Californians Line Up to submit forest management proposals to help Mitigate Climate Change And Improve Forest Health
Back in June of this year, Governor Brown signed the State Budget that allocated $42 million of the new funds, generated by the landmark climate change legislation, AB 32, to forestry projects that are designed to reduce greenhouse gasses and meet the goals of legislation. The funds go directly to CAL FIRE’s Fuel Reduction and the California Forest Improvement Program (CFIP). These two CAL FIRE programs will be used to allocate the funding to eager applicants with interest of implementing on the ground forestry projects.
Forests are a key player in the climate change game. By pulling in the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted in the air, trees then store the carbon in their wood. In fact, wood is 50% carbon. With more smart, meaningful forest management projects throughout the state, healthier forests can sequester even more carbon in the long run and be resistant to insects, disease and wildfire, which release carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
While it is well known forests sequester carbon, some are skeptical that forest projects can deliver on the promise of reduction of carbon emissions. Many organizations working with CAL FIRE to apply for the grant money have developed many different projects that aim to do just that.
According to AB 32, all projects shall be designed to meet greenhouse gas emission reduction objectives including stabilizing or increasing carbon sequestration in trees, reducing wildfire hazards, utilization of biomass to offset use of fossil fuels, and storage of carbon in long-lived solid wood materials. Mechanical thinning of overly dense stands of trees and brush will lead to a reduction in fire hazard, improve tree growth thereby increasing carbon sequestration, and increase forest resilience.
Interest in the grant program has been tremendous and CAL FIRE has just completed the review of all the concept proposals. CAL FIRE created a concept paper phase where applicants can submit their project ideas to CAL FIRE for review before the actual application for funding is submitted. This phase gives applicants a chance to better understand the greenhouse gas emission reduction objectives and measures needed to quantify carbon benefits.
Over $200 million in projects were submitted in the concept paper phase. Unfortunately, that is much higher than the $42 million allocated to CAL FIRE for this program.
“Judging by the number of concept papers we received for the grants, it’s clear there are quite a few quality project proposals across the many programs the grants are designed to fund,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE director. “I have no doubt that this process will yield projects that will deliver real, on the ground results.”
According to CAL FIRE, qualified projects should reduce potential greenhouse gas emission from wildfires, increase forest carbon stocks through improved forest health and forest resilience thereby reducing the threat of insects, disease, and wildfire. Application filing period begins in January of next year. CAL FIRE will then review and approve the applications by spring of 2015.
Learn more about CAL FIRE grants at http://www.fire.ca.gov/grants/grants.php .