SNC invests $19 million in early action wildfire resilience projects

Jul 15, 2021 | SNC Updates

Earlier today, our Governing Board authorized 15 forest and wildfire resilience grants totaling just over $19 million under a new Immediate Action Wildfire and Forest Resilience (IAWR) grant program.

“The Sierra Nevada covers a quarter of California and our communities, along with headwater forests rich in biodiversity and carbon, are at increasing risk from damaging wildfires,” said Angela Avery, our Executive Officer. “We could not be more pleased that our Board authorized more than $19 million in early action funding for these 15 critical wildfire resilience projects to start this summer.”

overlooking reservoir with trees surrounding it
The Concow Resilience Project is in the Wildland Urban Interface where dense forest burned at high severity in the 2018 Camp Fire, resulting in almost 100 percent forest loss. The project will restore 784 acres of severely burned forestland using methods that will make future fire behavior less severe and result in a climate-resilient, carbon-stable woodland.

The grants will fund Sierra Nevada fire safe councils, nonprofit organizations, resource conservation districts, and water agencies to manage just over 11,600 acres of Sierra Nevada forestland for reduced fire risk to communities, infrastructure, and natural resources across the Sierra Nevada region. Funded projects include strategic forest health treatments, like the 3,770-acre TPI Bootsole Forest and Watershed Restoration Project, and climate smart reforestation and community protection projects like the Concow Resilience Project that is restoring fire resilient forest cover to lands near Paradise that burned in the 2018 Camp Fire.

Learn more about these projects

large smoke plume engulfs the sky above a forest with a small plane flying nearby
The fast-moving Beckwourth Complex Fire is actively burning in Plumas National Forest and is the largest fire in California so far this year. Although it’s too soon to assess the impacts, fires that exhibit similarly extreme fire behavior often cause lasting harm to ecological systems and degrade natural resource values. The TPI Bootsole Forest & Watershed Health Project will complete work nearby to reduce the risk of large, damaging wildfires on that landscape in the future. Photo credit: Air National Guard.

“The Governor’s early action budget represents a strategic shift, investing funds directly into high-risk regions and putting communities in the driver seat to ensure projects not only reduce wildfire risk but also improve local economies and ecology,” said Deputy Secretary for Forest and Wildfire Resilience Jessica Morse. “The Sierra Nevada Conservancy is bringing a fast, thoughtful, and community-based approach to help remarkable mountain communities not just survive fires but thrive.”

Our IAWR grants are some of the first state-funded projects resulting from that investment. We prepared to respond to the 2020 fire season by developing and adopting IAWR program guidelines in March. When the SNC was allocated $20 million for shovel-ready projects in California’s April 13 early action budget, strong regional relationships and expertise of area representatives located throughout the Sierra Nevada allowed us to solicit and evaluate 32 applications requesting $38 million in funding.

active bulldozer surrounded by trees
Many of the projects funded will complete forest health treatments like mechanical thinning. Thinning overcrowded forests restores healthy forest structure and improves wildfire resilience.

“The projects authorized to receive early action funding show the benefits of the Shared Stewardship Agreement between California and the USDA Forest Service,” said Liz Berger, deputy regional forester for the Pacific Southwest Region and USDA Forest Service representative on the SNC Governing Board. “Eleven of the early action projects funded by SNC today will improve forest resiliency across the landscape and amplify our commitment of staff and funding for this important work.”

Learn more about these projects