USDA AWARD OF DOMESTIC COOPERATIVE AGREEMENT
USDA, Forest Service Mendocino National Forest
Colusa County Resource Conservation District
SUMMARY OF COMPLETED PROJECT
Title: Upper Little Stony Inholders Alliance Fuels Treatment Project
Total Funding Awarded– $180,000
Project Term-August 15, 2012-September 30, 2017
Project Location: Colusa County, California
Grantee: Colusa County Resource Conservation District
Cooperator Administrative Contact: Patti Turner-CCRCD Executive Director
Project Manager-Gary Evans (Sub-Contracted by the CCRCD)
The Colusa County Resource Conservation District (CCRCD) project’s goal was to implement fuel treatment practices for willing private property owners adjacent to the Mendocino National Forest, Colusa County, Upper Little Stony Creek Watershed. The CCRCD entered into a Cooperative Agreement with the USDA, Forest Service Mendocino National Forest (No. 12-CA-11050800-018) for the period of August 2012 through September 2017. Funding for the agreement was provided under the Wyden Amendment.
The area targeted for fuels treatment was highly volatile to catastrophic wildfire and recently impacted by the Mill Fire. It was imperative to implement fuel treatment practices as soon possible to lessen the threat of destruction to these private inholdings and the adjacent public lands. The project originally included prescribed burning, shaded fuel breaks and thinning practices to approximately 700 acres of private lands. Treatment was necessary to reduce the tremendous amount of forest ground and ladder fuels that had developed over the last few decades. The last fuel treatment in the area occurred in 2005 facilitated by the Colusa County Resource Conservation District (CCRCD) funded by a grant through the 2002 National Fire Plan-Community Protection Program. This project included pre-and post-treatment tours of the area and other outreach to highlight the partnership between the Forest Service and local landowners and promote the need for ongoing fuels management in and adjacent to our National Forests.
The first step of the project was for the CCRCD to apply and receive Title III funding to complete the CEQA process. Anticipated fuels treatment originally included all the following measures: Understory prescribed burn on approximately 520 acres owned by 14 private Inholder’s. A cooperative agreement was to be executed with the Forest Service to provide burning on the private lands along with their prescribed burns scheduled for the surrounding public lands. It was anticipated that the original project acreage would need to be adjusted if the grant did not include sufficient funding. It was planned for Shaded fuel breaks to be constructed along predominate ridges with follow up maintenance on an area approximately 1 ½ miles long and 200 feet wide equating to approximately 15 acres. Understory Thinning would be applied to 130 acres and increased to 200 if additional funding was not needed elsewhere. Thinning, clearing, chipping and pile burning was to take place on 30 acres for structure protection on 10 properties. Project funding provided for the hiring of local contractors to provide equipment, labor and site supervision for the project. As during the past project, the CCRCD’s Executive Director-Patti Turner served as the Project Administer. Gary Evans was sub-contracted by the CCRCD to serve as the Project Site Manager/Supervisor. Gary Evans is a landowner in the treatment area, past President of the Upper Little Stony Inholders Alliance (ULSIA). Evans served as the Site Supervisor and Planner of the CCRCD’s past projects in the area. The CCRCD anticipated hiring Grindstone Rancheria to provide the thinning and shaded fuel break manual labor. Equipment and operators would be contracted utilizing local sources whenever possible.
During the project, the CCRCD provided outreach to keep the public informed on the project’s progress and promote the partnership between the Forest Service, ULSIA and the CCRCD. At the appropriate time during the CCRCD will facilitate a tour of the project site aimed at ULSIA, Government Officials, Agencies, Media and other stakeholders.
The CCRCD received assurance and included language in agreements acknowledging they were not to be held liable to landowners or third parties for any damage incident to the execution of the fuel reduction practices implemented.
A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF WORK COMPLETED BY TASK AS IDENTIFIED IN THE GRANT’S SCOPE OF WORK IS PROVIDED BELOW.
Task 1-Complete Project Environmental Documents
The CCRCD received Title III funding from Colusa County to cover the completion of the CEQA process.
The Project Manager and CCRCD Staff designed and produced a “Cooperative Fuel Treatment Agreement” between the CCRCD and Upper Little Stony Landowners. The Project Manager and CCRCD Staff agreed the most effective approach to presenting the document to the landowners would be one-on-one verses a group meeting. The agreement was presented to the private landowners in the treatment area. The Agreement detailed specific work planned for the owner’s land. The agreement served as the vehicle for discussion and to obtain landowner support and approval of listed practices to be performed. The document also provided space to describe any special consideration during the treatment process. he documents also provide the planning details necessary to begin the CEQA process and redefined the treatment area of Tasks 2, 3, 4 and 5.
The Project Manager and CCRCD staff completed maps and overlays for the project area (invoiced to the Colusa County Title III funding). The Project Manager worked with Forest Service staff to coordinate archeology reviews of the project site. The Project Manager worked with NRCS staff to develop scopes of work and practice requirements for onsite activities. GIS Maps were utilized to obtain accurate acreage for all project tasks and to prepare and submit Request for Proposals to contract for on the ground work. After GIS mapping of the project sites was completed more accurate acreage for tasks 3, 4, and 5 were noted and those numbers were amended below. Project Manager worked with Forest Service to provide for the archeological element to CEQA.
Task 2 – Understory Prescribed Burn Private Inholders (approx. 578 Acres)
The Project manager met the Forest Service staff to discuss project and project mapping. The Project Manager made site visit with Forest Service for project reconnaissance to aid in planning and completing the draft map for final review. This task was to be implemented after prep treatment was completed and the prescribed burning was in prescription as determined by the Forest Service. The Project Manager met with USFS staff to coordinate archeology reviews for prescribed burn and to discuss the potential cost to the project funds for the prescribed burn on private lands. Prescribed burns were scheduled to take place in the Fall of 2016 or Spring 2017. Project Manager is waiting for exact dates to coordinate with landowners.
Near the termination date for the project the CCRCD received a modified agreement from the Forest Service with additional requirements to include the private inholdings in the Little Stony prescribed burn in the Mendocino National Forest, Grindstone Ranger District. The agreement was fully executed and signed by all parties by June 2nd. A few of the new requirements included the CCRCD hiring a Burn Boss, obtaining new letters of consent from the private landowners and securing permits from CalFire. The CCRCD was able to obtain a fully executed contract with a Burn Boss by June 1, 2017, obtain new signatures from all landowners within the Forest Service’s project boundaries and secure LE-7 and LE-8 permits from CalFire by May 25, 2017. The CCRCD’s Project Manager also met at the project site many times with the Burn Boss, Forest Service Personal and CalFire staff. The burn was planned to take place on June 11, 2017 and continue into early the next week. Unfortunately, the burn was postponed due to weather conditions. These delays resulted in the burn not being able to take place prior to the September 30, 2017 which was the termination date of this agreement.
In the fall 2016 or spring 2017 prescribed burns were scheduled to take place.
Task 3-Shaded Fuel Breaks (Approx. 25 acres)
The Project Manager made several site visits with Forest Service for project reconnaissance to aid in planning and completing the draft map for final review. A RFP was developed for the shaded fuel break portion of the project by the Project Manager with assistance from the CCRCD District Manager. Outreach to potential contractors was completed, bids obtained, and a contractor was selected. During May 2016 five acres of vegetation was cut and piled and twenty acres were cut and looped in May by GTS Forestry Inc. Piling was completed in June on the 20-acre unit.
Task 4A-Thinning for Fuel Reduction (56 acres) Note: structures are included here
The Project Manager made site visit with Forest Service for project reconnaissance to aid in planning and completing the map for final review. The project area was delineated for thinning fuel reduction. Flags were places at the project boundaries. The Request for Proposals (RFP) was developed for the thinning for fuel reduction portion of the project. RFPs were furnished to prospective local bidders for the Fuel Reduction portion of the project. Two proposals were received from qualified bidders. The CCRCD Board of Directors selected the best proposal with the stipulation that the Project Manager can renegotiate the total acers treated at two of the sites to reduce the overall bid amount as recommended by the Project Manager. The Project Manager negotiated with the successful bidder to reduce the acreage on two of the units. Work took place on 5 units between October 6, 2014 and December 31, 2015. All work was completed and inspected by Evans and approved for payment by the CCRCD.
Task 4B-Thinning for Forest Health (86 acres)
The RFP was developed for the thinning for forest health portion of the project by the Project Manager. Assistance was provided by the CCRCD District Manager. The RFP and sent to potential bidders. A successful bidder was selected. Modifications were made to contract to allow for some units to be completed prior to prescribed burn and other units to be completed after prescribed burn is completed. Cut and Loop was completed on 34 acres in May 2016 and on 52 acres in June 2016 by GTS Forestry Inc.
Task 5 –Infrastructure Protection (13 acres)
Project Manager made site visit with Forest Service for project reconnaissance to aid in planning and completing the draft map for final review. Project Manager assisted by the CCRCD Executive Director developed a RFP package to solicit a contractor to complete the infrastructure protection portion of the project. A draft contract was also created to complete the RFP package which will be mailed to local contractors once provisions to complete the archeological portion of the CEQA process is confirmed by the US Forest Service. It is anticipated the work will begin around October 1, 2014 after deer season ends in the area. The Request for Proposals (RFP) was finalized and furnished to prospective local bidders for the Infrastructure Protection portion of the project. Two proposals were received from qualified bidders. The CCRCD Board of Directors selected the most suitable proposal as recommended by the Project Manager. A contract was entered with contractor to complete the Infrastructure Protection work between September 22nd and December 31, 2014.
Infrastructure Protection work was completed, inspected and approved by the Project Manager on December 27, 2014.
Task 6-Project Outreach
The Project Narrative was slightly modified to include definitions of the practices listed as Task 2, 3,4A, 4B and 5 above. These changes made the documents clearer for explaining to the potential project participants. The Project Manager met with landowners from 13 parcels in the treatment area to explain the project and provide the agreement for signature. Many of the agreements were signed by landowners prior to June 30, 2013. The CCRCD needed to wait for the Forest Service to complete the prescribed burn before a project tour could be planned and held. There were concerned that adequate funding would not be available for the tour due to the new requirement of hiring a “Burn Boss”.
At the end of the project the CCRCD was unable to complete this task because the Forest Service did not complete the prescribed burn prior to the end of the agreement. The CCRCD notified the Forest Service that they would be available to assist with a project tour after the prescribed burn is hopefully completed in late 2017.
Task 7-Project Administration
Discussions took place between staff and County Counsel as to the best way avoid any conflict of interest issues related to a Colusa County Supervisor performing the duties of the Project Manager and owning property within the treatment area.
During the project all necessary reports and invoices were completed and submitted in a timely fashion.
During the grant project the CCRCD received approval for their Indirect Cost Negotiation Agreement from the Forest Service as the CCRCD’s cognizant agency. The rate approved by the Forest Service for Indirect Cost for this project was 22%. This rate was effective from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2014 and was reapproved for the period of July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2017. During the entire grant the CCRCD only invoiced 10% indirect cost with the understanding they could invoice at any time for the Indirect Cost owed but not previously invoiced. On the final invoice the CCRCD invoiced an additional 12% overhead on all direct costs that occurred during the periods the 22% rate was in force.
THE FOLLOWING INVOICES WERE SUBMITTED DURING THE DURATION OF THE GRANT FOR ADVANCES OR EXPENSES THAT HAD OCCURRED.
Funding Expended to Date:
Invoice #1$3541.10 (Paid)
Invoice #2 $1,072.07 (Paid)
Invoice #3$474.40 (Paid)
Invoice #4$1134.10 (Paid)
Invoice #5$3006.30 (Paid)
Invoice #6$1064.00 (Paid)
Invoice #7$16,640.00 (ADVANCE, Paid and Expended 1/20/2015)
Invoice #9$9,105.75 (ADVANCE, Paid and Expended 3/17/15)
Invoice #10$1,329.68 (Paid)
Invoice #11$47,929.25 (ADVANCE, Paid and Expended 6/16/15)
Invoice #12$6,501.67 (Paid)
Invoice #13$811.87 (Paid)
Invoice#15 $139.10 (PAID)
Invoice #21$193.29 (PAID)
Total Expended to Date: $180,000