US Forest Service Completes First Phase of CLERC-Funded Roadside Hazard Tree Removal Project
The scope of work for this portion of the project includes 500 acres of roadside hazard tree abatement in areas burned in wildfire. The goals of the project include improved ingress/egress, reduction of roadside fuel loading, and creation of fuel breaks to slow the spread of future wildfires.
Work consists of mechanical felling and piling of standing dead trees within 200 feet of key roads within the Mendocino National Forest. Several routes cleared with the first contract are identified in the Lake County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) as important for maintaining ingress/egress.
The contractor completed the first contract of 175 acres and a contract has been awarded by the USFS for the remaining 325 acres of work, which will be completed by the end of 2023. The US Forest Service is planning to burn the piles produced by the project as soon as conditions permit. Control lines have been installed around the piles in preparation for burning during the winter of 2022-23.
Inflation Drives Up Costs, Federal Funds Come to the Rescue
For the initial 175 acres, bids came in $600/acre higher than budgeted in the grant. This was largely due to the passage of time between the time the grant application was submitted and the time the project was implemented (about 2 years), in addition to pandemic-induced labor supply chain issues, and record high inflation across the economy as a whole. However, the USFS was able to provide federal funds to cover the difference in contractor costs, which resulted in over $105,000 being invested in Lake County that otherwise would have been spent in a different community.
More Projects Planned
The USFS also just recently completed the environmental review for the North Shore Restoration Project, which will facilitate ecosystem restoration on over 40,000 acres of federal lands. The USFS and CLERC have entered into a Master Participation Agreement in order to allow CLERC to play a greater role in implementing projects on federal lands, in addition to securing the funding.
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