Yosemite West Property &
Homeowners, Inc.



2015-2016 CAL FIRE's State Responsibility Area Fire Prevention Fund (SRAFPF) Grant

Grant Status: In progress

Start Date for on-the-ground activities: weather dependent

The project received its CEQA authorization on 12/20/2016, clearing the way for on-the-ground work to start. Read Timeline and Tired of "Waiting for the Grant?".

Yosemite West has been awarded $98,482 through YWPHI's fiscal sponsor, the Yosemite/Sequoia Resource Conservation & Development Council (Y/S RC&D) in North Fork, by CAL FIRE's State Responsibility Area Fire Prevention Fund (SRAFPF) Grant Program.

Grant Number Total Project Cost Funding Awarded Matching Funds Provided % of Match to Total Project Cost Project Name Project Goals
5GS15110 $98,482 $98,482 $0 0% Yosemite West Hazardous Fuel Reduction Project The project goals are:
  • to fell 200 (or more) dead and dying trees;
  • to reduce stem density on 30% (90) of parcels; and
  • to facilitate improvement of defensible space on 25% (40) of (built) parcels with curbside chipping.

Project Background

The hazardous fuel reduction activities are prioritized to address the following:

  1. Severe tree mortality by removal of dead and dying trees

  2. In this area of and elevation in the Central Sierra current tree mortality is between 54% and 72% due to the drought and bark beetle infestation. In Yosemite West, tree mortality inventories show an alarming and continuing increase where tree death is affecting large firs (85%) and pines (15%), the majority of which are greater than 24" dbh. At present there are several hundred large, dead trees near habitable structures. As of 2010 there were no dead trees in Yosemite West; any dead trees up to this date were felled, limbed and chipped using funds from previous grants. As the four-year drought progressed, Yosemite West started experiencing tree mortality. Through a 2015 grant project, Yosemite West felled 140 dead trees (at a total cost of $115/tree). Even though this effort was successful and very cost effective, trees are continuing to die at a rapid pace. At present, there are hundreds more dead and dying trees.
  3. Stem density reduction

  4. The current forest surrounding Yosemite West has up to 1,000 tree stems per acre. In natural conditions, there would be only between 100 and 200 stems per acre, reducing to only 50 large trees per acre. Elective and selective tree removal (thinning) improves the forest health to better withstand wildfire and resist pest attacks. The project identifies between 13 and 15 large trees (i.e., 24" dbh or greater) per acre or 3-4 per parcel (the average parcel size is 0.37 acres) to retain. Other large trees not selected for retention will be considered for selective removal; a preference will be given to the removal of cedar, which is the most prominent understory tree in the project area.
  5. Increase defensible space

  6. The community has achieved almost 75% participation in previous defensible space projects, but every parcel needs to do more and the community needs to increase its continuity of defensible space. Previous fuel reduction projects removed ladder fuels less than 6" dbh, but this project increases that to 8" dbh. New construction is continuing in Yosemite West (45% of the parcels remain unbuilt as of 2015) and sadly most of the new habitable structures do not have adequate defensible space even though they have been issued occupancy permits.

The expected project outcomes are to:

Proposed Action

This project conducts hazardous fuel reduction in the community of Yosemite West by addressing severe tree mortality, reducing stem density, and increasing defensible space around habitable structures.

The project has an 18-month timeline starting in June 2016 and finishing in November 2017.

Project Match

The grant requires 0% match, although it requests volunteer labor that would serve as an in-kind match.

These in-kind contributions from Yosemite West community members will include attendance of project-related community meetings, "cluster captains" organizing permission from property owners, outreach to fellow property owners, and hauling and piling limbs for curbside chipping. YWPHI will notify property owners as these opportunities arise.

How Do We Sign up?

Participation in this project is free; there is no cost to property owners. Even if you have participated in previous fuel reduction projects, we need you take responsibility for your land and participate again as this project builds upon previous work.

To sign up,

Designation by Description for Stem Density

The RPF consulting on the project prepared a one-page letter, called a Designation by Description, which lists the specifications recommended for reducing stem density, i.e., thinning the forest to improve forest health. Please refer to the individual Property Profile we sent to you to determine if your property needs to address stem density. If you need another copy of your Property Profile, email grants@yosemitewest.org. The stem density phase of this project is tentatively scheduled for Fall 2016. We encourage property owners to take initiative and start this work on their own; pile any debris you generate for free curbside chipping.

The project plans to create a demonstration lot that property owners can visit to see what desired stem density looks like.

Tired of "Waiting for the Grant"?

Let's recap what's happened this year: the grant was awarded in January, the grant agreement was signed in February, the environmental compliance process was started in March, property owners gave written permission in April and May, advance funding was transferred to our fiscal sponsor's bank account in May, and here it is almost September and the grant hasn't cut down a single tree. Yes, that's right. CAL FIRE has asked for the community's patience in waiting for the CEQA process for environmental compliance to be completed. It is a legally required process and one over which we have no control.

Now it's time for a reality check: the grant funding is not sufficient to address all or even a majority of the tree mortality in Yosemite West. One of the grant goals is to fell 200 dead trees, yet our February street-view survey counted almost 600 trees. In the last six months, the tree mortality has been increasing (especially in July-August) and without another time-consuming survey, we can only estimate that the number of dead / dying trees has increased into the thousands.

What does this mean for property owners who signed up for the project? It's time for everyone to step up financially to fell and address tree mortality on their property; start with dead trees closest to your structure or structures on adjacent parcels and go from there. If you haven't been up to Yosemite West for a while, we encourage you to come up and see for yourself or ask your property management for an update. A growing number of parcels now have all dead trees; for example, some troublesome spots where entire parcels are dying are on Yosemite Park Way near the junctions with Buck Brush Lane and Black Oak Lane. We'd like to acknowledge all the individual property owners and Scenic Wonders who are already felling trees at their own expense.

Here are some considerations and steps you can take now:

History of 2016 Grant

Date Timeline
May 2015 YWPHI Grant Liaisons inform community about CAL FIRE grant opporunities at Annual Memorial Day Weekend picnic.
December 2015 YWPHI Grant Liaisons start application process, secure support from its fiscal sponsor, the Yosemite/Sequoia Resource Conservation & Development Council, and and request Letters of Support for the project.
January 2016 YWPHI Grant Liaisons and community volunteers donate more than 40 hours of their time to write and submit the project application by the January 7, 2016 submission deadline. CAL FIRE sends letter of congratulations on January 25, 2016 stating the project has been selected for funding.
February 2016 Signed grant agreement with CAL FIRE and submitted further documentation required by March 2016 due date. Conducted street-view survey of tree mortality in Yosemite West; 173 of the 294 parcels (59%) have dead or dying trees (574 total) as highlighted on this tree mortality map. Held meeting with fiscal sponsor to review grant and action plan.
March 2016 Met with CAL FIRE grant manager and fiscal sponsor to review grant award and next steps. Discussed grant requirements with prospective contractors. Hired Registered Professional Forester for the Permitting Process to prepare CEQA Notice of Exemption for CAL FIRE, which should be complete by mid May when on-the-ground work can start. Prepared project documents to be send to property owners.
April 2016 Contacted property owners of record for each of the 294 parcels in Yosemite West, inviting participation as per a customized Property Profile. Met with RPF to review data for CEQA documenation.
May 2016 RPF submitted CEQA documenation to CAL FIRE for their approval, a process that takes approximately 30 days after which CAL FIRE gives permission to start on-the-ground work.
May 2016 Organized "cluster captains" (almost a dozen of your neighbors) who volunteered to call, email, and speak in person to other property owners to get them to sign up - an effective strategy. The sign-up phase closed. The YWPHI Grant Liaison attended the annual Memorial Day weekend picnic / meeting and presented an update of the project and answered questions from property owners.
June 2016 Received from the RPF and posted the Designation by Description to this web page. Requested encorachments permits from Mariposa County Public Works Director to conduct fuel reduction activities on the County-owned parcel on Azalea Lane with the community water tanks and along the roadside easements. Followed up with RPF and CAL FIRE about the status of CEQA; authorization is pending and there is not yet an estimated start date for on-the-ground work. The project will start flagging and tagging dead / dying trees.
July 2016 Continued to follow up with RPF and CAL FIRE about the status of CEQA; authorization is pending and there is not yet an estimated start date for on-the-ground work. CAL FIRE MMU approved CEQA documents and sent them to State (Sacramento) for approval the third week in July.
August 2016 Continued to follow up with RPF and CAL FIRE about the status of CEQA; authorization is pending and there is not yet an estimated start date for on-the-ground work. CAL FIRE MMU is following through asking for a status update from State (Sacramento). When State (Sacramento) signs off, the project will be listed on CEQAnet, a searchable environmental database of the [California] State Clearinghouse within the Office of Planning & Research. CEQAnet contains key information from all California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) documents submitted to the State Clearinghouse for state review.
November 2016 Continued to follow up with RPF and CAL FIRE about the status of CEQA; authorization is pending and there is not yet an estimated start date for on-the-ground work. CAL FIRE informed the RPF on November 21, 2016 that it required a "minor edit" to the CEQA documents, which have already been with CAL FIRE for 203 days (and counting). The edit was resubmitted by the RPF to CAL FIRE on November 23, 2016.
December 2016 The Notice of Exemption (for CEQA) was issued on December 20, 2016; a process that took CAL FIRE 229 days to complete. Unfortunately winter weather conditions will prohibit us from starting immediate on-the-ground work. We will monitor weather conditions throughout the winter and start work whenever conditions permit.

FAQs for CAL FIRE's State Responsibility Area Fire Prevention Fund (SRAFPF) Grants

Questions?

Please email grants@yosemitewest.org with any questions you may have.

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Copyright text © Yosemite West Property & Homeowners, Inc. 2003-2017. Copyright photographs © John Mock 2004-2017.
All rights reserved. Unauthorized redistribution of this document is prohibited. Updated March 14, 2017.