Resource Concepts, Inc.
Celebrating 31 Years 1978-2009
Engineering • Surveying • Resources & Environmental Services
Name of Community: Kingsbury
Date: July, 2004
Project Title: Kingsbury Unit 4 - Thinning and Brush Removal
Vegetative Fuel and Topography: The Kingsbury Unit 4 prescription area is characterized by a second growth stand of Jeffery pine with white fir, sugar pine, and incense cedar below 7,000 feet. Above 7,000 feet, white fir and red fir dominate the stand, especially on north slopes. Brush covers open areas and is an understory (ladder fuel) component in most of the area. The stocking level of trees ranges from 40 square feet of basal area per acre to 400 square feet of basal area per acre with an average of 200 square feet of basal area per acre. Some areas have large accumulations of dead and down fuels, exceeding 80 tons per acre.
Worst Case Scenario / Hazard: The entire treatment area is below the residential and commercial properties at the top of the ridge at Kingsbury. A wind driven fire up any of those drainages would be uncontrollable and likely destroy properties at the top of Kingsbury. The Gondola Fire (2003) exhibited this behavior.
Because of large expanses of fuels below and upwind of the community, this project ranks as #3 priority for the TDFPD.
West side of the ridge at the top of Kingsbury. See Figure 11-12 for details
Given slopes and topography, the treatment in this area must be aggressive to be effective. The area will have to have sufficient treatment to control a direct flame front under extreme fire conditions.
Remove or thin brush understory to lower fire intensity and reduce ladder fuels. Remove dead and down material. Spacing between remaining bushes should be 2-3 times the height of brush and in open areas near trees at least two times the height of the trees. Remove 50% of existing brush in open areas to break up the continuity of brush fields. Remove brush and smaller trees from underneath residual trees and to a distance of 10 feet from the crown of the tree. A brush masticator or “Bull Hog” could be used where slopes are less than 30%. Aerial systems or other steep slope methods should be explored on area greater than 30%. Grind the brush and leave as mulch, or hand cut, pile, and burn. Use of herbicide could reduce sprouting of some species.
Thin forest stand from below, removing smaller trees and leaving larger ones to achieve the desired stocking rate of 80 to 100 square feet of basal area per acre. Where dominant trees are left, prune limbs to 15 feet above the ground and maintain a minimum tree spacing of 10 to 20 feet between crowns. Remove trees heavily infected with dwarf mistletoe or other disease.
*Prescribed fire could be used to reduce the brush understory, and desired where feasible to return fire to the landscape. It should only be applied in areas after thinning and slash pile burning are complete to maintain fire control.
Treatment in this area will help contain human-caused ignitions below the project area, keeping fire from spreading uphill towards a residential development and becoming uncontrollable. This treatment will be the best defense against a fire in the lower Kingsbury neighborhoods moving into the upper neighborhoods. This treatment will be necessary for suppression resources to be effective in stopping such a fire. Implementation of the prescription will reduce the competition among residual trees, increasing forest health and decreasing tree mortality. This will reduce the amount of accumulated dead and down material contributing to the fuel loadings on the forest floor. Thinning will also increase the spacing between residual trees, allowing heat from a ground fire to escape through the canopy, lowering fire intensity and decreasing the ability of the stand to carry a crown fire.
If all of the recommendations in this report are implemented, there is still no guarantee that a devastating wildfire will not occur in the area. However, community awareness and individual attention to fuels management on private property and fuel reduction on state, federal, and county property will help to achieve the highest level of wildfire safety possible.
Area will require a cultural clearance and survey for threatened and endangered species. If there are any protected raptor nest sites then operations may need to be delayed until August - September. This would reduce the amount of time available each year to conduct operations. Known cultural sites should be flagged and mechanized equipment excluded from operation on these sites. Thinning can be achieved by hand or by aerial systems where needed. Closed roads may need permission for temporary opening for treatments.
Environmental compliance measures must be implemented before project initiation. Stream Environment Zones are located in the project area and must be protected, employing appropriate TRPA mitigation measures.
Some threatened and endangered species exist in the Tahoe Basin. Appropriate avoidance and mitigation measures should be employed during project implementation.
Compliance with cultural resource protection may also be necessary. Check with TRPA and the NVSHPO to ensure cultural resources are protected.
Rehabilitate any fire control lines, landings or disturbed areas. Rehabilitation will be minimal if only hand methods are used. Where soil has been disturbed, TRPA rehabilitation measures and Best Management Practices would apply. This could include reseeding or mulching areas if necessary.
Two years if the operating season is cut short to protect raptor nesting sites.
Cable yarding is recommended, however, no costs for cable yarding were available. The costs below are a minimum based on currently accepted methods in the Tahoe Basin.
|Hand cut, pile, and burn||$2,000 / acre X 541 acres|
|Prescribed fire within 5 years||$2,000 / acre X 541 acres|
|Total Cost||$ 2,164,000|
Biomass to be removed is approximately 44 tons per acre.
Project area could be maintained through the use of prescribed fire.
Proposed Prescription Area Kingsbury Unit 4