Sonora, CA — The head of the Stanislaus National Forest brings news that the federal government has formally approved a Master Stewardship Agreement between Tuolumne County and the forest.
It is anticipated to increase the speed and number projects over the next decade aimed at improving the health of the Stanislaus National Forest. The details regarding the proposal were formally approved by the supervisors in mid-December. It’s something that had been in development behind the scenes over the past several months. At today’s board of supervisors meeting, Forest Supervisor Jason Kuiken announced, “Let me say that 2018 is looking to be a wonderful, wonderful year. The purpose of my being here this morning, is to say that I have in my hands, a signed copy of the Master Stewardship Agreement that you all approved just a few short weeks ago. Now, it is just a matter of taking this and putting it into action.”
The county will be relying on the Yosemite Stanislaus Solutions group to help lead and coordinate its efforts. The 24-member collaborative group was formed in 2010 to address issues surrounding forest health. The forest service will cover 80-percent of the needed funding for projects while the county will have to cover the remaining 20-percent through grants and other avenues. It is not immediately clear what specific projects will be completed. It is expected to pave the way for additional local input on forest efforts, and lead to the creation of more forestry jobs. The Master Stewardship Agreement will span at least the next 10-years. Congress allows master stewardship agreements for areas prone to natural disasters or other risks. The Stanislaus National Forest most recently experienced the 2013 Rim Fire, which burned over 257,000 acres, in total.
Kuiken added, “We will be working with you (county) throughout the course of this year, and for years to come, to make sure that the landscape around us remains beautiful, is resilient to wildfires, insects and disease…and will be a place where people come and enjoy for decades and centuries to come, as well as provide clean fresh water, habitat for wildlife, plants, etc.”
Those in attendance at today’s supervisors meeting gave a round of applause following Kuiken’s announcement, and the supervisors indicated that it is a significant moment. If all goes as planned, it could help serve as a model for other counties and municipalities threatened by catastrophic wildfires.