We live in an awesome place. If there is something creative and bold that can be done to solve California’s forest health crisis, it’s going to be done in Tahoe-Truckee. We’re progressive and our forest managers are progressive. To the north and to the south of us, the forest is dry and dying. Our forest is green. We have an opportunity here, and we have to act now. This is what Jeff Brown told a captivated audience at Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation’s Forest Futures Salon.
Jeff Brown has been at the forefront of forest health management since taking the position as Station Manager of the Sagehen Creek Field Station in 2001. In July of 2005, he was promoted to the Director of the University of California-Berkeley’s Central Sierra Field Research Stations.
An incredible storyteller, Jeff spoke to how California arrived at the dire circumstances we now find ourselves in, with California’s largest fire ever growing in Mendocino thanks to a forest floor of fuel and the driest and hottest conditions on record. He spoke to the history of forest growth from the ice ages and the management practices that began with man’s arrival to these mountains.
At Sagehen, collaborators have been incredibly successful in developing scientific methodologies for better forest management by clearing the dead and dying brush and small trees and then prescribing low-intensity fires. Now, these groups want to scale their efforts up to include 500,000 acres of North Tahoe-Truckee forests. Jeff proposes that if they were able to start tomorrow, our forests, wildlife, and community would be safe from the threat of one of these massive fires within five years. Of course, what they need most is what any wide-scale solution to an urgent issue needs: funding and a shift in community perspective around fires.
And this is exactly what the Forest Futures Salon Series is meant to do. Forest health is the most urgent issue threatening our region. Not only is it not being addressed quickly enough, but those developing innovative solutions are having an extremely difficult time accessing the capital necessary to implement these changes. Furthermore, raising community awareness and cooperation is of the utmost importance.
While the investors, scientists, and nonprofit professionals in the room did not have all the answers last night, TTCF believes that we are getting closer to connecting the right people and right resources to develop wide-scale solutions to tree mortality and wildfire threats.