Wildfire Crisis in the Pacific Southwest Region

Confronting the Wildfire Crisis

USDA Forest Service announces additional landscapes to address wildfire risk to infrastructure and communities.

Strategy Website

Since the Forest Service released its 10-year wildfire strategy, the agency and its partners have identified specific areas where fuels treatment projects will begin being implemented.

Where are the investments?

2023 Identified Landscapes in California (Year 2)

Plumas Community Protection (California – 285K acres)

The Plumas Community Protection Projects Landscape focuses on community zones across the Plumas National Forest with very high, high, or moderate wildfire hazard potential. The landscape covers 284,912 acres in five high-risk firesheds. Critical infrastructure includes hydroelectric power plants, drinking water, electrical transmission corridors, State highways, railroads, telecommunications, school districts, and forest products industries. The Feather River provides electricity and fresh water to over 27 million people and 4–5 million acres of farmland. Since catastrophic wildfires have burned 65 percent of the forest in recent years, protecting communities and infrastructure from future wildfires is essential.

Southern California Fireshed Risk Reduction Strategy (California – 4M acres)

The immense values at risk in southern California and the collaborative solutions underway for vegetation management represent investment opportunities to avoid staggering social, economic, and ecological costs. Southern California’s national forests differ from many others across the Western United States. The dominant vegetation type, shrubland, has burned too frequently over the past century. Because of this, the southern California landscape does not need the same types of treatments and maintenance as forested landscapes. This area has the Nation’s highest concentration of high-risk firesheds and is home to 25 million people. There is a large wildland-urban interface throughout the landscape, as well as Tribal lands, watersheds that provide municipal drinking water, and utility infrastructure.

Trinity Forest Health and Fire Resilient Rural Communities (California – 910K acres)

The landscape centers on Trinity County and extends into neighboring Humboldt and Shasta Counties. Trinity County has the highest wildfire risk in California and the State’s second highest wildfire risk to homes; other communities within or adjacent to the landscape are also at high risk from wildfire. The landscape has 693,662 acres of National Forest System lands (76 percent of the total), with the remainder in a mix of private and public ownerships. Major roads include California State Routes 299, 36, and 3, which serve as thoroughfares in an area without interstate highways. Route 299 is the largest connection from the California interior to the Pacific Coast, with Route 36 as a primary alternate route. Route 3 is the main north-south travel corridor through Trinity and Siskiyou Counties, with no viable alternative in the landscape. Numerous county and forest roads also serve as critical ingress/egress routes for local communities.

Klamath River Basin (Oregon, California – 10M acres)

The Forest Service manages about 55 percent of the 10-million-acre Klamath Basin. These lands generate 80 percent of the mean annual surface water supply to the Klamath River. The area provides important habitat for fish listed under the Endangered Species Act. Fish like steelhead, salmon, and suckers are vital to the culture and well-being of Tribes in the Klamath Basin. Following the planned removal of four dams on the Klamath River, Forest Service lands will provide habitat for fish that have been excluded from the upper basin. For several decades, Federal, State, and other partners have warned that the Klamath Basin is in critical need of restoration. Catastrophic wildfires have damaged or degraded ecosystems and communities across five national forests in the Klamath Basin, a trend that is likely to continue as the climate becomes hotter and drier. The effects of a changing climate on hydrology and wildfire activity are degrading fish habitat, including contributing to habitat loss through postfire landslides. Many affected communities are in rural counties with some of the lowest median incomes in their respective States.

Sierra and Elko Fronts (Nevada, California – 3.4M acres)

This Intermountain Region (Region 4) project includes work in California. The project totals 3.4 million acres and encompasses landscapes in two states. These two projects together demonstrate the comprehensive landscape treatment goal of the Wildfire Crisis Strategy.

2022 Initial Landscape Investments included the North Yuba and Stanislaus

Firefighter bent over digging in hotspot with rhino tool

 

Confronting the Wildfire Crisis website