The current Sierra County Fire Safe Council and Community Fire Safe Plan does not identify specific communities at risk within Sierra County. Rather, the Plan indicates all communities within Sierra County are at risk, and specifies “Community Defense Zones” (CDZ) around all communities. The Plan specifically identifies a CDZ for each Calpine and Sierraville, and recommends fuel management strategies for each CDZ. This project has been designed to accommodate the recommendations of the Sierra County Fire Safe Council and Community Fire Safe Plan.
The Eastern Sierra County Community Fire Protection Project 2009 will reduce hazardous fuels on approximately 256 acres within the communities of Calpine and Sierraville.
Within the community of Calpine, proposed project areas will expand upon areas previously treated as part of the Community Fire Protection for Calpine Project in November 2008. Eighty-six acres within the community of Calpine were treated during the 2008 project. The proposed project will effectively connect those areas previously treated during the 2008 Calpine project to existing US Forest Service fuel reduction projects, as seen on the attached map 1 of 2 – Calpine Area. Following implementation, the area of reduced fuels between private and federal ground will be seamless, offering Calpine residents safe ingress and egress in the eventual event of wildfire, protection from encroaching wildland fires, and added safety to firefighters during suppression activities.
Within the community of Sierraville, proposed treatment areas will include the creation of Defensible Fuel Profile Zones (DFPZ) along the southern portion of the community, as suggested in the Sierra County Fire Safe Council and Community Fire Safe Plan. The proposed treatment area surrounding Randolph Hill contains two separate residential roads as sole access to the multiple residences in the area. The creation of DFPZs along these roads is critical to providing safe ingress and egress for residents and fire fighters, as well as providing added safety to firefighters during suppression activities. The proposed project will also tie into existing US Forest Service fuel reduction projects south of the community, as seen on the attached map 2 of 2 – Sierraville Area. Following implementation, the project will provide the community of Sierraville an extensive area of reduced fuels on both private and federal ownerships, increased protection from encroaching wildland fires and prevailing wind patterns, as well as safe egress and ingress for residents and firefighters as described above.
Mechanical mastication, biomass thinning, and hand treatment will be used to reduce surface, ladder, and canopy fuels. Surface fuels, including brush and downed material, will be treated to a post-treatment depth of no greater than 6 inches. Surface fuels larger than 1" diameter and/or 6 feet in length must be treated. Slash resulting from operations and slash present prior to operations must be removed, masticated, and/or chipped. No concentrations of surface fuels shall remain post treatment. Post harvest surface fuels should generally lack continuity. Single specimens of down woody debris are acceptable when isolated from other down debris and vegetation according to the treatment guidelines herein.
To reduce ladder fuels, trees 14” DBH and less shall be designated for mastication or removal. Trees under the diameter limit should be selectively thinned and left in openings where they would not create a fuel ladder condition that could lead to the initiation of a crown fire. Ladder and surface fuels shall be spaced to achieve a minimum vertical clearance distance of 10 feet, measured from the base of the live crown of the post harvest dominant and co-dominant trees to the top of the surface fuels. Residual trees shall be pruned such that live foliar branches achieve a minimum vertical clearance distance of 10 feet, measured from the base of the live crown of the residual trees to the ground level. Ladder and surface fuels shall be spaced to achieve the following maximum horizontal clearance distance, as measured from outside branch to outside branch of residual conifers: 0”-5" DBH = 15’ spacing; 6"-14" DBH = 20-25' spacing as measured from tree bole to tree bole. Conifer spacing shall not exceed 25 feet regardless of DBH class. Residual timber (leave trees) shall consist of healthy, vigorous dominant and co-dominant trees with full crowns, having greater than 40% live crown, that are free of defect, and are of the best physical examples of the pre-harvest stand tree species.
The goal of the treatment prescription is to reduce surface flame lengths to a post-treatment standard of 2'-4', thereby reducing the threat of crown fire and spotting, reducing fire intensity and rate of spread, and increasing safety for residents and firefighters. This prescription will provide increased fire resiliency of the treated stands, and allow for increased protection of watershed and habitat values in the event of a wildfire.