[env-trinity] Could other north state communities follow example of Weaverville Community Forest?

Joshua Allen trinityjosh at gmail.com
Mon Apr 27 12:03:33 PDT 2009


Could other north state communities follow example of Weaverville Community
Forest?

By Dylan Darling <http://www.redding.com/staff/dylan-darling/>
(Contact<http://www.redding.com/staff/dylan-darling/contact/>
)
Sunday, April 26, 2009
 [image: A group of mountain bike riders gets ready to head off into the
Weaverville Basin Trail system off Ridge Road. The area is part of the
Weaverville Community
Forest.]<http://www.redding.com/photos/2009/apr/25/30671/>

A group of mountain bike riders gets ready to head off into the Weaverville
Basin Trail system off Ridge Road. The area is part of the Weaverville
Community Forest.
 [image: Pat Frost, District Manager for the Trinity County Resource
Conservation District speaks during a Weaverville Community Forest meeting
in Weaverville on April 15.]<http://www.redding.com/photos/2009/apr/25/30672/>

Pat Frost, District Manager for the Trinity County Resource Conservation
District speaks during a Weaverville Community Forest meeting in Weaverville
on April 15.

http://www.redding.com/news/2009/apr/26/could-other-north-state-communities-follow-of/?partner=yahoo_headlines

The best way to reduce fire danger in the woods close to a town is to put
the community in control of forest management.

That's the theory behind a unique program called the Weaverville Community
Forest in Trinity County.

"We went at it with the point of view, 'How can we make this forest more
fire-safe?' " said Pat Frost, manager of the Trinity County Resource
Conservation District.

The community forest has garnered national praise, with the U.S. Department
of the Interior set to give its founders the Cooperation Conservation Award
next month. Each year the department honors four groups with the award.

The involvement of the community has made the forest successful, said Steve
Anderson, manager of the Bureau of Land Management's Redding office. He said
the fact that money from any timber sales on the land is spent on further
forest projects and the relatively small size of the forest have added to
its success.

"It gets to be too challenging if it gets too big," he said.

The BLM and the conservation district established the forest's first 1,000
acres southwest of town through a stewardship contract in 2005. Late last
year a similar contract between the district and the U.S. Forest Service
added another 12,000 acres to the community forest, sandwiching the town
with its own woods to the north and south.

Such contracts typically are created between federal agencies and timber
companies to guide the management of timberland. The contract is what makes
the forest unique, and a model for what could be done in other north state
communities close to federal land, Anderson said.

There is another community forest in Northern California, Arcata's Community
Forest on the North Coast. There the city of Arcata formed the 793-acre
forest by purchasing 622 acres between 1905 and 1955 and then adding another
171 acres in 2006, according to the city's Web site.

Anderson said he thinks there is the potential of establishing more
community forests around the north state similar to the Weaverville project.

For the community forests to be successful, he said, people in the community
need to be willing to work together and there should be a commodity that can
be sold from the forest - be it timber, sand or gravel.

"You have to have something that you (can sell and) have enough money to go
back and do other projects," Anderson said.

In the Weaverville forest, the commodity is timber.

Though there are timber harvests in the forest, those managing the acreage
say their first priority is not to produce lumber, but to reduce fire
danger.

In late summer 2001, Weaverville residents learned just how dangerous fire
can be. The 1,680-acre Oregon Fire destroyed 13 homes and threatened the
historic downtown. The green, tree-covered hills of the community forest now
stand in contrast to the still-recovering land charred by the fast-moving,
hot-burning Oregon Fire.

Frost said the group aims to keep future fires from doing such damage
through thinning, prescribed fire and other projects close to the community.

"You can't make a forest immune to fire," Frost said. "Fires are going to
happen, but you can do things to make fires less severe."

Reporter Dylan Darling can be reached at 225-8266 or ddarling at redding.com.
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