Success Stories - Landowner Profile Robert Lammers - Benefits of Conservati
Landowner Profile: Robert Lammers - Benefits of Conservation Planning
"Between the work that I’ve done with NRCS through EQIP and the work that’s ongoing with the carbon sequestration project, I’ve got it all reforested." - Robert Lammers, Shasta County Rancher
Robert Lammers with Soil Conservationist Melinda Graves, from the NRCS Service Center in Redding. Roseburg trees are shown in the background.
Robert Lammers owns and operates a 280-acre ranch near Round Mountain in Shasta County, a ranch that has been in his family since the 1930s. Until about 20 years ago the ranch consisted of about 100 acres of meadow surrounded by 180 acres of forest. But in 1992, one of the worst fires in California history devastated central Shasta County. The eight-day Fountain Fire burned 300 homes and about 64,000 acres of dense forest and brush, including the trees on Lammers Ranch. Today, the region is still recovering from the fires devastation.
"Before the fire, most of this ranch was forest with big trees," said Lammers. "The forested land was too high to grow grass because there wasn’t enough water, but there was enough water to grow trees. There wasn’t anything green left there after the fire.”
Timber companies affected by the fire replanted within five years and now have healthy 10- to 20-foot conifers and some re-sprouted oaks. Most non-industrial landowners did not replant and now have mostly brush and re-sprouted oaks.
Lammers’ ranch is adjacent to forestland owned and operated by Roseburg Forest Products Co., a large timber operation. After the fire, the Rosebug company replanted its trees right away. Lammers wanted his forest to return too, but it was expensive to replant. He thought that the trees would come back naturally. And in certain areas they did because the seeds were in the ground where the fire was not hot enough to kill all of them. But in most areas hardly any trees grew back. "I thought the trees would come back by natural means," said Lammers. "But the brush came first. Then we started thinking of planting trees, after the brush had come in."
Lammers eventually did replant trees, the first about three years after Roseburg had replanted. But by then, brush competition was hindering growth, and he had limited success. A comparison of the replanted trees on the adjacent Roseburg property with these stunted trees on Lammers’ property provides a dramatic contrast.
Mixed conifers planted on 53 acres in 2009 as part of a terrestrial carbon sequestration study in partnership with WSRCD and Winrock International.
Lammers’ first plantings were done in a limited area, about 50 acres, through the Forestry Incentives Program (FIP) in 1996. Under that plan, rows of brush were left between the trees. Lammers soon found that the brush came back and affected tree growth.
"Roseburg did the right thing," said Lammers. "We didn’t control the brush, didn’t spray, and now when compared with the Roseburg trees, side by side on similar soil, their trees are much taller than ours."
After the disappointing outcome from the first replanting effort, Lammers worked with NRCS to develop a comprehensive plan to accomplish his goals and replanted again with cost-share assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The plan included brush clearing, tree planting, and forest stand improvement on 46 acres and brush management on 30 acres. This work was done in phases from 2005 to 2009.
"I would not have done this work without help from EQIP," Lammers said. "I could have done it right after the fire if I had known that nature wouldn’t bring back the trees. But now it would not be affordable."
Lammers is also participating in a carbon sequestration project with Western Shasta Resource Conservation District (WSRCD). Through the district’s Climate Stewardship Program he was able to get an additional 53 acres replanted with native conifer and oak woodland species.
As part of the West Coast Regional Carbon Partnership (WESTCARB) WSRCD is working in partnership with Winrock International in a study involving carbon sequestration. Shasta County has been identified as an area capable of cost-effective carbon sequestration, and WSRCD is actively involved in validating the science behind the idea. The district was looking for landowners within areas determined as having the best opportunity for afforestation based on topography, soils and land type.
"Typical project sites under the program include areas that have been previously burned by catastrophic fire, and have not been reforested naturally or otherwise due to brush com-petition," said NRCS District Conservationist Bob Bailey. "So we informed the district that Lammers would be a good candidate," Bailey added.
"Between the work that I’ve done with NRCS through EQIP and the work that’s ongoing with the carbon sequestration project, I’ve got it all reforested," said Lammers.
Lammers acknowledged that he will have to leave about 40 acres on the hills in their current condition because they are too rocky. "The only time I could have done those areas is right after the fire, in a few places that were clear, where the planters could have gotten the trees in the ground. Now there is too much brush. But those areas have brush and oak mixed together, and it will be good habitat for wildlife."
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