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Crisis to Opportunity: Sierra Nevada Tree Mortality

Year Awarded: Fiscal Year 2018

USDA Funding: $10,000,000

Partner-Contributed Funding: $283,536,412

Project Timeline: 2018 – 2023

Conservation Program Funded: Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

California Counties: Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Fresno, Kern, Mariposa, Madera, Placer, Tulare, and Tuolumne counties

Lead Partner: The California Association of Resource Conservation Districts (CARCD) is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to serving as a strong advocate, technical resource, and partner to the state’s 98 Resource Conservation Districts so that they can be Relevant, Excellent, and Visible “go-to” hubs for conservation in their communities. We build the network and local impact of RCDs in California, strengthening locally-led conservation and stewardship of natural and agricultural resources. Voluntary, locally-led conservation is a critical strategy for meeting today’s most pressing environmental challenges. Whether responding to crises or planning for a sustainable future, RCDs work hand-in-hand with their neighbors and partners to deliver innovative conservation solutions that meet those challenges head on.

Collaborating Partners:

  • Cal FIRE
  • Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E)
  • California Office of Emergency Services
  • Sierra Nevada Conservancy
  • Local Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs)

Project Summary

There is an unprecedented tree mortality crisis in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California due to the impact of prolonged drought and resulting bark beetle infestation. We will address the issue by removing dead trees from the high mortality area and reforesting where appropriate. The project will help restore forest and watershed health on non-industrial private forestlands by improving soil health, habitat, and air quality and helping to prevent unprecedented catastrophic wildfire that would severely impact all of the national resource priorities. Priority areas include those with the highest tree mortality, areas designated as High Hazard Zones (HHZ), areas designated as High and Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones (FHSZ), and areas burned within the last ten years. EQIP contracts and technical assistance will be used to remove dead and dying trees and reforest where appropriate. This project is innovative because of the scale of this problem and the scale of the response. We are building an extensive partnership that will help us manage our forests into the future. Because of the extensive partnership and the need for funding for private landowners is the highest priority of that partnership, there is considerable support for the project. Over 40 local, state and federal entities will participate (21 of which are represented here) pledging over $280 million in match. The partnership will help provide a long term solution by creating the necessary network to solve future problems, educating citizens and agencies about proper forest management and building an awareness of the need for resources for forest management into the future. At the very least, we will have an extensive, coordinated set of partners ready to address the next challenge. The partnership will augment the NRCS's abilities to meet their resource goals by increasing technical capacity, resources, and RPFs. 


NRCS Contact


Nikki Smith, Resource Conservationist

Fresno Area Office
Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Fresno, Kern, Mariposa, Madera, Placer, Tulare, and Tuolumne counties
Phone: (559) 490-5138


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