Implementing forest restoration and wildfire risk reduction at a landscape scale and in a timely manner requires efficiency and effectiveness throughout the project process. Given the urgency to implement pre- and post-fire projects in a rapidly changing landscape, SE Group is uniquely qualified to help public lands agencies and communities that border these lands address these concerns.
Below is a list of SE Group’s Forest Health and Fire Managment services that meet our clients’ needs followed by a set of featured projects.
Our services support a multitude of Forest Health and Fire Management project types, including but not limited to:
Project 1: Town of Frisco Backyard Fuels and Recreation Project
The Frisco Backyard Fuels and Recreation Project is a 2,200-acre project located in a heavily visited area of National Forest Service lands located adjacent to the Town of Frisco, Colorado. The project area is also known to locals as the Backyard, which encompasses the land located generally south and east of Frisco and west and north of Breckenridge, comprising Mount Royal, Miners Creek, Rainbow Lake, Ophir Mountain, and Gold Hill. These are primarily National Forest System (NFS) lands that serve as an important community recreation resource, providing a natural forested backcountry character near Frisco.
Two concurrent projects were proposed by the Town of Frisco to improve the trail network and reduce wildfire risk; rather than considering these proposals separately, the White River National Forest has taken an innovative approach by combining them into a single action, integrating recreation and fuels reduction treatment designs. Innovative tools, such as LiDAR and high resolution orthophotography, were leveraged to help refine fuels treatments, identify the extent of the social trail network with accuracy, and aid resource analysis across specialties.
Project StoryMap: Town of Frisco Backyard Fuels and Recreation Project (arcgis.com)
Project 2: Partnership with Blue Forest
Since 2022, SE Group has been supporting Blue Forest, Chelan County, and the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest’s efforts to develop a Forest Resilience Bond project in Central Washington. A pilot project, Upper Wenatchee I FRB, would involve an estimated 5,000 acres of fuels reduction and accompanying aquatic restoration activities on a 15,000 acre footprint. The project will accelerate wildfire risk reduction in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) around the communities of Lake Wenatchee and Plain, located just north of Leavenworth, Washington.
“SE Group’s extensive experience in environmental planning has helped bring together many partners to develop an implementation plan that is already being used to get ready for work next field season,” Kim Seipp, Managing Director of Science and Research, explains. “For this project, the NEPA-permitted landscape is 75,000 acres, but the Forest and partners wanted to identify a footprint and scope of work focused on the WUI and community and infrastructure protection. SE Group helped us move from concept to an actual work plan.”
For more information: Blue Forest Newsletter December 2023
Project 3: Tahoe National Forest – North Yuba Forest Restoration and Fuels Treatment (EIS)
SE Group was selected in partnership with Ascent Environmental to provide National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) support for the Tahoe National Forest (TNF). The TNF, as part of the North Yuba Forest Partnership, proposed forest restoration and fuels treatments within a 275,000-acre area of the North Yuba River watershed. Key objectives of the project included improving and restoring forest health and resilience, reducing the risk of high-severity wildfire; protecting and securing water supplies; and protecting communities from the effects of high-severity wildfire.
A key innovative element of the NEPA process included the use of staged decision-making. This approach resulted in approval of the Proposed Action for certain project area-wide actions such as the Forest Plan amendment and invasive species management, as well as stand treatments only in a specific subarea where fieldwork was complete.
Project 4: White River National Forest – Fuels Treatments at Ruby Ranch
SE Group was contracted by Willow Brook Metropolitan District (WBMD) to assist WBMD and the White River National Forest (WRNF) Dillon Ranger District with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance for 33 acres of fuels treatments on National Forest System lands. The area proposed for treatment is located near Silverthorne, Colorado, adjacent to WBMD’s Ruby Ranch Subdivision, and entirely within the Eagles Nest Wilderness.
Aided by a century of fire suppression and human caused climate change, the mountain pine beetle (MPB) epidemic has resulted in high mortality of lodgepole pine on NFS lands in the wilderness area adjacent to Ruby Ranch; the forest in this area now primarily consists of dead and downed lodgepole pine timber stands. The subdivision-wilderness property boundary extends for 1.5 miles. This is one of the only places where a developed subdivision shares a boundary with a wilderness area on the Dillon Ranger District. The WRNF has already completed fuels reduction projects on adjacent NFS land outside of Wilderness to the north and south of the Ruby Ranch neighborhood.
There has been interest in other regions of the Forest Service to see whether this analysis approach was successful and can be applied elsewhere in the country to reduce ‘green tape’ and allow projects intended to protect life and property to be analyzed at a quicker pace.
Contact: Ashley Smith