CalTrout Participates In Sierra Forest & Water Conservation Planning Projects

While strategic planning exercises don’t attract a lot of media attention, CalTrout participates in the creation of planning, strategy and integrated management plans, believing that getting good management practices set in writing makes the public planning process far easier.

With many of California’s forests heading for a strategic planning process in upcoming years, Mark Drew and Jenny Hatch (CalTrout’s Eastern Sierra and Northern Sierra managers) were instrumental in creating the National Forests In The Sierra Nevada: A Conservation Strategy document — a guide for protecting the Sierra’s forests.

(CalTrout’s Mark Drew also participated in the creation of the SNEP Plus 15 Years: Ecological & Conservation Science for Freshwater Resource Protection & Federal Land Management in the Sierra Nevada document)

The following is the overview from the Sierra Forest Conservation Strategy:

Introduction To The Conservation Strategy Overview

California is the most biologically diverse state in the nation. Compared to other states, California has the greatest number of plant species and the most endemic species – plants and animals that occur only in California. The California Floristic Province, which includes the Sierra Nevada, has been designated as a global biodiversity hotspot by Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund. Floristic diversity in the California Floristic Province is highest in the Sierra Nevada and Transverse ranges (Richerson and Lum 1980). The rich biological diversity and high endemism are the result of adaptation and evolution in response to the highly varied topography, climate zones, fire regime, geology, and soils found in the Sierra Nevada. The region contains one of the most biologically diverse temperate conifer forests on the planet, with 27 different species of conifers and over 3,000 vascular plants, 400 of which only occur in the Sierra Nevada (Centers for Water and Wildland Resources 1996). About 300 species of terrestrial vertebrates, including mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians use the Sierra Nevada as a significant part of their range, with an additional 100 species occupying the bioregion as a minor part of more extensive ranges elsewhere (Id.). One hundred thirty-five plant species and sixty-nine terrestrial vertebrate species found predominantly in the Sierra Nevada are considered at risk by state or federal agencies (Id.). These species are threatened by a variety of stressors – California’s rapid pace of development, habitat loss, habitat degradation, new pathogens, competition from introduced invasive species, and disruption of essential ecological processes such as fire. The additional stress from expected changes in future climate and the synergy among stressors are likely to affect the Sierra Nevada bioregion in ways not previously anticipated.

Land management planning on national forest lands in the Sierra Nevada offers a critical opportunity to define biologically appropriate protection and restoration strategies in this diverse region. With approximately 40 percent of the region comprised of national forest lands, the Forest Service is the largest land manager and oversees eleven national forests covering approximately 11.5 million acres. Thoughtful and forward thinking planning has the potential to positively influence a significant portion of the region. It is also timely to undertake a comprehensive review of biological resources in the region. Management activities on national forest are governed by their respective forest plans. The forest plans are intended to have a life time of about 15 years. The forest plans for the national forests in the Sierra Nevada were first adopted in the mid to late 1980s. Collectively, these forest plans have been amended three times since first adopted, and they are now ripe for a thorough review and revision. Forest Service leadership is in agreement with the need to revise the forest plans. The agency, in July 2012, released a draft revised forest plan for the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit and began in 2012 the process to revise three other forest plans (Inyo, Sierra, and Sequoia national forests). The Forest Service has adopted an ambitious schedule to revise a forest plan within three years of initiating the process.

In anticipation of the public dialogue about forest planning, our coalition developed the following conservation strategy for the national forests in the Sierra Nevada. The purpose of the strategy is to identify issues we believe to be a high priority to address during the process of revising forest plans and to suggest specific tools, methods, or actions to resolve or address these issues.