The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (“CDFW”) proposes to conduct post-fire forest restoration activities within the area impacted by the 2020 Slink Fire at the Slinkard/ Little Antelope Wildlife Area (“Wildlife Area”). Over 3,700 acres of wildlife habitat was burned in this wildfire on the Wildlife Area, including over 1,800 acres of critical mule deer winter range.
A Forest Management Plan was drafted by a Registered Professional Forester to inform the project activities. The proposed treatments are intended to address the need for restoration of wildlife habitat and improve the resiliency of the landscape to future wildfires. Project activities include thinning and reforestation of burned Jeffery pine-white fir and pinyon-juniper woodlands, aspen stand enhancement, and restoration of montane meadow and riparian habitats. Project activities include felling dead standing conifers followed by treatments to reduce the fuel load remaining on site with retention of snags for wildlife. Trees will be felled across slope and bucked to create full soil contact to act as an erosion control measure as well as a wildlife enhancement element. Excess biomass may be piled and burned, lopped and scattered or chipped and left on-site. Pile burning will comply with all air quality regulations and chipping shall be limited to a depth of 4 inches and not be continuous. Reforestation species will be predominantly Jeffery pine in burned Jeffery pine-white fir forests and pinyon pine in burned pinyon-juniper woodlands. The total project area includes 602 acres of the Wildlife Area.
Work will be completed by hand crews and low-impact equipment with ground pressures less than 10 psi such as compact track loaders, chippers, masticators, or similar equipment for processing cut material. Site preparation may include the use of herbicides to promote seedling establishment and control invasive weeds.
Bird clearance surveys will be conducted within 3 weeks prior to initiating any project activities. Biological and vegetation surveys of the project area will also be conducted within 3 weeks of any work conducted to evaluate the current site conditions and to assess presence/absence of special status plant or animal species. If special status plants, wildlife nursery sites, or active nests are found they will be sufficiently buffered, or the treatment will be deferred or modified.
Pre-project surveys and project activities will commence in summer 2023, as access permits. Operations will continue, based on crew availability, until completed. These treatments may be repeated as needed to promote establishment of conifer seedlings and control invasive weeds.