Innovative Field Projects and Scaling Up Solutions for Healthy Forests and Watersheds

To address legacy impacts and catastrophic climate changes to Sierra forests, meadows and watersheds, we plan and implement innovative, multiple action projects to maximize improvement to  projects.  forest and watershed health. Integrated forest health projects can include:

  • Thinning Forests for fuels reduction: reduces wildfire risk and promotes forest structure supporting diverse plants and animals.
  • Returning Beneficial Fire: creates wildfire resilient lands and healthier landscapes.
  • Restoring Meadows: improves floodplain function to safeguard our water supply, increase carbon storage, and provide essential habitat for wildlife.
  • Remediating Mines: reduces chemical and physical hazards, and reducing sediment down stream to benefit water supply infrastructure.
  • Restoring Watersheds: improves river and stream health supporting biodiversity and the state’s water supply.
  • Promoting Native Species: supports biodiversity, eradicates invasives, and protects critically-important species, both flora and fauna.
  • Supporting Small Wood Utilization: turning small-diameter trees removed in fuels reduction projects into useful products.

 It is imperative that we address forest health by taking a more integrated approach to managing our forests that includes restoring healthy fire and healthy soils, not just fuels reduction. 

This work is best when it centers tribal knowledge and supports tribal owned workforces. It’s also important to support community scale efforts whenever possible to better sustain local economies. Finally, The Sierra Fund prioritizes “process based restoration” that emphasizes working with natural systems to recover ecological health. Process based restoration re-establishing the processes that sustain ecosystems through low risk and low-cost approaches that minimizes heavy machinery and allows natural biodiversity and ecosystem resiliency to emerge.

What’s innovative about this work is the integration of fuels reduction with restoring meadows, mines, soils, and watersheds. If you think of fuels reduction as one treatment to cure an illness – this approach is like addressing diet, sleep, and exercise to restore more robust health beyond the original illness. You are less likely to experience another illness when you are healthier and/or more likely to  heal quicker or have less impact.

The Sierra Fund not only implements these projects, but documents when possible the economic benefits and monitors ecosystem responses. This information helps the imperative next phase of the work which is scaling up these efforts across the region.