The Proposed Project consists of four phases, including (1) fuel reduction and hazardous fuel removal, (2) soil stabilization and slope protection, (3) reforestation with fire-resilient native habitat, and (4) maintenance and monitoring. The Proposed Project would occur on a 4.9-acre steep slope, on the west side of the Sweetwater Reservoir property, and adjacent to the Robert A. Perdue Water Treatment Plant and residential areas of the unincorporated community of Spring Valley, in San Diego County, California. Phase 1 includes site preparation activities and the removal of approximate 100-200 fallen, dead, or dying eucalyptus trees, and the removal of 50-100 eucalyptus trees in other conditions; other flammable debris and detritus will also be removed as part of Phase 1. The sparse native coastal sage habitat under the trees will be fully avoided, protected, and left in place. Phase 2 will include acquisition and installation of erosion and sediment controls (e.g. straw wattles, jute matting as appropriate), consistent with a Water Pollution Control Plan prepared for the project, by a qualified stormwater professional (e.g. QSD). The Project site is on a steep slope, and underground public utilities do exist in the project area, and it is necessary to install erosion and sediment controls to minimize slope erosion issues after removal of the eucalyptus grove. Phase 3 will include fire-resilient habitat restoration that will involve the salvage and direct planting of coast cholla (Cylindropuntia prolifera) and prickly pear (Opuntia littoralis) cuttings as well as hand seeding with native wildflower seed mix. The native cactus species retain water and will inherently suppress and reduce the spread of fire. There are similar cactus patches in the vicinity of the project site, and this added 4.9-acre patch will enhance this coastal sage and maritime succulent scrub vegetation community. As a result, declining populations of the coastal cactus wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) would benefit. The coastal cactus wren is a Federal Bird of Conservation Concern and State Species of Special Concern. Phase 4 will maintain erosion and sediment controls, remove or treat any eucalyptus regrowth, weed non-native annual species to promote establishment of cactus, and monitor for wildlife species that have benefited from the cactus/scrub. Phases 1, 2, and 3 will be performed in year 1 (2023-24), and Phase 2, 3, and 4 will last an additional 3 years (2025-2027).
The purpose of the project is to remove flammable vegetation from areas adjacent to the Perdue Water Treatment Plant and residential areas of Spring Valley, and thus protect these areas from the threat of wildfires. Portions of this area recently caught on fire, resulting in a fire that reached the Water Treatment Plant hydroelectric turbine building.
Sweetwater Authority and the residents of the Spring Canyon development and other adjacent Spring Valley areas would benefit directly from this project, as it would reduce available fuels in the urban-natural interface. In addition, the project area is adjacent to County of San Diego park lands and trails, and implementation of the restoration phase would beautify the area, enhancing the trail users experience. Finally, the project would also benefit of the restoration of 4.9 acres of native habitat, which could serve as habitat for sensitive species, such as the cactus wren.
The four phases of the Project described above would be managed by an experienced professional wildlife biologist and in close coordination with a stormwater professional to ensure that no existing natural resources, including wildlife species, in the surrounding areas are negatively impacted by the crews performing the project work. The project would also include a monitoring component to ensure implementation of restoration efforts are successful.