Forest collaborative to develop new mapping tool to plan and prioritize projects

Photo by Katherine Evatt

Photo by Katherine Evatt

Foothill Conservancy continues to be an active member of our local forest collaborative, the Amador-Calaveras Consensus Group. The ACCG has been actively working to promote fire-resilient forests, protect communities from wildland fire, and promote healthy local economies since December 2008.

In 2019, the group formed an ad hoc working group known as the Strategic Landscape Assessment Working Group (SLAWG). Our Watershed Conservation Advocate, Shane Dante, is an active participant.

The SLAWG’s goal is to bring together diverse stakeholders to build and maintain a geographic information system-based digital mapping tool that will inform and prioritize future forest restoration and resilience projects in the ACCG area, primarily the upper Cosumnes, Mokelumne, and Calaveras watersheds east of Highway 49. The mapping tool will include elements such as past fuel breaks, forest thinning projects, wildland, wildlife habitat, and prescribed fire, and then add in data for planned projects. This will inform land managers and fire units where the gaps in treatments exist and where we should focus in the future.

In early December 2019, the first of what will be several mapping workshops was held in Jackson. The goal of this meeting was to engage stakeholders and begin compiling data. The turnout was exceptional. Participants included CalFire, the U.S. Forest Service, the Amador and Calaveras Resource Conservation Districts, Sierra Pacific Industries, private citizens, East Bay Municipal Utility District, the Upper Mokelumne River Watershed Authority (UMRWA), and several nonprofit ACCG members, including us. All agreed on the need and benefits of a single mapping repository that includes private and publicly managed lands, which land managers and fire response teams could use to design projects and make decisions during fires. Participants also stressed that the tool must be updated frequently so that it reflects what is happening on the ground.

This meeting helped guide the next steps for SLAWG and the conversations will be continued at further mapping meetings.

Meanwhile, last year, the California Department of Conservation awarded the Sierra Nevada Conservancy a $2 million block grant under the Regional Forest and Fire Capacity Program . This money is to go toward projects throughout the Sierra Nevada that will help communities prioritize, develop, and implement projects that will provide a more fire-resilient landscape, store carbon, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. UMRWA, as a sponsor for the ACCG, will receive nearly $50,000 of those funds to help develop the SLAWG’s mapping prioritization tool. This project is estimated to be completed by 2021, and will include portions of Amador and Calaveras counties, as well as at least a portion of the Cosumnes watershed in El Dorado County.

For more information, contact Shane Dante of our staff at 209-223-3508 or by e-mail

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