The way it works

  • Map of the national forests of the Sierra Nevada Framework

    Diane Sylvain

The final Sierra Nevada Framework is the guiding planning document for 11 million acres of national forest lands in California. It covers the Humboldt-Toiyabe, Modoc, Lassen, Plumas, Tahoe, Eldorado, Stanislaus, Sierra, Inyo and Sequoia national forests, and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. In a nutshell, the plan will:

  • Reduce the total allowed timber harvest to 191 million board-feet for the first five years, and to 108 mbf for the next five years.
  • Set aside approximately 40 percent of the National Forest System in the Sierras as "Old Forest Emphasis Areas." Within these areas, managers will not use mechanical treatment (thinning), by and large, but will focus on reintroducing fire as an ecosystem process. These areas will be protected from catastrophic wildfire by mechanically thinned areas of forest called strategically placed area treatment sites (SPLATS).
  • Set aside Protective Activity Centers for the nesting/breeding areas of sensitive species. For the California spotted owl, PACs will cover 300 acres surrounding each nest plus a home range of up to an additional 2,100 acres.
  • Protect all trees larger than 30-inch diameter at breast height. In east-side pine forests, no trees larger than 24" DBH will be cut, and in west-side, low-elevation hardwood forests, no trees larger than 12" DBH will be cut.
  • Conduct intensive fuel treatments in the Urban-Wildland Intermix - a zone of 1.5 miles from structures. The most intense efforts will be in the "defense" zone, a quarter mile from structures.
  • Establish Riparian Conservation Areas (RCAs) around streams and lakes and Critical Aquatic Refuges (CARs) around habitats for sensitive species. Meadows will be restored through changes in grazing utilization standards. Meadows with willow flycatchers will be off-limits to grazing.
  • Allow managers to vary from the standards and guidelines to do scientific hypothesis testing under adaptive management guidelines.
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