Excel as a High-Performing Agency

Forest readies collaborative project for implementation

Liz Berger and Leaf Hillman shake hands.
Acting Forest Supervisor Liz Berger and Leaf Hillman, the director for the Karuk Tribe’s Department of Natural Resources, signed the decision notice. Photo courtesy Mary Huffman, US Fire Learning Network.


—Surrounded by members of the Western Klamath Restoration Partnership, acting Six Rivers National Forest Supervisor Liz Berger signed a decision ensuring the collaborative’s vision of bringing “good fire” back to the Klamath Mountains.

Focusing on reducing heavy fuels buildup around the communities of Orleans, Somes Bar and Ti Bar, and on creating defensible space around private property, the highly anticipated Somes Bar Integrated Fire Management Project, or Somes Bar Project, is the first project developed by the collaborative on Six Rivers. Rooted in the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy, the project is set to demonstrate how prescribed fire restores and maintains resilient ecosystems, communities and economies, and provide for safe and effective management of both planned and unplanned fires.

A broader vision of the Somes Bar Project is to restore cultural burning practices for those living along the Klamath River, its tributaries and other ancestral landscapes. The project falls within Karuk Aboriginal Territory. It will allow for the use of traditional ecological knowledge fire and blend that with emerging restorative fire practices at the landscape scale. This method will ensure resiliency of culturally important Karuk focal species and traditions.

“It took all of us working together to make this project a reality,” said Nolan Colegrove, district ranger for the SRNF’s Lower Trinity, Orleans and Ukonom ranger districts.

In addition to the forest, members of the collaborative include the Karuk Tribe, Mid Klamath Watershed Council, Klamath National Forest, area fire safe councils, nongovernmental organizations and community-based stakeholders. The collaborative organized in 2013 to look at ways to restore landscape resiliency to the forests of the Western Klamath Mountains.

In addition to funding already secured for the project, the watershed council received a $5 million grant from CAL FIRE’s California Climate Investments Forest Health Grant Program to implement fuels reduction and forest health activities across public and private lands in the Klamath Mountains, including within the Somes Bar Project area.

The Somes Bar Project decision notice, finding of no significant impact and environmental assessment are available on the Six Rivers National Forest website.

Western Klamath Restoration Partnership members and acting Forest Supervisor Liz Berger at the signing of a decision notice.
Western Klamath Restoration Partnership members surround acting Six Rivers National Forest Supervisor Elizabeth “Liz” Berger for the signing of the Somes Bar Integrated Fire Management Project Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact. Photo courtesy Mary Huffman, US Fire Learning Network.