Stanislaus National Forest approves Rim Fire replanting plan

BY JOHN HOLLAND/jholland@modbee.com

The Stanislaus National Forest gave final approval to a plan for replanting part of the Rim Fire acreage.

Forest Supervisor Jeanne Higgins signed off Wednesday on the plan, which calls for planting conifers on 21,279 acres. It is little changed from a proposal she released for public review in May.

The plan involves just 8 percent of the 257,314 acres affected by the 2013 fire, the largest in the Sierra Nevada’s recorded history. Much of the acreage is in Yosemite National Park, which leaves recovery to natural processes. Some is on private timberland, which already is being reforested. The national forest has areas that it will not plant because it is brushland, has poor access or did not burn severely.

The plan has support from Yosemite Stanislaus Solutions, a coalition that includes environmentalists, the timber industry and other business leaders in Tuolumne County. They agreed that it strikes a balance between bringing badly charred areas back to life while protecting soil, wildlife and other resources.

21,279 Acres to be replanted in Stanislaus National Forest portion of Rim Fire

4,031 Acres that will recover naturally as trees drop cones

12,756 Acres of older plantations to be thinned of wildfire fuels

“This effort would not have been possible without the engagement of the community,” Higgins said in a letter to the public. “I commend the collaborative efforts of YSS and others to make this outcome possible.”

The approval came on the third anniversary of the fire’s start near the confluence of the Tuolumne and Clavey rivers. Keith Matthew Emerald of Columbia was accused of building an illegal campfire that caused the blaze. Federal prosecutors dropped the charges after two key witnesses died.

The planting will start in February or March and take three to five years, said Maria Benech, reforestation team leader. Professional crews will do the vast majority of the work, but the forest will set aside some spots for volunteers, she said.

Under the plan, 4,031 acres of less severely burned conifers will be left to reseed naturally through cone drop. Crews will thin another 12,756 acres of older plantations within the burn to help them resist future fires. And 3,833 acres will be managed mainly for oak for the benefit of deer.

John Holland: 209-578-2385


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