Great Basin Institute, UNR Win 4.9M Forest Research and Restoration Grant

The Great Basin Institute, in collaboration with the University of Nevada, Reno, (UNR) was recently awarded a 4.9 million grant to support forestry research and ecological restoration on the Sequoia National Forest/Giant Sequoia National Monument. Funded by the State of California, the project improves forest health and wildlife habitat by reducing fuels from drought- and beetle-impacted trees on the Hume Lake Ranger District. Approximately 1,000 acres of forest will be treated over the next two years.

The Institute will partner with Dr. Sarah Bisbing, UNR Assistant Professor of Forestry, and Principle Investigator of the research. As part of a larger silvicultural study, data collection will provide the US Forest Service with baseline information to assess ecological restoration measures and changes in forest health over time. “It is important to further our research partnerships on federally-managed forests,” said Bisbing. “There is tremendous need to evaluate forestry practices against lessons learned at the landscape scale. Our data will help that evaluative process.”

Recent drought and beetle infestation has led to extensive tree mortality. An estimated 29 million trees have been lost across the Sierra Nevada, creating extreme fire risk that threatens native species and habitat. “The project helps protect several ancient groves of the Giant Sequoia,” said Jerry Keir, Executive Director of the Institute. “Our work together furthers conservation efforts to preserve some of the oldest living beings on earth.”

The project is funded by the California legislature through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. The program seeks to minimize the loss of forest carbon from large, intense wildfires while promoting carbon sequestration efforts through biomass utilization. The Mule Deer Foundation and the National Wild Turkey Federation will partner to convert tree material to mulch for use in the agricultural industry. “The ambitious scope of this project well reflects the power of applied research and coordinated implementation,” said Dan Smith, Forest Vegetation Program Manager for the Sequoia National Forest/Giant Sequoia National Monument. “As the government continues to reduce staffing, effective partnerships that produce on the ground results is required.”

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