Thursday, 25 July 2024

California Demonstration State Forest System adds 2,500 acres to statewide total for research, restoration and conservation

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, announced Monday the addition of more than 2,500 acres to its demonstration state forest system.

Acquisition of these forested properties increases opportunities for critical research, forest restoration and public recreation.

These two new properties, comprised of 2,246 acres along South Cow Creek in Shasta County and 267 acres in the headwaters of the Bear River in Nevada and Placer counties, were acquired as part of the Pacific Watershed Lands Stewardship Council’s commitment to permanently conserve watershed lands for the public good.

The lands are being donated from Pacific Gas and Electric and will be managed in partnership with the Shasta Land Trust and Bear Yuba Land Trust who will hold conservation easements on the properties.

“The addition of the Cow Creek and Bear River properties to the Cal Fire demonstration state forest system is another exciting chapter in California state forest stewardship,” said Kevin Conway, Cal Fire’s State Forest Program manager. “The properties that currently make up the forest system were first acquired nearly a century ago as clear-cut forests. Since then, we have successfully demonstrated how to re-grow forests, restore habitat, and provide for public recreation, among many other values. These recently acquired acres have not been as extensively logged, and we’re excited to steward these areas for forest health, conservation and restoration, climate and fire resiliency, and the many other values that these special areas provide.”

California’s demonstration state forests serve as a living laboratory for how to care for and manage California’s forest lands for multiple benefits — recreation, watershed protection, wood products and sustainable timber production, and habitat restoration — given a changing climate and increasingly severe and intense wildfire seasons.

The forests provide unique research and demonstration opportunities where environmental scientists, foresters, and other researchers can study the effects of various forest management and restoration techniques to help inform management practices for government, nonprofit and private forestland owners.

“These important additions to our state forest system offer an opportunity to further the valuable research and ecological work underway on California state forestlands while contributing to critical climate goals. Adding these parcels to the California state forest system bolsters Cal Fire’s continued commitment to providing forest landowners and others with timely, relevant information about forest management,” said Cal Fire Deputy Director for Resource Management Matthew Reischman.

Common activities on state forest lands include evaluating sustainable timber harvesting techniques that test current forest practice rules, watershed restoration, a variety of university research projects to help answer pressing forest management questions, and other activities such as cone collecting for seed, and recreation such as mushroom collecting, hunting, firewood gathering, horseback riding, camping, mountain biking and hiking.

Adding these properties follows the 2019 acquisition of the North Fork Mokelumne River property comprising 1,054 acres in Amador County.

In total, Cal Fire will receive seven properties from the Stewardship Council by early 2023 bringing the total acreage of California’s demonstration state forest system to over 84,000 acres statewide. These properties will increase the diversity of forest types under Cal Fire’s stewardship and create new opportunities for research and demonstration of sustainable forestry techniques.

Cal Fire will work collaboratively and closely with the Bear Yuba Land Trust and Shasta Land Trust who hold the conservation easements on these properties to ensure that the scenic, open space, forest, wildlife habitat, recreation, and historic and cultural values are protected forever.

The properties will be stewarded for these multiple uses under a Forest Management Plan to be approved by the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection.

For more information about California’s demonstration state forests, visit the Cal Fire website.

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