June Mountain Ski Area Whitebark Pine Restoration

June Mountain Ski Area Whitebark Pine Restoration

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Project Goal:

The overarching goal of the restoration project is to remove dying trees across 518 acres of National Forest System lands over five years. CalTrout is pursuing additional funding to accomplish this, and intends to leverage funds to implement further scientific research to measure long-term ecosystem changes and determine best alternatives for biomass utilization.


113 acres restored

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Project Stages

Impact Study

Monitoring

Implementation

Outreach

Post Monitoring

Estimated Completion Date:
Ongoing

Project Funders

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF)

Wells Fargo /NFWF Resilient Communities Program

Alterra Corporation

Pacific Gas & Electric Company

Fish Affected:

Threats:

Project Description

Recently, California has been ravaged by an uptick of intense wildfires. 15 out of the 20 largest wildfires in the state have occurred since 2000. In 2018, more than 8,400 wildfires scorched nearly two million acres across California, the most in recorded history. In the aftermath of another devastating wildfire year for the Golden State, many were left asking, "Is this the new normal?" After a century of fire suppression aimed at protecting people, property, and valued timber resources, Sierra Nevada forests have become densely packed and overloaded with dead wood that is primed to burn intensely and cause fires to spread quickly under hot, dry, and windy conditions.

Climate change has intensified the risk. In addition to concern over fire threats to life and property, the massive die-off is of major a concern to conservationists. Whitebark pine can live for 1,000 years or more near mountaintops and is considered a keystone species because of its ecological importance. Its large and nutritious seeds attract and feed chipmunks, squirrels, bears, and over a dozen different birds.

CalTrout, June Mountain Ski Area, and Inyo National Forest are working together to remove beetle killed whitebark pines and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire in the Rush Creek watershed. Thanks to funds provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Fuels Program, Wells Fargo's Resilient Communities Program, and the Alterra Mountain Company, approximately 11,175 dead whitebark pine from 75 acres of forest were removed in 2018.

In 2019, another 38-70 acres will be selectively removed with additional funds from Pacific Gas and Electric, allowing for the use of a helicopter to hoist and remove logs from the steepest slopes where ground-based equipment is too unsafe to operate.

By mimicking the effects of the natural fire regime, mechanical thinning is clearing out patches of dead forest and understory and producing less dense and multi-aged pine stands. The healthier forest benefits the June Lake community, California's iconic biodiversity, recreation opportunities, and downstream water users. Given the anticipated impacts of climate change and increasing water demands by a growing human population, projects like this unique nonprofit-corporate­government partnership will be critical for the continued coexistence of wildlife, fish, and people as we venture into the "new normal".

Project Partners:

Inyo National Forest
Mammoth Mountain Ski Area
US Fish and Wildlife Service

Latest Project Info:

CalTrout leads the way with launch of June Mountain Ski Area Whitebark Pine Restoration Project

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