Image: Part of Dinkey Landscape of southern Sierra Nevada, December 2015. Photo by Margot Wholey. Permission required for reuse. [Click image to enlarge]
In the Sierra Nevada, unprecedented forest mortality has taken place in recent years, particularly focused in the southern Sierra. The southern Sierra has faced mortality rates of over 90% in some areas, including the Dinkey Landscape where some SSCZO sites are located. This mortality and its impacts on the region have instilled a sense of urgency to restore this landscape and to create more resilient forests. However, forest lands are a patchwork of public and private ownership, which can complicate the implementation of restoration plans. Thus, collaborative land management strategies are essential to successfully create landscape resilient to climate change, wildfire, drought, insect infestation, invasive species, and other stressors forests will face in the future.
Five master's students at the University of California Santa Barbara Bren School of Environmental Science and Management are spending this year working with the Sierra Resource Conservation District to help solve this problem. The group will develop management recommendations for private landholders, with particular focus on strategies for incentivizing the recommendations for greater implementation success. Justin Heyerdahl, Chris Hughes, Tess Morgridge, Craig O'Neill, and Jason White began working on this project in the Spring quarter of 2017 and will present their final project outcomes at a public symposium in Spring 2018.
This project was jointly proposed by the Sierra Resource Conservation District with cooperative support from personnel with the Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory, USDA Forest Service High Sierra Ranger District, and the Dinkey Landscape Restoration Project. Bren Professor and SSCZO Co-Principal Investigator Naomi Tague is one of the faculty advisors of the project.
Learn more about the project through the student-designed Saving Sierras website. The project proposal is also available online: Developing a holistic approach to forest restoration in the southern Sierra Nevada in the face of unprecedented forest mortality, proposed by S. Haze, J. Heywood, L. Pile, S. LaPlante, C. Tague, M. Gilmore, and E. Stacy.
Written by Michelle Gilmore