Friday, 21 April 2023

Habitat preservation and public safety improvements begin in the Fall Creek Unit and Henry Cowell State Park

news 2022 02Work started last week to create a shaded fuel break along the Fall Creek Truck Trail in the Fall Creek Unit of Henry Cowell State Park. This approximately 62-acre project will enhance forest health, improve emergency access, and create more favorable conditions during fire suppression activities. Crews will be reducing the amount of fuel load on the ground, strategically thinning understory vegetation, and removing dead and dying trees that pose a safety hazard. A number of the standing and downed dead trees will be retained for wildlife habitat.

“Cutting some smaller trees prevents overcrowding and promotes regional hydrologic health.” explains Tim Hyland, Natural Resource Program Manager for State Parks. “These interventions are likely to increase biodiversity within distinct habitats adjacent to each other thus creating a mosaic that would have existed when fire was more prevalent on the landscape.”

Some of the removed vegetation will be deliberately piled for later burning by State Parks staff. There will be temporary trail closures while work is in progress, and you may experience equipment noise during work hours in other areas of the park. Construction is expected to run through May.

The Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County was awarded a grant from Cal Fire through the California Climate Investments Fund to work directly with California State Parks to plan, permit, and fund construction of the Fall Creek Truck Trail Forest Health Project.

The RCD Forest Health team has three full-time employees focused on forest health and wildfire resiliency projects throughout the County. We work collaboratively with a variety of public and private landowners and managers to plan and develop high priority projects and seek funding for implementation. By improving the overall condition of our numerous wooded landscapes, we restore crucial habitat for protected species, protect water quality, maximize greenhouse gas sequestration, and help protect our shared open spaces and individual backyards.

“We are excited to continue our long partnership with State Parks and CalFire for this project.” says Angie Richman, Forest Health Program specialist with the RCD. “Together we will have completed nearly 80 acres of fuels reduction and forest stand improvements in Henry Cowell, with another 180 acres planned for Nisene Marks in 2024.”

Project Manager Contact Information: Angie Richman at the RCD or Dmitrik Berlanga from State Parks

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