In July 2013, the Mountain Fire, which started on private land across Highway 243 from the Forest Service’s Keenwild Station, burned more than 27,500 acres. Most of this burned acreage was in the San Jacinto Wilderness Area.
Last week, the Forest Service announced it has formulated a plan to reforest a portion of the burned land not within the wilderness area.
The agency is proposing to plant Jeffrey and Coulter pines seedlings on more than 300 acres. Chaparral occupied much of the other burned area outside the wilderness area. If the proposal is approved, work will begin during the winter and early spring of 2015, according to Kayanna Warren, San Jacinto Ranger District forester.
The Jeffrey and Coulter seedlings will only be planted in areas where they had formerly dominated. The seedlings will come from the Forest Service’s Placerville nursery, which collected seed stock from this elevation in both the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa mountains, Warren said. The project is estimated to cost about $250,000.
The Forest Service plans to plant about 200 seedlings per acre and hopes to have 37 trees per acre survive after five years. The goal is no fewer than 10.1 trees per acre.
While much of the work will be done through a contract, Warren added, “Volunteers will be involved. The community has expressed an interest in restoring the area and helping.”
The proposal says no new access roads will be needed, nor fertilizer or herbicide will be applied as part of this project. As the seedlings grow, they will be monitored and protected from encroaching competition during the first four years.
The proposal and a map may be found on the San Bernardino National Forest website at: http://data.ecosystem-management.org/nepaweb/nepa_project_exp.php?project=43430.
SBNF is requesting written comments on the scope of this proposed action by Oct. 24. The responsible official is District Ranger Arturo Delgado.
Comments may be submitted via email text or in readable format (.doc, .pdf, .txt, .rtf) to [email protected], with “Scoping – Reforestation NEPA” in the subject line, or by mail to Kayanna Warren, project lead, at U.S. Forest Service, San Jacinto Ranger District, Attn: Kayanna Warren, P.O. Box 518, Idyllwild, CA 92549.