Flyover of Caldor Fire and PGA TOUR Players Forest Walk Part of Commitment to Sustainability and Environmental Change
TAHOE TRUCKEE, CA (July 18, 2022)— PGA TOUR players Joshua Creel and Jonas Blixt got a bird’s eye view of the region’s environmental challenges. After watching a CalFire fire chief narrate a flyover of the Angora and Caldor fire burns, the golfers hiked the Sawtooth/06 trail to look at evacuation routes, the wildland urban interface (WUI) and current efforts by the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation (TTCF) and its Forest Futures campaign to help communities at risk.
For the event, the Barracuda Championship – the PGA TOUR tournament contested at Old Greenwood – partnered with TTCF and its Forest Futures Campaign to highlight its work to minimize the risk of extreme wildfires through better preparation, investment in forest health and infrastructure, and diversification of local economies.
The Sierra Nevada region has become a tinderbox due to drought, a bark beetle infestation that killed more than 16 million trees, and forest overcrowding that drains vital water out of the ecosystem and covers the forest floor with flammable fuel. Simultaneously, the rural economies in the region have lost the economic engines that ensure basic infrastructure to manage forests, including saw and paper mills, and woody biomass processing facilities. CalFire has classified the entire Tahoe Truckee region as Very High or High Fire Hazard Severity Zones.
Before starting their hike, Blixt and Creel viewed footage from an early morning flyover of the burn from the recently contained Rices fire narrated by CalFire Fire Chief Brian Estes of the Placer County Fire Department. Chief Estes discussed issues facing the region and how the work of TTCF and Forest Futures exemplifies what communities can do to take effective action. The flyover included views of the golfers’ hiking route along the Sawtooth/05 trail and Route 89 corridor, as well as an aerial perspective of the Old Greenwood Golf Course—site of the Barracuda Championship—that showed the proximity of the golf course and residential areas to the forest.
The hike, led by TTCF CEO Stacy Caldwell and Tahoe National Forest Truckee District Ranger Jonathan Cook-Fisher, showcased the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy forest and took the golfers to a lookout over 5 Creeks – a key evacuation route that has yet to be fully cleared.
We are grateful to the Barracuda Championship and PGA TOUR for helping us highlight the complexity of this important issue. By employing lessons learned during COVID, we quickly provide funding where it’s needed most. Our investment in forest-health keeps communities safe, diversifies the local economy, and accelerates innovative uses for forest waste. By safeguarding the Tahoe Truckee region, we protect a vital watershed and create generational impact for all who love this special place.
-Stacy Caldwell, TTCF CEO
TTCF’s three-year, $30M Forest Futures Campaign, a comprehensive playbook that can be replicated by other communities, is the culmination of more than four years of work with 97 multi-disciplinary experts to form a strategy and action plan that addresses a variety of interrelated forestry issues. To date, $5.4M has been raised to fund Forest Futures, and this summer, TTCF distributed almost $2M in grants.
Phase one awarded $1 million to nine local institutions with 11 forest management projects currently underway, including planning hazardous tree removal for critical evacuation routes; working with local community organizations in recovery efforts; increasing community engagement, education, and public awareness; and introducing urban and rural youth to forestry management.
Phase two addressed some of the area’s economic inequities by providing direct grants to local fire districts to support defensible space and fuel reduction efforts, fill gaps in funding, and pay for community wildfire resilience coordination. It encourages workforce development by providing field equipment and scholarships for students in Community College Forestry and Fire Programs; builds infrastructure by funding green waste wood fuel processing programs; and accelerates market solutions through a business strategy prize to help entrepreneurs scale up small businesses.