The Sierra County has completed its first fuel reduction project on its lands in the Sierra Buttes/Lakes Basin at Packer Saddle. This was a high priority fuel reduction area because it is used heavily by mountain bikers, hikers, sightseers, and 4 wheel drive enthusiasts. It includes the start of the Downieville Downhill trail and the beginning of the Sierra Buttes Lookout Trail.
The project was funded by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy ($167,200) using Proposition 68 funds as part of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy Watershed Improvement Program. The primary intent of the project was to reduce the risk of high intensity fire surrounding the headwaters of the North Fork Yuba River-Packer Saddle and Sierra Buttes/Lakes Basin area as well as surrounding public and private forest lands and the communities of Bassetts and Sierra City. Benefits will also include enhanced watershed health.
The project reduced understory fuel along 10,000 feet of road frontage, 150 feet on either side of road, totaling 69 acres.
A light-on-the-land approach was used to protect the aesthetics of this recreational area. Islands of low vegetation were retained, track marks were avoided, hand work was used on steep slopes, and care was taken to evenly distribute chips and lopped limbs. Specimen trees were protected. Snags for future nesting were retained.
The professional forester overseeing the project was Kevin Whitlock of Under the Trees, and the forest contractor was Misita Tree and Land, both of whom did an excellent and sensitive job.
The Sierra County Land Trust has acquired 1525 acres of land in the Sierra Buttes/Lakes Basin
The project will be discussed at the June 16 meeting of the Sierra County Board of Supervisors.