Developing Forest Resilience to Fire – Independence Lake
TNC received a $2 million grant from Cal Fire, $400,000 of which is for forest thinning this year at the Independence Lake Preserve. A grant from TRF will provide funding to assist with implementation of forest thinning, both along the outlet channel from the dam and along the north road along the lake. The Cal Fire funding will cover thinning of up to 205 acres in other units on the Preserve.
Along both sides of the outflow channel of Independence Lake is an area of approximately 20 acres encompassing very dense stands of lodgepole pine. The trees along the channel are growing on spoils from the construction of the channel in the late 1930s. The density of lodgepole pines is concerning because if wildfire burns in these stands, the trees are likely to topple into the channels and create a severe debris blockage. Adjacent to this acreage, dead and dying pines and white fir may result in increased wildfire danger to the trees along the outflow channel. We will contract with a licensed timber operator to mechanically thin and/or hand-thin dead, diseased, and otherwise stressed pines. The harvested trees will be disposed of in earthen pits on the property within already established log landings. During winter when there is snow cover, we will either burn the woody material in the pits or fully bury the material. This method of disposal is being selected because local wood mills and biomass plants are at capacity for harvested materials from many sources.
The proposed project advances TRF’s Grant Priority II Watershed Improvements: One objective of the project is to reduce soil erosion along the north shore road by installing erosion control measures at existing sites along the road where culverts have failed or road washout has occurred. This work is necessary in preparation for lake shore tree thinning and hauling with mechanized equipment; and Grant Priority IV Re-Forestation and Re-Vegetation Projects: The project will improve resiliency of the forest to wildfire and reduce the risk of woody debris blockage to TMWA’s outflow channel below the Independence Lake dam, and reduce the risk of fire and sediment deposition along the north and south shores of the lake.