Sonora, CA – The Stanislaus National Forest Supervisor Jeanne Higgins on Wednesday signed the Rim Fire Reforestation Record of Decision (ROD) ironically on the same date the fire broke out three years ago.
The draft decision was released at the end of April, as reported here. It included four different sets of strategies for reforestation to be used over 40,000 acres along the Rim Fire footprint. For instance, one section will have manual herbicide applied and seven different planting strategies utilized, with the trees per acre planted ranging from 152-303. This is the third phase of recovery efforts to address and enhance important ecological, economic, and social objectives for the burn area and surrounding lands and communities, according to forest officials.
In a letter to the public, Supervisor Higgins said “I am pleased to announce that my decision, based on community input and referred to as the “Community Alternative” will help create a fire resilient mixed conifer forest that contributes to an ecologically healthy and resilient landscape rich in biodiversity through a variety of treatments including: deer habitat enhancement; natural regeneration; noxious weed eradication; thinning of existing plantations; and, a combination of reforestation methods.” Higgins also praised the collaborative efforts with Yosemite Stanislaus Solutions (YSS), along with the multiple community workshops and numerous presentations. Higgins noted “This effort would not have been possible without the engagement of the community. I commend the collaborative efforts of YSS and others to make this outcome possible.”
Forest Service Spokesperson Clare Long indicated that the reforestation is expected to take about ten years to complete. She notes that some of the trees that made it through the fire are now showing signs of tree mortality and will need to come down in order to make it safe for crews to do the planting in the designated areas, which could slow the work. Long also indicates that the drought is the major worry and that is why planting will not start right away, “We are only going to be planting in February and March. It is the time when soil moisture and temperatures are ideal to plant and give these seedlings the best opportunity to grow.”
The Rim Fire started on August 17, 2013 in a remote area of the Stanislaus National Forest near the Clavey and Tuolumne Rivers it burned 257,314 acres including 154,430 acres in the forest. Click here for maps and additional information on the reforestation.