Yuba Watershed Institute teams up with BLM to ‘Save the Big Trees’ | TheUnion.com

Yuba Watershed Institute teams up with BLM to ‘Save the Big Trees’

Know & Go

When: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15, rain or shine

Where: Meet at the North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural center on the San Juan Ridge, and carpool from there to the worksite.

Contact: RSVP to Tom Van Wagner, tvwywi@gmail.com, 530-802-1890

What to bring: A picnic lunch will be provided. Bring water, snacks, work gloves, duff hoes and clippers for clearing brush.

The environmental nonprofit organization Yuba Watershed Institute has again joined forces with the Bureau of Land Management to put on a volunteer workday to protect old-growth trees from wildfire and to enhance the overall health and diversity of the Inimim Forest on the San Juan Ridge.

“An abundance of big trees are the missing link in the forest ecosystem on the San Juan Ridge,” said Tom Van Wagner, president of the institute. “Protecting them from wildfire is vital to the overall viability of the forest.”

This will be the third time the Yuba Watershed Institute has put on this event, protecting over 100 old-growth trees from fire through the work of local and member volunteers.

Bureau of Land Management fuels management specialist Brian Mulhollen will be on-site to supervise the clearing and present a talk on fuels management and fire ecology.

“This kind of community-based forestry stewardship is critical to the South Yuba landscape,” said Mulhollen, who helped to supervise the two previous ‘Save the Big Trees’ events. “It really does take a community to take responsibility for fire management.”

The event this year will be sponsored by Erickson Woodworking, a San Juan Ridge-based furniture maker.

“Our business depend on the health of our local forests and a strong community,” said co-owner Tor Erickson. “Working with the YWI to make this event happen makes perfect sense to us.”

After lunch, Erickson Woodworking will be offering a tour of its facilities, showing how they take locally harvested hardwoods and turn them into luxury furniture.

This year’s event has generated broader support than ever before.

“We’ve managed to get support from many of the key environmental and community groups in the area,” said Van Wagner. “A big thanks goes out to the Sierra Streams Institute, Wolf Creek Community Alliance, San Juan Ridge Taxpayers Association and the South Yuba River Citizen’s League.”

He went on to say, “Even the local road committee has helped us get the word out,” referring to the Fire Access Road Association. “This year should be the biggest and best ‘Save the Big Trees’ event ever.”

Since its founding over 25 years ago, Yuba Watershed Institute has collaboratively, with the Bureau of Land Management to manage the Inimim Forest. A patchwork of both publicly and privately held parcels near the North Columbia Schoolhouse and environs, the Inimim Forest has benefited from expert forestry and much local volunteer labor. Fire management, wildlife habitat maintenance and sustainable forest products harvesting have been the primary goals of the unique shared arrangement, one adopted by other rural communities nationwide.

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