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Program Spotlight: Basin & Range Forestry

Program Spotlight: Basin & Range Forestry

Today we spotlight GBI’s Basin & Range Forestry program (BRF). This forestry program partners with the USFS to complete projects which include improving forest health, surveying and data collection, large scale stewardship contracting, and post fire recovery projects. We deploy crews to work on forests all throughout the Sierra Nevadas, from Sequoia National Forest and way up north to Klamath National Forest, and draw from many disciplines, including forestry, archaeology, botany, wildlife biology, hydrology, and GIS (geographic information system) mapping. Research associates and AmeriCorps members are given the valuable opportunity to receive mentorship from experienced U. S. Forest Service employees, and their work in the field offers direct training opportunities and fosters professional growth. Unsurprisingly, this experience often provides a great stepping stone for early career professionals to find positions with federal agencies and other land-management organizations.

An excellent example of the kind of service provided by BRF personnel is the fire recovery project being conducted on the French Fire burn scar in Sequoia National Forest. Fire recovery typically requires a variety of expertise. Some crews assess and mark hazard tress, while others conduct surveys to determine the fire impact on a forest’s flora and fauna, as well as changes to hydrological features. The French Fire burned around 26,500 acres of land last summer, affecting habitat for both the spotted owl and Northern goshawk. Working out of the Kern River Ranger District, a GBI crew is evaluating habitat suitability and preforming count surveys. Much of this is done by walking transects and making note of any signs of the birds’ activity, including whitewash, prey remains, and feathers. Acoustic surveys are also performed, during which the crew broadcasts recordings of the birds’ calls in hopes of receiving a response. The work that the crew is doing will pave the way for restoration efforts in the footprint of the French fire. The data collected provide an important insight into how these large wildfires shapes the local ecology of these threatened species.

Learn more about Basin & Range Forestry:

Photos credit: Nicole Dart

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