The Amador-Calaveras Consensus Group received the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Regional Forester’s Award Nov. 30 for “All Land Ecological Restoration.”
The group is a community-based organization that works to create fire-safe communities, healthy forests and watersheds and sustainable local economies. Their efforts have focused on reducing hazardous fuels in the Mokelumne River watershed, a common boundary shared between the Stanislaus and El Dorado national forests.
The award, presented by Regional Forester Randy Moore, recognizes the group’s success in securing grants through the National Forest Foundation to formally organize under a memorandum of agreement and to facilitate support for on-the-ground projects that reduce hazardous fuel conditions and put local residents back to work in the woods. Other organizations that have contributed funds for this work include private landowners, Fire Safe Council, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Calaveras Healthy Impacts Product Solutions and the Calaveras-Mariposa Community Action Agency.
ACCG has facilitated the hiring and training of a hand crew made up of Me-Wuk tribal members as well as a non-Indian crew. Both crews have been working on implementing a Community Wildfire Protection Plan for Glencoe and doing fuel reduction projects on BLM and private lands. In addition, the all-native crew has successfully completed fuel reduction work on several cultural resource sites on the Calaveras Ranger District.
Much of the woody material generated by these projects will be processed to make animal bedding, fence posts and firewood or to generate electric power. The unemployment rate in the West Point/Glencoe area of Calaveras County recently dropped in part as a result of this program.
The effort began nearly two years ago, when Calaveras County Supervisor Steve Wilensky gathered a group of public agencies, private landowners, Me-Wuk tribal representatives, environmental groups, small business owners and interested citizens together. The group sought to develop solutions to problems of extreme fire danger, overgrown forests, threatened water quality and persistent unemployment in the small communities of the eastern portion of the Mokelumne River watershed.
Members of ACCG are currently working to establish agreements between El Dorado and Stanislaus national forests, BLM and Central Sierra Resource Conservation and Development to improve watershed and forest health conditions on lands between highways 88 and 4 to the north and south, Highway 49 to the west and the crest of the Sierra to the east. Joint projects would include plantation thinning, cultural resource site stewardship and protection, watershed improvement, fuels reduction, wildlife habitat improvement and others.
ACCG is in the formative phases of making gains to improve landscape resiliency to catastrophic wildfire or pest outbreaks, improve riparian habitats, protect water quality and bring economic stability to the Mokelumne River watershed within Amador and Calaveras counties.
For more information, visit http://acconsensus.wordpress.com.