The proposed action is to establish a desired condition for forested BLM lands within the Upper Ridge Upper Nature Preserve (URNP) area that would have moderately open-spaced and multi-aged mixed conifer-hardwood forests that support a fire-resilient landscape. Forest thinning, removing cut vegetation and prescribed fire would effectively reduce existing hazardous fuels, promote forest succession and improve the overall quality and health of the forest. The treatments aim to reduce forest surface and canopy fuels for the purpose of restoring and improving forest health and reducing risks to the surrounding community from unplanned fire events. In total, treatments would create and maintain shaded fuel breaks in approximately 40 acres with machine based treatments. Prescribing burning would occur as pile burning or as broadcast burning. In total approximately 60 acres would be traded with understory broadcast burn. Burns would occur during cooler, non-fire season months which typically occur between the end of September to the end of May.
The UNRP consists of approximately 120 acres of dense, overstocked forestland consisting of a mix of brush, oak woodland and mixed conifer. Within the community of Magalia, the Paradise Pines development surrounds this forest and is classified as Wildland-urban interface. Limited forestry or fuels treatments in the UNRP have included the cutting and chipping of shrubs. Over the last 100 years, the suppression of wildfire has contributed greatly to increased tree and brush densities and a buildup of surface fuels. This lack of periodic fire disturbance has created unnaturally heavy fuel loadings that recently became intermixed with diseased and dying conifer species due to insect infestation and drought-stress. Surface and crown fuels now make continuous, horizontal and vertical fuel complex that is primed for a catastrophic wildlife. A high intensity fire in this area would immediately threaten thousands of nearby residents an homes, and would negatively impact watershed and forest resources in the long-term.
It has been determined that no exceptions apply which would preclude the use of a NOE for this project. This project is consistent with the requirements stated in Section 15304; Minor Alteration to land, and will have no significant environmental impacts to aesthetics, agricultures 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, noises, population and housing, public services, recreation, transportation/traffic, or to utilities and service systems.
The proposed action would use prescribed fire to improve and maintain flora and fauna species diversity, reduce hazardous fuels for fire-adapted ecosystems on both watershed, and landscape levels. It also conforms with the National Fire Plan to restore and maintain fire resilient landscapes and create fire adapted communities.