Current conditions in the Arnold-Avery HFR project area are characterized by dense, mixed-conifer forests, which have experienced increased levels of tree mortality in recent years due to drought and bark beetles. Stand densities are currently above thresholds associated with increased risk of insect and disease mortality throughout much of the project area; surviving trees remain susceptible to future disturbances such as drought, outbreaks of insect and disease, and high-intensity wildfire.
The primary purposes of the Arnold-Avery HFR project are to improve the project area’s resilience to current and future large-scale disturbances (drought, bark beetle outbreaks, high-intensity wildfire) and to provide for public and firefighter safety. In order to meet these objectives, the project will reduce stand densities and competition among trees and other vegetation for limited resources (water, nutrients, light) and to abate hazardous trees, reduce elevated fuel loads, and maintain and improve the existing fuelbreak in the WUI near the communities of Arnold and Avery. To meet the needs of the project, multiple vegetation treatments are proposed including mechanical mastication, mechanical thinning, removal of dead trees, and hand (lop & scatter) work. In concert with treatments on federal USFS lands, the project area entails 7 private land units for a total of 74 acres.
The project area is on gentle to moderate slopes (<50%). Elevations range from 4800 feet in the north along Summit Level Road to ˜3200 feet in the south near Hathaway Pines. The project area is representative of the Sierran Mixed conifer forest type consisting of an overstory of Ponderosa and Sugar pine, Incense-cedar, White fir and Douglas-fir, and an understory of black and live oak over various brush species. There are no known endangered, threatened or sensitive plants or animal species within the project area. The project area is predominantly on main ridges and follows 2015 Butte Fire contingency lines; the primary drainage is the Upper South Fork of the Mokelumne River, fed by smaller drainages including San Domingo Creek, O’Neil Creek, and San Antonio Creek.