Giant Sequoia Forest Resilience Project – Beaver Creek

Summary

SCH Number
2020050164
Lead Agency
Forestry and Fire Protection, Department of (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection)
Document Title
Giant Sequoia Forest Resilience Project – Beaver Creek
Document Type
NOE - Notice of Exemption
Received
Posted
5/7/2020
Project Applicant
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
Present Land Use
Forest Land

Document Description
The proposed project is located 2 miles south east from Snowshoe Springs, CA and 7 miles north west from Camp Pendola, CA. The Giant Sequoia Forest Resilience Project – Beaver Creek is a 151-acre pre-commercial thinning and 32-acre broadcast burn project on the Beaver Creek property owned by Save the Redwoods League (The League). The objective of the project is to thin the excessive buildup of forest fuels throughout the project area as well as reintroduce the role of fire in the mixed conifer stands and ponderosa pine plantations established by the previous landowner on the Beaver Creek Property, which will in turn increase stand diversity, mitigate the potential for high severity wildfire, encourage the establishment of fire adapted pine species, and increase forest health and resiliency. The areas designated for thinning (Units 16 & 18 – 22) will be subject to small-diameter tree and brush removal conducted primarily by 20-person crews with chainsaws and hand tools. The objective is to remove trees less than 12” in diameter and brush in order to reduce the vertical and horizontal continuity of fuels and maintain and increase overall stand growth by redistributing resources to the remaining trees. The residual stand will generally maintain a canopy with 50-65 percent canopy closure and an average spacing of 15-21 feet, however these are only averages, as a clumpy distribution of trees is desired. The project will incorporate variable density structures where possible, with the additional goal of reducing ladder fuels. Target forest structure will be characterized as clustered, with groups of trees separated by sparsely stocked or open gap conditions. Spatial heterogeneity of forest structure will be promoted, including clumped tree distribution and canopy gaps, such as likely would have been maintained by an active fire regime. An additional goal within even aged units is to prepare them for long-term transition to an uneven-aged structure by creating gaps and clumps and prioritizing the retention and spacing of species other than ponderosa pine for diversity. The retained trees will be pruned up to 8 feet as appropriate by the height of the tree. The majority of the cut biomass will be lopped and scattered. Heavy equipment may be used adjacent to existing roads within 50 feet to masticate or chip vegetation. Tracked equipment may also access Units 20-22 via the mapped existing skid trail on the Operations Map. Pile burning will only be done along existing roads within the 50-foot corridor as depicted on the project map. The use of a masticator, a chipper, and/or pile burning will depend on locations of appropriate slopes for such activities (slopes less than 50%) and contractor availability. Slopes within nearly all of the thinning unit area are less than 35% except for some steeper cut and fill slopes along roads and some more variable topography in the northern portions of the project. Broadcast burning is planned for a 32-acre unit (#17). A fire line to contain the surface fire will be installed by hand along the perimeter except where the existing road forms the perimeter. Installation will include removal of vegetation and scraping to bare mineral soil by crews using hand tools such as shovels and macleods. The ignition unit was thinned from below and pile burned in 2010. The use of prescribed fire is meant to maintain restoration efforts in the stand. Standing dead trees may be felled for safety of burn crew during burning. Slopes within this unit are all under 40%. Scott and Burgan fuel model TL3 (183) best represents the overall fuels in the unit with some areas of TL8 (188) long needle litter scattered and intermixed throughout the area. The project area avoids Class I and II watercourses. An archeological survey has found two cultural sites within the project area, which are historic in nature and will not be impacted by project operations. The vegetation is Sierra Nevada mixed conifer forest. The overstory includes ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), sugar pine (P. lambertiana), white fir (Abies concolor), incense cedar (Calocedrus decurrens), and California black oak (Quercus kelloggii). The understory includes Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii), California hazel (Corylus cornuta var. californica), mountain whitethorn (Ceanothus cordulatus), deerbrush (C. integerrimus), and bear clover (Chamaebatia foliolosa).

Contact Information
Anthony Castan?os, Land Stewardship Manager
Save The Redwoods League
111 Sutter St 11th Floor,
San Francisco, CA 94104

Phone : (415) 820-5804
acastanos@savetheredwoods.org

Location

Counties
Tuolumne
Total Acres
183
Other Location Info
Dorrington and Boards Crossing 7.5 USGS quad Sections 29 and 30, T5N, R16E, Mount Diablo Base Meridian
Other Information
2 miles east of Snowshoe Springs, CA.

Notice of Exemption

Exempt Status
Categorical Exemption
Type, Section or Code
15304
Reasons for Exemption
The project fits under portions of 15304- Minor Alterations to Land. The project consists of minor treatments to vegetation in the form of pre-commercial thinning and low-intensity prescribed fire in mixed conifer and ponderosa pine stands. The project includes a broadcast burn that will be maintaining a previous forest restoration thinning treatment. The stand was thinned and pile burned in 2010. The project will have no impacts on watercourses. The activities will not result in the taking of endangered, rare, or threatened plant or animal species. Cultural resource sites will not be damaged or impacted by the activities of the project. Prior to burning, a burn permit and smoke management plan will be obtained from the Tuolumne County Air Pollution Control District and a burn permit will be obtained from CAL FIRE. 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 would 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, population 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 the Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit Headquarters in San Andreas.
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