Tulare County and the USDA, Forest Service entered into a Master Stewardship Agreement for the Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument to achieve land management goals for the national forest; and meet local and rural community needs to mitigate hazards and improve watershed and forest health.
The project's purpose is to improve overall forest and watershed health by reducing the dangers created by recent catastrophic wildfires and hazards to public safety in Tulare County. The project locations have widespread tree mortality hazards within national forest lands on critical transportation corridors and critical habitat. In 2020, the Castle Fire burned within the project. The next year, in 2021 the Windy Fire destroyed 97,000 acres, in the Project area. Both fires left very hazardous conditions for personnel, residents, and visitors accessing and traveling across the Sequoia National Forest. The fires also destroyed important habitat and environmental infrastructure. Due to the increased risks, California and Tulare County have proclaimed states of emergency for tree mortality paving the way for a united effort to implement full scale, immediate and aggressive measures to undertake efforts to remove dead or dying trees to restore forest and watershed health.
New growth in the bum scars have created conditions for invasive species to root and a lack of defensible space to protect against the spread of wildfires across the landscape; thus, limiting protection of key environmental infrastructure as well as personnel, roadway travelers, and communities along the main access roads. Not only does this project mitigate safety hazards for forest personnel working on habitat restoration work, but it will also address evacuation route capacity, safety, and viability under a range of emergency scenarios.