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Permit Sonoma releases updated draft of county Community Wildfire Protection Plan

Katherine Minkiewicz-Martine, SOCONEWS

This week Permit Sonoma, in collaboration with local fire agencies, community members and organizations, released the updated draft of the Sonoma County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) for public review.

A CWPP is a detailed document that measures wildfire risks specific to an area and identifies ways to mitigate risks in a comprehensive plan. The plan also provides a prioritized list of projects that if implemented, can help reduce wildfire hazards.

Before the plans are submitted to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors for approval, Permit Sonoma will host a draft review meeting in each county district in order for the public to learn about the plan and provide input.

The virtual meeting dates for each district are as follows:

District 1 – Jan. 20, 6 – 7:30 p.m.

District 2 – Jan. 13, 6 – 7:30 p.m.

District 3 – Jan. 19, 6 – 7:30 p.m.

District 4 – Jan. 26, 6 – 7:30 p.m.

District 5 – Jan. 27, 6 – 7:30 p.m.

The public comment period for the draft CWPP is open until Feb. 28. Comments may be submitted to the Community Wildfire Protection Plan project page or via email at PermitSonoma-WildfirePlan@sonoma-county.org.

Read more at https://soconews.org/scn_county/permit-sonoma-releases-updated-draft-of-county-community-wildfire-protection-plan/article_e12e6f6e-749b-11ec-8a2a-17fd9e118f52.html?

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Sonoma County needs public input on wildfire plan

Colin Atagi, PRESS DEMOCRAT

Beginning Thursday, the public may weigh in on a long-term Sonoma County plan to enhance wildfire protections and minimize damage.

A draft of a Community Wildfire Protection Plan will be presented during a 6 p.m. Zoom meeting for Sonoma County’s second district, which includes Petaluma.

The plan and other upcoming meetings are listed on the county’s official website for the plan.

“There’s gonna be lot of information presented at these meetings to give people context to what we are doing,” said Bradley Dunn, policy manager with Sonoma County’s Permit & Resource Management Department.

The 400-page plan identifies high-risk areas and prioritizes projects designed to minimize the threat and damage of wildfires.

Projects include developing an evacuation plan for Bohemian Highway communities in the western county, a prescribed burn in the Sugarhood Complex area east of Santa Rosa and improving emergency response and preparedness in the Camp Meeker area.

The plan is expected to go before the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors for approval later this year.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/sonoma-county-needs-public-input-on-wildfire-plan/?trk_msg=6G93I0RD1S7KB2PG8LVEJLAG4C&trk_contact=8LCG0IN7LNSGSSH59B7T0MAVBK&trk_module=new&trk_sid=GLMDB2ARUSFL0V8QG5IINGJ3O8&trk_link=3C7TQP2C1GAKFEPS5H0HI25GBS&utm_email=157294458471E43CD45CF5795F&utm_source=listrak&utm_medium=email&utm_term=https%3a%2f%2fwww.pressdemocrat.com%2farticle%2fnews%2fsonoma-county-needs-public-input-on-wildfire-plan%2f&utm_campaign=pd_daily

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Greenbelt Alliance announces its Resilience Playbook

GREENBELT ALLIANCE

The Resilience Playbook is your go-to guide for accelerating equitable adaptation to the climate crisis in the Bay Area. It offers a holistic approach to advancing solutions that address overlapping environmental, economic, and social challenges. The Playbook brings together curated strategies, recommendations, and tools to support local decision-makers and community leaders wherever they are in their journey.

Go to website: https://resilienceplaybook.org/

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Global NGOs warn COP26 that burning forest wood for energy sabotages climate action

Luisa Colasimone, ENVIRONMENTAL PAPER NETWORK

Declaration reacts to high-profile biomass industry greenwashing drive

Glasgow, 10 November 2021 – Environmental organizations are pledging their opposition to burning forest biomass for renewable energy in a declaration issued today at the Glasgow climate conference (COP26). The statement (below) was issued as the biomass and wood pellet industries host a series of events at COP26 that NGOs say greenwashes the use of forest biomass for energy.

Burning forest wood for renewable energy is growing explosively, particularly in Europe where renewable energy targets and subsidies of over €10 billion per year reward biomass as “zero carbon” energy. While some policymakers promote replacing coal with wood, biomass harvesting and use has been implicated in increasing emissions, degrading the EU’s forest carbon sink and contributing to declining biodiversity. Bioenergy is not being directly discussed at COP26, but the role of nature and carbon uptake by forests and other ecosystems is critical to the world’s ability to deliver the Paris Agreement’s goal of holding global temperature rise to less than 1.5 degrees C. Amid concerns about the climate and forest impacts of burning forest wood for fuel, Europe’s largest biomass plant was recently delisted from a leading clean energy index last month due to sustainability concerns.

Read more at https://environmentalpaper.org/2021/11/global-ngos-warn-cop26-that-burning-forest-wood-for-energy-sabotages-climate-action/

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How a California state forest became a battleground for logging redwoods on public land

Ashley Harrell, SFGATE

A century-old redwood — California’s most revered tree — lies dead on the forest floor.

Its trunk has been sawed into two large sections, a message scrawled on its stump in red marker: “STOP.” Beneath, the stump’s diameter is recorded: 55 inches, about the height of a 10-year-old child. Lower still, in smaller letters, another message: “This is not fire prevention.”

Surrounding this tree are other redwoods that have been felled or girdled, meaning large swaths of their bark have been carved away from their trunks. More redwoods are marked blue — they too are slated for a timber harvest. Dead foliage and piles of branches abound.

The wounded and dead trees look like casualties left behind on a battlefield. And in a way, that’s what they are.

Welcome to Jackson Demonstration State Forest, a 48,652-acre forest managed by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire). Although it’s little-known outside the coastal Northern California county of Mendocino, Jackson has become ground zero in an escalating war over the management of redwoods on public land, with catastrophic wildfires and global climate change necessitating urgency and raising the stakes.

Read more at https://www.sfgate.com/california-news/article/norcal-jackson-forest-redwood-logging-controversy-16530191.php

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As California burns, some ecologists say it’s time to rethink forest management

Hayley Smith and Alex Wigglesworth, LOS ANGELES TIMES

As he stood amid the rubble of the town of Greenville, Gov. Gavin Newsom this month vowed to take proactive steps to protect California’s residents from increasingly devastating wildfires.

“We recognize that we’ve got to do more in active forest management, vegetation management,” Newsom said, noting that the region’s extreme heat and drought are leading to “wildfire challenges the likes of which we’ve never seen in our history.”

Yet despite a universal desire to avoid more destruction, experts aren’t always in agreement about what should be done before a blaze ignites. Forest management has long been touted as essential to fighting wildfires, with one new set of studies led by the University of Wisconsin and the U.S. Forest Service concluding that there is strong scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of thinning dense forests and reducing fuels through prescribed burns.

But some ecologists say that logging, thinning and other tactics that may have worked in the past are no longer useful in an era of ever hotter, larger and more frequent wildfires.

“The fact is that forest management is not stopping weather- and climate-driven fires,” said Chad Hanson, a forest and fire ecologist and the president of the John Muir Project.

Many of California’s most devastating recent fires — including 2018’s deadly Camp fire and the Dixie fire, now the state’s second largest on record — seared straight through forests that had been treated for fuel reduction and fire prevention purposes, Hanson said.

Read more at https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-08-21/california-burning-is-it-time-to-rethink-forest-management

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How has Armstrong Woods recovered almost a year after the Walbridge Fire?

Katherine Minkiewicz-Martine, SOCONEWS

[Michele] Luna said the fire that went through Armstrong Woods was a healthy fire. “It’s coming back quite nicely. It’s really quite beautiful.”

Almost a year after the Walbridge Fire made its way down Austin Creek and into parts of the forest floor of Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, the forest is showing healthy signs of regrowth.

The Walbridge Fire started on Aug. 17, 2020, after a rare summer thunderstorm that was responsible for several large wildfires in the state.

Only days after the fire started, it was at 1,500 acres and growing with no containment.

With decades worth of overgrown brush and dry fuel buildup, the fire wasn’t contained for weeks and it made its way down drainage basins and through the crowns of redwood forests, burning a total of 55,209 acres.

As the fire made its way into Armstrong Woods, fire crews were stationed in and around the park and near the 308-foot Colonel Armstrong tree in an effort to protect the great giant and its neighbors.

While the Walbridge Fire did not impact any structures or iconic trees such as the 1,400-year-old Colonel Armstrong tree, the fire did back its way down through the Austin Creek State Recreation Area through the Bullfrog Pond Campground, causing damage to picnic tables, bathrooms, fencing and trails.

Read more at https://soconews.org/scn_county/how-has-armstrong-woods-recovered-almost-a-year-after-the-walbridge-fire/article_3b524414-fa2d-11eb-be73-a328375490aa.html?

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Local tribal citizens are advocating for more cultural burns

Katherine Minkiewicz-Martine, SOCONEWS

As smoke from the massive Dixie Fire made its way to Sonoma County, the Healdsburg Fire Department convened a group of fire ecologists, land management experts and stewardship specialists on Aug. 4 to provide a presentation to the community on fire ecology and how certain burns can help restore the land and work to help prevent devastating wildfires.

Clint McKay is a tribal citizen of the Dry Creek Band of Pomo and Wappo Indians. He’s a retired parks superintendent for the city of Santa Rosa and he spends much of his time giving fire ecology talks and working as an Indigenous education coordinator at the Pepperwood Preserve.

He also refuses to use the term “land management.”

“Management invokes that you control something, that you can control it and command it. Obviously we cannot,” McKay said. “I chuckle to myself every time I hear ‘natural resource management,’ ‘fire fuels management,’ ‘vegetation management.’ If we begin to think that we can manage fire, we’re in for a whole lot more of what we’ve been experiencing the past decade and what we are continuing to experience today.”

McKay has been advocating for cultural burns for a long time, however, the idea of using fire to prevent fire can sometimes be tenuous among fire fatigued Sonoma County residents.

Read more at https://soconews.org/scn_healdsburg/news/local-tribal-citizens-are-advocating-for-more-cultural-burns/article_35d615f6-f8a7-11eb-bfaa-d7403ca9249a.html?

Posted on Categories ForestsTags , ,

Refuge no more: Forested Sonoma County enclave laid bare by Walbridge fire — and now, by salvage logging

Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A group of ravens fled south against the bright summer sky, escaping the noisy chopper that rose above the ridgeline, starting its daily shift plucking charred, downed trees from steep canyons within the Walbridge fire footprint.

The disturbed birds weren’t the only ones troubled by the din and commotion that have penetrated the once serene Mill Creek watershed — a lushly forested haven before lightning-sparked wildfire ravaged the region last summer.

The flames burned hottest in the remote creek canyons here, west of Healdsburg, and around Guerneville’s Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, which remains closed, the risk of burned, standing timber still deemed too high for visitors even 11 months after the fire.

Residents and landowners traumatized by the loss of their homes and community last August are grieving a changed environment, as well, and what feels to many like an invasion, as an occupying force of heavy equipment operators and crews from multiple agencies remains at work in the area.

But what was simply a prolonged intrusion to be endured became acutely personal and painful over the past few weeks, as Pacific Gas & Electric contractors began tagging stately coast redwood trees for removal from burned-out home sites.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/refuge-no-more-forested-sonoma-county-enclave-laid-bare-by-walbridge-fire/

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Sonoma County awarded $37 million FEMA grant to mitigate wildfire risks to life, property and the environment

SONOMA COUNTY Press Release

President Joe Biden announced today that the County of Sonoma will receive a $37 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency designed to help local, state and tribal agencies in California receive reimbursement for certain costs related to wildfire risk reduction. Biden made the announcement Wednesday at a White House briefing of governors from Western states. The grant is part of an overall $1 billion Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities funding grant and requires a local match of 25 percent, or approximately $13 million, which Sonoma County plans to finance using PG&E settlement funds, for a total amount of $50 million.

“Today I’m announcing a $37 million grant to Sonoma County, California, in support of fire mitigation efforts that are underway,” President Biden said at the start of the briefing. “Because Sonoma knows all too well the devastation wrought by fire, they are the first to apply for the mitigation funds.”

The grant funding will be used to address vegetation management and fire fuel reduction in Sonoma County, including selective thinning of certain canopies, trimming undergrowth, fuels reduction for safe ingress and egress of emergency vehicles, and the creation of shaded fuel breaks and green belts to serve as fire breaks. The funding also will be used to support private property owners to prevent losses while increasing the environmental and natural values of our wildland areas.

“Since 2017 we have focused on innovative wildfire risk reduction strategies in Sonoma County. The approval of this project, which is the first of its kind in the country, validates the hard work and innovation in fire risk reduction that’s been underway for the last four years,” said Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, Chair of the Board of Supervisors. “These funds will help us implement ‘house outward’ strategies such as cost-share incentives for private property owners who need help with hardening structures or creating defensible space. Our goal is to get to 100 percent of at-risk homes having defensible space. This grant will also facilitate ‘wildland inward’ strategies to create protective buffers around our communities, including landscape scale management strategies like grazing greenbelts and shaded fuel breaks.”

County officials intend to distribute the grant funding as part of an integrated, innovative cross-agency “systems” methodology designed to work simultaneously at large wildland scale and neighborhood scale beginning with specific project areas in the Mark West, Lower Russian River and Sonoma Mountain areas. The “Inside-Out, Outside-In” approach includes structural hardening and defensible space to the inner core, while applying hazardous fuel reduction techniques to the outer core to create an overarching wildfire resilience zone that reduces the risk of catastrophic losses in the Wildland Urban Interface.

From 2017 through 2020, fires have burned more than 300,000 acres in Sonoma County, destroyed nearly 7,000 structures and killed 24 people.

For more information about Sonoma County’s recent fire mitigation grant from FEMA, please contact Permit Sonoma at (707) 565-1925 or Tennis.Wick@sonoma-county.org.