Placer County includes over 550,000 acres of heavily forested landscapes in the central Sierra Nevada foothills and mountains. This area stretches from Auburn to Lake Tahoe, and includes portions of three national forests, numerous state parks, and 60% of Lake Tahoe's west shore. The forested land is at significant risk for catastrophic wildfire due to the buildup of unnaturally dense vegetation following decades of successful fire suppression and exclusion. The County has experienced six major wildfires since 2001 burning more than 100,000 acres, including critically important upland watersheds and wildlife habitat.
The condition of Placer County's forests and how they are managed has a very strong effect on air quality. Wildfires are a significant source of air pollution, including fine particulate matter, ozone forming precursors, and air toxics, which are extremely detrimental to regional air quality and public health. Prescribed burning and open pile burning, important tools for reducing forest fuel loads, are also a significant source of air pollution.
Forest Management Activities
To address the risk of catastrophic wildfire and improve air quality, the District has teamed with other public and private stakeholders to implement environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable forest management activities to restore these forested landscapes to a fire-resilient condition. The District sponsored, in partnership with the University of California Berkeley Center for Forestry, a biomass waste for energy demonstration at the Center’s Blodgett Forest Research Station. The project served as a showcase for forestry management issues. The project was linked with numerous workshops held at Blodgett in 2012 and 2013 that provided a forum for educational and information exchange with a wide range of policy makers, environmental groups, and forest land managers.
The District produced a video documenting the biomass project and workshop issues, observations, and policy recommendations related to California forest management and utilization of forest residue for energy production. The video captures the views of a unique and diverse set of:
- Elected Officials
- Resource Professionals
- State/Federal Agency Representatives
- Utility Representatives
Blodgett Biomass to Energy Demonstration Project Video October 2013
For additional information, view Sierra Nevada Forest Health, Wildfire Risk Reduction and Biomass Utilization for Energy (PDF).
District projects have a wide range of social, environmental, and economic benefits including:
- Improving air quality by reducing open pile burning and mitigating wildfire size and severity
- Generating renewable energy from excess forest wastes that reduces our reliance on fossil fuels
- Helping mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gases
- Helping reduce wildfires and wildfire effects to protect and improve watershed health (water quality and quantity), forest
- Health, wildlife habitat, a sustaining supply of wood products, and forest recreation resources, and lower wildfire fighting costs
- Helping protect or increase local employment and rural community economic viability