NWTF Dollars at Work: The Cleveland-Icehouse Forest Health Project

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In a previous blog post we emphasized the vital importance of why the time to act on our federal public lands is now.  We also highlighted what the NWTF is planning to do to help maintain this landscape as quality habitat for wildlife, hunters, and the overall public.  So, let us breakdown Phase I in our plan of attack to help restore forest health in a dying Sierra Nevada:

pre-bid meeting and tour
Loggers and USFS Staff scouting a unit on the pre-bid meeting and tour.
  • What
    • The NWTF has engaged in a 10 year Stewardship Agreement with the Eldorado National Forest to help implement and administer the Cleveland-Icehouse Forest Health Project.  This is a 3,000 acre forest thinning project that the NWTF is aiding the U.S. Forest Service in accomplishing.
  • Where
    • The project is located just North of Highway 50 on the Placerville and Pacific Ranger Districts of the Eldorado National Forest in El Dorado County.  Units are located on each side of Ice House Rd from Highway 50 in the South to Union Valley Reservoir in the North.
  • Why
    • The majority of the project takes place within two Ponderosa Pine plantations.  The Ice House plantation was planted after the
      forest health
      (L) One of the units marked to be thinned. (R) An already thinned unit by the USFS.

      1959 Ice House Fire, and the Cleveland plantation was planted after the 1992 Cleveland Fire.  Both plantations are overly dense and in severe need of thinning.  At their current densities, both are at extreme risk for stand-replacing wildfire, as well as insect and disease infestation.  But the main reason that the NWTF is involved, is because at current levels these stands have diminished value to wildlife that depend on early successional plant species for forage, such as the wild turkey.  Wild turkeys rely on annual forbs and grasses for food, as well as perennial shrubs that need sunlight to grow.  These shrubs are also essential for quality nesting cover.  At current tree canopy cover, there is little to no growth of these key plant species.  This project also takes place throughout the seasonal migration route of the Pacific Deer Herd.  High quality forage is vital for deer throughout this transition zone, because pregnant does need high quality plants for fawn development while in gestation.  This is key for fawn survival and recruitment, and important to the overall health of the herd.

  • When
    • Phase I of the project will be beginning late this summer.  The units are currently out to bid, and once a winning bidder is chosen, work will begin soon thereafter.
wild turkey hen
Wild turkey hen walking through one of the units.

This is a big step in the NWTF’s Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative in California.  It is our plan to engage in a Stewardship Agreement in every focal landscape identified in California, to truly make a difference for wild turkey habitat and hunters in the Golden state.  Help us in our mission by becoming a member, and attending one of our fundraising banquets to help the NWTF accomplish more work on the ground!

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