This project is located in a mixed conifer-oak woodland forest and chaparral community in the San Bernardino Mountains. Ponderosa Pine, Coulter pine, white fir, incense cedar, and black oak are the main tree species. Shrub species include a variety of ceanothus, manzanita, and other shrubs. The project is located on the Forest Lawn Scout Reservation property in Lake Arrowhead at an elevation of about 6,000 feet. This project will help reduce wildfire risk by piling and burning vegetation that is cut, as part of a separate project, to construct a fuelbreak for firefighting efforts.
Fuelbreak construction is currently taking place at the project site under a previous CEQA document (Forest Lawn Scout Reservation Project) which did not include pile burning. The fuelbreak will be approximately seven miles long and total approximately 250 acres when it is completed. The fuelbreak will be approximately 150 feet wide on each side of the camp's main roads. Fuelbreak width on each side of the roads will vary depending on accessibility but will be up to a 300 feet total width.
This Notice of Exemption is only for the piling and burning of the material generated under the current project that is being implemented. Piling and burning will be an alternative to chipping the material that is not easily accessible by roads. Piles will be approximately 10 feet in diameter and 6 feet in height. Hoselines will be extended to the project site to support the firing operations. The fire will be ignited using drip torches and fusees. Burning will occur during winter or spring depending on the burn window. All ground based equipment will be operated from existing roads or disturbed areas. No new roads will be constructed. Work will be accomplished using CAL FIRE crews.
This project fits under the Class 4 (Minor Alterations to Land) Categorical Exemption to CEQA. Class 4 is described as a "minor public or private alterations in the condition of land, water, and/or vegetation which do not involve removal of healthy, mature, scenic trees except for forestry or agricultural purposes." This project as proposed is to pile burn and does not remove healthy, mature, or scenic trees.
Field review by CAL FIRE staff confirmed that no exceptions apply which would preclude the use of a Notice of Exemption for this project. The Department has concluded that no significant environmental impact will occur to aesthetics, agriculture and forestland/timberland, air quality, biological resources, cultural resources, geology and soils, greenhouse gas emissions, hazards and hazardous materials, hydrology and water quality, land use planning, mineral resources, noise, populations and housing, public services, recreation, transportation/traffic, or to utilities and service systems. Documentation of the environmental review completed by the Department is kept on file at CAL FIRE's BDU Headquarters in San Bernardino.