2016 Grants Coordinator Report
May 2017 photo by Rita Frank | The result of OTFSC and PG&E grants is logged timber and safe burn piles
Fuels reduction work for our two 2016 PG&E grants (for $63,300 and $37,500) was completed in mid-September. As required, our focus was exclusively on fuels reduction within 1000 feet of PG&E assets. Because of the horrendous, drought- and bark beetle- induced tree mortality in Pinehurst and Miramonte, the vast majority of our fuels reduction expenditures were for felling and bucking dead and dying trees, masticating the slash and decking the logs. However, at a small number of sites, where fire hazards were especially high near PG&E assets, we have also bucked the trees, masticated slash and decked the logs previously left by contractors working for PG&E and County or State public agencies. Given the scale of the tree mortality here and the vast amount of fuels reduction needed, we further prioritized our efforts so as to give priority to fuels reduction along ingress/egress routes for evacuating residents, emergency first responders and PG&E operatives.
Our contractual work was done by Topnotch, Inc., run by LTO (Licensed Timber Operator) Brack Welton, who lives in Squaw Valley. With this PG&E funding, Topnotch has felled 684 trees, which translates to an impressive average of $120 per tree, and this includes expenses for traffic control when it was required. Final reports have been submitted for both grants this month.
SRAFPF GRANT (State Responsibility Area Fire Prevention Fund) 2016-2017
Our SRAFPF grant is a two year grant for the maximum of $100,00. It began last March, with OTFSC working to obtain landowner agreements. Actual ground breaking for our contractual work (felling and bucking dead and dying trees, masticating the slash and decking the logs all done by Topnotch, Inc.) was May 16th.
As of now, the contractual budget is already virtually spent. As advised by CAL FIRE, our work was focused on dead and dying trees along ingress/egress routes. CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) compliance was necessary wherever we worked, and until mid-July that was +200 ft out from road center along County roads (Dunlap, Todd Eymann, Hogback, Orchard), thanks to the County naming us in their CEQA document. By that time much of our contractual budget was already spent on work along Todd Eymann and Dunlap and Orchard and so only very modest work has been done under SRAFPF auspices along feeder roads and Hwy 245. A total of 451 trees have been felled with this grant; this translates to an average of $166/tree, which includes the sizable costs of traffic control that was required for almost all of the work of this grant. Just under $7300. remains for contractual work, primarily earmarked for masticating work that was too hazardous to do during the fire season. We anticipate closing out this grant well before the March 2018 end date.
IMPENDING GRANT EFFORTS
We are collaborators with Yosemite/Sequoia Resource Conservation and Development Council (Y/S RC&D) in a grant approved by the California State Fire Safe Council to develop a California Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) for East Fresno County. We will meet with Y/S RC&D in the first week of December to plan these efforts.
NEW GRANT SUBMISSIONS
Because so much more tree mortality and fuels reduction work is needed in our service area, we have submitted four new SRAFPF grants, each for the maximum of $200,000:
1) Hazardous Fuels Reduction for Pinehurst and Miramonte Foothill Communities
2) Downed Logs Removal for the Foothill Communities in the 180 Corridor of East Fresno
3) Tree Removal for the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones Adjacent to Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks
4) Tree Removal for the High Fire Hazard Severity Zones in the North Central Tulare County Sierra Foothills
Grants 1, 3 and 4 will primarily focus on work within 300 feet of permanent structures (including school, community centers, power lines/power stations, communications tower) and along ingress/egress feeder roads. All three will involve 1) felling and bucking up dead and dying trees; 2) masticating the slash, and, unless landowners want to retain them, 3) removing the logs so generated. The removal of logs is a significant improvement in promoting fire safety over our previous grant efforts, when funds were more limited. Removed logs will be repurposed or chipped.
Grant 1 will also allow for general fuels reduction, that is, for forest thinning, and for removing ladder fuels and dense brush/chaparral threatening the safety of structures or ingress/egress routes. Grant 2 will focus on removing the logs left in tree mortality grant efforts in the past year (ours as well as those left by PG&E, Fresno County Public Works and CALTRANS).
— Dotty Woolum, OTFSC Grants Coordinator