation," the staff report stated.

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The district awarded the contract to the lowest bidder, Frank Dial Logging, which has done work for NID before. It is anticipated there will be a small profit for the district, of approximately $40,000, once the lumber is sold to Sierra Pacific Industries in Lincoln.

According to the staff report, the first phase of the project will be the east shore of the lake at Gate One campground, moving on to the other campgrounds of the north side as time allows.

Letters are being sent out to neighbors and residents of Scotts Flat and Casci roads to inform them of the project. A walk-through will be scheduled next week to present the project and discuss impacts including truck traffic and logging noise. NID anticipates logging will start toward the end of January.

Watershed Resources Planner Neysa King told the board that most of the slash will be chipped and spread on site, with some being hauled to a biomass facility. Care will be taken to fell targeted trees while preserving the surrounding trees, noting this is an environmentally sensitive area.

Residents can monitor the project online, she said, promising frequent updates and videos.

"It's an important, wonderful project, and the forest really needs it," King said.

Some Centennial questions answered

At NID's Dec. 13 meeting, community members asked dozens of questions following a presentation on Centennial Dam-related expenses, including where the money for the project is coming from. Responding to concerns raised by Nancy Weber, an NID board member, General Manager Remleh Scherzinger said the district plans to hire an independent auditor to take a closer look at the money spent on the project.

On Wednesday, Scherzinger said he had answers to some of the questions, but not any related to the planned audit.

In response to a question regarding the cost for a new Dog Bar Road bridge, he said that NID is working with both Nevada and Placer counties on siting the new bridge, and has been directed to maintain traffic patterns as close to the current patterns as possible.

"We are trying to meet that test," Scherzinger said.

The current cost estimate is about $6.5 million, he said,

Scherzinger discussed the delay in releasing the Environmental Impact Report, explaining that there are a number of competing projects also being worked on by staff. He told the audience there was no possible answer to a question about how long it will take NID to recoup the cost of the project.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

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