The LCFSC Diamond Mountain Initiative meeting was called to order at 5:31 pm on September 6, 2017 at the Susan River Fire Protection District Office, 705-145 Hwy 395 in Johnstonville, California. Attendees were Chuck Lewis; Bobette Jones, Hannah Tangeman, Phil Nemir, Bob Andrews, Elizabeth Norton, Tom Esgate, Lloyd Keefer, Cathy Dirden, and Carol Keefer.
I. Welcome and Introductions – LCFSC Managing Director Tom opened and asked for introductions.
II. National Forest Foundation (NFF) Capacity Grant Update – Tom had a project update published in the Lassen Times and will have one more before the end of the grant term of September 15th. He will then submit a final report in October.
III. SNC DM USFS NEPA Process
USFS Activities – Chuck Lewis reported response to comments are being reviewed by the SO and a couple late comments which shouldn’t be an issue. Both regarding the owl issue. He hopes to start the Baxter Road access getting the easements in October based on getting reports done. Tom told him about his call to Dave Hays; he advised Dave of Chucks great job. He told him Chuck shared with him about the vacancy setting us back; Tom shared with him is concern about a delay and asked if he could do anything to move it forward. Dave said he would check and get back with Tom. Tom stated when he did the GHG application, Eileen ran the numbers and the GH benefits for biomass utilization were negative. Unfortunately, the numbers didn’t get run until late. Eileen connected with Julie Wingate, but only talked to her briefly before the application was due. In the interim, Eileen called Cal Fire stating they had to run multiple models to get positive numbers. He wants all to know in the future that multiple scenarios need to be run. Bob Andrews stated a Phil Steward at Forestry Extension at UC Berkley helped develop the criteria. Tom stated in an attempt for funding, the last few times they had an auction for GHG credits, there were no bidders. The last auction they had the biggest proceeds ever and are flooded with money. He feels we will now have a healthy pool of money to apply for and said we need to be prepared. Chuck said Julie Wingate will be moving on to another job and will see if her replacement can go over what she did. The contact person at Cal Fire regarding the GHG numbers is Tadashi Moody who has dealt will all going through the GHG and Eileen is also a good contact.
LCFSC / GHG Activities – Tom said we are in a hold mode; Eileen is ready to start. Chuck will connect with her Monday after the deadline and start sending her info.
Greenhouse Gas Application – Tom stated we did not get awarded. Sierra National Forest and SNC both received $5 million each, and the Hayfork Watershed Center were awarded. SNC was focused on Lake Tahoe and Sierra National focused around Yosemite and tree mortality. Tom felt our weak link was that CEQA wasn’t cleared. He asked Representative Dahle to see if he can get the ranking sheet on how Cal Fire made their decisions.
DM CEQA RAC – We received approval from the RAC to help us with the CEQA. We can’t do the CEQA until we have the NEPA. We don’t know what the final decision of the Forest is until it’s final. We don’t want to put a lot of effort in it in advance and have to make changes. It’s a three-month process. If we get it done by the end of December, we should know by the end of March. We want to apply for the last round of SNC funds. When we found out we didn’t have a GHG benefit for the biomass, we pulled the biomass out and only applied for handwork which had a benefit. We were able to do that since we had private funds available; the next round we won’t have the private funds for match. We will use the biomass in the next GHG project to get the benefit. Discussion re CEQA vs. NEPA requirement among projects.
IV. SNC DM Implementation – Tom reported a biomass and mastication efforts going on. Some personnel issues with the biomass effort. The masticator is doing great; some red flag warnings off and on. Discussion re masticator contractors.
V. CFSC DM Grant – Work will happen in conjunction with SNC.
VI. CFSC WWUI – The same for this one.
VII. SRA DM Status – Going very well. They will run the clock out and probably not have enough crew hours to use up the funding by the end of the grant term. Tom will move the funding into mastication rather than leave money on the table. They are working the same quarter. Chuck is also using Cal Fire crews and running short on crew hours. He will look into the possibility of obligating funding to FSC. FSC has to spend the crew funding by the end of March and it can’t be expended. Cal Fire may be able to bring in more crews. Discussion re contracting out the transportation engineer work. Chuck said they are exploring avenues.
VIII. Honey Lake Valley RCD SNC Grant Status – Phil reported the work is laid out, the prospectus is out for bid for mechanical and hand work. They plan to be flexible with contractor’s availability for work. They too are concerned about trucks and drivers. Discussion re issues arising with trucking.
IX. Treatment Funding Discussion
SNC USFS – Funding was discussed above.
SRA – The State Department of Finance put together a budget for next year putting in $200 million this fiscal year for Cal Fire treatments up from $15 million. Don Gordon emailed and encouraged us to ramp up applications for larger projects. Discussion re biomass projects and chip subsidies. Lloyd feels it could be the political pressure from tree mortality and Dept. of Finance might recognize the cost of firefighting is skyrocketing and it’s about time to put money on the ground maybe reducing the State costs down the road. Tom stated funding came from the GHG option; they divvied it up, with $85 million backfilled for SRA since they’re dropping the SRA; $200 million is set aside for Cal Fire for fuel projects which is separate from the GHG projects we would be bidding on. Discussion re Cal Fire allocating and balancing funds among the counties.
X. Other – Chuck asked if his project was chosen for a RAC grant. Tom stated he heard it was not. Elizabeth provided a list of those projects funded for Tom to read off.
XI. Next Meeting & Adjournment – The next meeting will be held on Monday, October 2, 2017. Meeting adjourned at 6:50 pm.