January 15, 2004

Cameron Park Unit Fuels Management Project
2003 Year-End Report

During the winter and spring of 2003, Phase I of the Cameron Park Fuels Reduction Project was carried out on the Pine Hill Preserve near Cameron Park, California. Work was completed by California Department of Corrections hand crews from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's Growlersburg Conservation Camp. During the vegetation cutting operations, the sixteen-person crews worked in teams of four or five, with either three or four chainsaws operating simultaneously. One crew carried out vegetation cutting on the project for a total of twenty-seven days during January and February of 2003. Two crews were used in the burning operation for three days in May 2003.

The crews created a fuel break eighty feet wide behind most homes adjacent to the project. Standing fuels were reduced to brush piles on more than twenty acres of Pine Hill Preserve lands during the vegetation cutting operation. Depending on the density of protected plants and volume of fuels in a given area, eighty to one hundred approximately 10'x10' piles per acre were produced in this vegetation removal. Of the treated area, about two-and-a-half acres had their piles burned in May of 2003. About one third of the piles produced in this last area were moved prior to burning due to their proximity to protected species or retained standing trees.

The two federally listed species within the project

were Ceanothus roderickii and Senecio layneae. Crews were given briefings on the listed and rare species they would encounter at the beginning of the project and also when new members were added to the crews. Crews were shown the species on the ground and crew leaders were given booklets containing descriptions of the federally listed plants and photographs of these plants taken in winter. Efforts were made to establish "safe" travel corridors for workers so that damage due to trampling could be minimized. To reduce the likelihood of accidentally cutting plants hidden in the brush, flagging at ground level was attached or placed near protected plants ahead of the crew. Pile locations were chosen to exclude protected plants entirely wherever possible. Some piles in areas with dense populations of protected species were placed adjacent to these plants. Such piles were marked to be moved later, prior to burning.

Of the total number of listed plants within the project boundary, we estimate that less than five percent experienced impacts directly related to the vegetation removal, piling, and pile burning operations. We estimate that less than one percent of the total number of listed plants received impacts that were fatal. As the project continues, monitoring of impacted plants will be ongoing.

Work Continues in 2004

With the start of the 2004 calendar year, cutting operations continue behind homes north of Meder Road and burning operations resumed in March. Plans exist to construct similar fuel breaks along several property boundaries in the Cameron Park Unit of the Preserve over the next few years.

These projects will offer the Pine Hill Preserve's neighbors an added measure of fire protection while continuing to provide protection to the federally listed species.