WELCOME to Nick Jensen, CNPS’ brand-new SoCal Conservation Analyst! His job is to bolster the efforts of the SoCal chapters’ volunteers, participate in ongoing collaborative planning efforts with CNPS’ partner organizations, and form new coalitions to ensure inclusion of underrepresented and non-traditional partners. He is the lead CNPS staff person covering conservation advocacy across the 11 Southern California Chapters. This area covers 10 counties and is home to 25 million Californians (64% of the state’s population), with an additional 3 million people in Baja California, Mexico. A BIG job!
VEGETATION TREATMENT PROGRAM
The CA Board of Forestry and Fire Protection (= CalFire) has reissued the DEIR for its proposed Vegetation Treatment Program (VTP), which aims to “treat” (withprescribed fire, mastication and/or herbicides) for “fire resistance” every bit of California’s State Responsibility Lands (SRL)—including in OC.
OC’s SRL are mostly the unincorporated areas in the foothills: i.e. our Wilderness and Regional Parks and Reserve areas. “Treatment” seems to mean cutting and maintaining fuelbreaks along every ridgeline. This is contrary to research that shows that the presence of a fuelbreak, in and of itself, doesn’t stop a fire from spreading; a fuelbreak’s main value is in giving firefighters a place to group (Syphard et al, 2012). A map showing OC’s SRL is Appendix A2.9 in http://bofdata.fire.ca.gov/board_committees/resource_protection_committee/current_projects/vegetation_treatment_program_environmental_impact_report_(vtpeir)/. The map has to be enlarged at least 400% to see the squiggly gray lines that denote the proposed fuelbreaks. Such extensive vegetation manipulation would result in:
1. Islands of CSS and chaparral in a matrix of grassy/weedy strips of fuelbreak.
2. A huge habitat disruption and loss for the myriad birds, insects and small animals that live within CSS and chaparral.
3. A huge increase in disturbance, wide open to invasive non-natives.