View Sierra Institute's Winter 2017 Newsletter update on our social science and wood utilization projects and learn about new ways to stay engaged throughout the year.
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Winter 2017 Newsletter

Greetings, partners and friends!

          We hope you all had a fine holiday season and are embracing the new year as February is already upon us. Our team at Sierra Institute has been busy this winter advancing projects and planning for spring and summer meetings and events. We are excited to bring you this update on what's been happening with our social science and wood utilization projects.

          Check the announcements section at the end of the newsletter to learn about new ways to engage with Sierra Institute through our new Project Spotlight initiative and how to continue supporting us throughout the year. 

Wishing you all the best,
Your peers at Sierra Institute

Department of Conservation - Watershed Program Study

The Sierra Institute has been working to assess the CALFED and Statewide Watershed Programs through a study funded by the California Department of Conservation. Over the last four months, our research team has visited several watersheds across the state, including the American River, Battle Creek, Suisun Bay, Pit River, Lower Mokelumne River, Los Angeles, and Santa Monica Bay watersheds, to conduct in-person interviews with stakeholders involved in watershed coordination efforts and projects funded through the state programs. 

At this time, our research team is working to compile case-study reports based on the site-visits and will soon select additional watersheds to include in the study. Selection of cases are based on a criteria developed by the team that represents diverse geography, funding amounts, and number of grants received. Visit our website page for more information. 
Sierra Institute researcher walks with a landowner in the Lower Mokelumne Watershed to discuss riparian habitat restoration projects implemented on his property. 

Sierra Cascades All-Lands Enhancement

Sierra Cascades All-Lands Enhancement (SCALE) is the mechanism for collaboration between eleven USFS Collaborative Forestry initiatives in California. Leading SCALE efforts, Sierra Institute facilitates in-person meetings, teleconferences, and other peer-learning opportunities for participating groups.
When it began in 2013, SCALE initially consisted of California’s three Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration (CFLR) Programs and has since expanded to include eight additional groups. (See the Collaborative Forestry page on our website for a list of groups included.) The expansion of SCALE offers an even greater opportunity to share success and lessons learned, as well as the chance to explore and overcome shared barriers to success as the groups work towards effective landscape-level forest restoration.
In September 2016, the SCALE group met in McClellan, CA.  During this meeting, participants discussed the nature of “all-lands” restoration and other identified topics of interest, Region 5 Acquisitions presented on local contracting, and eight SCALE member groups provided updates from their collaboratives. There were also sessions on the Regional Fire MOU, the National Forest Foundation’s Conservation Connect tool, and next steps for SCALE.  The next SCALE meeting will take place later this spring.
Sierra Institute staff lead the discussion on "all-lands" restoration at the SCALE meeting in September 2016. 

Burney-Hat Creek Community Forest and Watershed Group

The Sierra Institute continues to work closely with the Burney-Hat Creek Community Forest and Watershed Group (BHCCFWG) as they progress a vision of collaboratively designed restoration projects, resilient forests, and public/private partnerships. Sierra Institute facilitates meetings, provides documentation, and bridges communication between group members. Two significant events took place in the final months of 2016 for this collaborative forestry group.
In October, USFS representatives from both the Regional and National offices joined the BHCCFWG on a field tour of current project areas. Collaborative members had the opportunity to engage with USFS leadership regarding the opportunities and challenges associated with the Collaborative Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP). The discussion highlighted areas of improvement, but largely presented new opportunities for the group to explore in the future.
In 2004, the Eiler Fire burned approximately 32,000 acres of private and public land in Shasta County. Not to be discouraged, USFS staff have implemented a monitoring plan to inform the management of a more resilient forest in the future.  
In December, Lassen National Forest (LNF) announced the hiring of a Partnership Coordinator; the Partnership Coordinator acts as a liaison for Collaborative members and the USFS. Bobette Jones, USFS ecologist and regular participant in the Collaborative, was selected for this new position. A dedicated USFS staff member will enable the Collaborative to more effectively engage with the ongoing activities throughout the CFLR and LNF in general.
With new staff and new ideas, the BHCCFWG is looking forward to the next “big project”. To read more about BHCCFWG, visit the group page on Sierra Institute’s website.

Crescent Mills Wood Campus

Biomass program staff continue to navigate the path to redevelopment of the Crescent Mills site into an integrated wood products campus; such a campus will generate a local market for low-value wood derived from forest restoration activities, and create industry jobs for the local community. However, given the presence of arsenic, petroleum, and dioxins in the soil from former Louisiana Pacific sawmill operations at the site, we are now prioritizing adequate sampling, assessment, and cleanup so the property can be put back to productive use. The project received at $149,000 grant from the state this past fall for sampling work in order to fully understand the extent of contamination, with a final report is slated to be completed by April 2017. Results from this sampling will inform a strategy for effective cleanup this summer. We are excited for the opportunity to revitalize this abandoned “brownfield” site! 

Sierra Institute staff and partners from Humboldt State University discuss site redevelopment.

Stay tuned for more information on a field day this spring/summer that will give local residents an overview of the site cleanup process, in addition to the biomass program as a whole. Please contact program lead Camille Swezy for more information:

Fire Institute Blazes Trail for Thematic Learning Collaboration

The Fire Institute blazed through local schools from January 24 to January 27 with the goal of answering one burning question: how has fire and fire management shaped the physical, cultural, and social landscape of Indian Valley? The Institute was the culmination of months of collaboration between Greenville Junior/Senior High School (GHS), Indian Valley Academy (IVA), and Sierra Institute for Community and Environment. The week-long thematic learning program brought guest speakers and local experts to the joint GHS/IVA campus, and replaced traditional coursework with four days of labs, presentations, case studies and, yes, lots of fire.
Representatives from Collins Pine and Sierra Pacific Industries, Andy Juska and Cade Mohler (left to right), present to students about the challenges of managing fire on private timber land, and discuss their personal routes into private industry.
Students ignite their "hand-grown" matchstick forests to study the effects of slope, density, and tree height on fire spread.
The pilot Institute, which reached over 140 students between grades 7 and 12, recruited US Forest Service representatives, local Maidu cultural experts, and foresters at private timber companies to ensure that students had no shortage of presentations to attend and management perspectives to learn. Hands-on activities helped students explore more tangible aspects of what they were learning: burning “matchstick forests” simulated wildfires, and testing the durability of varying tree barks under intense heat explored the destructive capabilities of flames, while charcoal drawing activities and clay pot firing hinted at the creative potential of the same fire. The Institute concluded with students presenting their perspectives on what they had learned.

Perhaps most significantly, the Fire Institute signals a budding spirit of collaboration between Sierra Institute and the sometimes-competing high schools. The success of this program has sparked interest in follow-up Institutes and non-Institute programming to expand the natural resource education pathways in Indian Valley.


New Staff Member

Sierra Institute welcomes Luis Mayberry, our new Natural Resource Education and Recreation Intern. Luis's first task as an intern was to help organize and execute the Fire Institute. Read his bio on the staff page on our website. 

2017 Project Spotlight Initiative

Keep up with Sierra Institute's projects throughout the year with our new Project Spotlight initiative. Each month we'll feature a different project on our blog and social media pages to keep people engaged and make space for conversation about our work! This month we'll be spotlighting our Department of Conservation Watershed Program Study. Check our blog page every Friday to see new posts. 

Support Sierra Institute through Amazon Smile and Good Search

Continue to support Sierra Institute when you shop through and search through Simply select Sierra Institute for Community and Environment as your charity or cause to generate donations throughout the year.

Sierra Institute Joins Instagram

Sierra Institute recently joined the Instagram community! Follow us
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