2018 Ferguson Fire in Mariposa County Photo credit: Inciweb
December 4, 2018 - DAVIS, Calif. - In the wake of California’s most destructive and deadly wildfires, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California has a message for private forestland owners: We have technical and financial assistance to help you improve the health of your forest and reduce wildfire hazard.
“Wildfire seasons are growing longer and more severe, and California’s private landowners are working hard to meet the daunting challenges of drought, insects, dead trees and overcrowded forests” says California State Conservationist Carlos Suarez. “We are happy to be one of the many partners working hard to help landowners improve forest health and reduce wildfire hazards on private land.”
Suarez says that investments in conservation on forest land has jumped significantly for NRCS California in recent years, going from about five percent to 10 or more percent of the Agency’s funding through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). In the past five years, the Agency spent nearly $54 million improving conditions on more than 535,484 acres of private forestland. In 2018 the totals were $15 million on forestry practices on over 115,216 acres. Suarez anticipates similar funding for forest health in 2019.
“Eligible landowners may receive assistance on conservation practices such as pre-commercial thinning, slash treatments, tree and shrub plantings, forest management plans, and other activities that will promote forest health and diverse wildlife habitat,” says NRCS State Forester Chris Zimny. “These practices also reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire by removing excess, overstocked timber stands and leaving less fuel to feed a fire.”
NRCS works with landowners to develop a conservation plan customized to meet the owner’s objectives for their land. The plan will address resource concerns and propose improvements that can be voluntarily implemented. Conservation planning provides direction to achieve goals and improve natural resources.