Los Padres National Forest “Decision Memo” Suggests Thinning Cuddy Valley Trees by 80%

  • Cuddy Valley is an idyllic valley nestled between forested hillsides. A

    Cuddy Valley is an idyllic valley nestled between forested hillsides. A "Decision Memo" from the Los Padres National Forest appears to suggest making massive changes in the forest's density—perhaps by as much as 80%.

Cuddy Valley, CA (Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 at 6:40 p.m.)—The Mountain Enterprise has asked the Los Padres National Forest for clarification after a Decision Memo was released Wednesday afternoon, November 28 that seems to imply a drastic reduction of tree stands in Cuddy Valley—

Los Padres issues Decision Memo for Cuddy Valley project
GOLETA, Calif.— The Mt. Pinos Ranger District has completed environmental review of the Cuddy Valley Forest Health and Fuels Reduction project. Los Padres National Forest Supervisor Kevin Elliott signed the Decision Memo on Nov. 13.

The Cuddy Valley project addresses the impact of widespread tree mortality caused by the Ips bark beetle across 1,200 acres located within Cuddy Valley. This project was developed in collaboration with local individuals and community groups to establish priorities, cooperate on activities, and increase public awareness.

Historically mixed conifer stands in Southern California had approximately 93 trees per acre. Recent stand exams show that within the project area the average mixed conifer stand has 480 trees per acre. By reducing surface and ladder fuels, we can reduce fire intensities and to make these stands more resilient to drought, disease and wildfire. Removing standing and down fuels allows us to decrease fuel loading and increase our firefighters’ ability to safely and efficiently suppress fire.

“This project seeks to improve forest health by reducing overstocking so that these areas more closely resemble historic levels and species mix,” Elliott said. “Our aim is to make these areas more resilient to the effects of fire, insect and disease infestation, and the changing climate so that these areas have a better shot at surviving the next multi-year drought.”

A combination of mechanical treatments, mastication of brush and smaller trees, and hand treatments will be used to reduce the stocking in selected stands and to change the structure of live and dead material in treated stands. Project design features applied during implementation will ensure endangered and sensitive species are not imperiled by the project.
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This is part of the November 30, 2018 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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