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Julie Crick, San Bernardino National Forest Association, juliecrick@fs.fed.us (Presenter)

 

The San Bernardino National Forest is the most populated and recreated National Forest in the United States. Human habitation within the fire dependent forest disturbed the natural dynamics of the ecosystem, requiring mechanized forest management to take the place of frequent, low-intensity fire in maintaining healthy stocking levels. The last ten years brought devastating insect mortality and destructive wildfires to the San Bernardino National Forest, as well as an influx of federal grant dollars to jumpstart management across the forest resource. Forest Care is one resulting grant funded program, designed to provide forestry education and financial assistance for fuels reduction to private landowners. The goal of the program is to create more fire safe and healthy forested communities while instilling a sense of long-term responsibility for managing small acre forested parcels. Forest Care efforts have resulted in providing forestry education to 5,000 landowners and reimbursement funds to 3,100 landowners for implementing forest management on their property. In operation since 2005, Forest Care can offer innovative advice in the following areas to other agencies or organizations dealing with similar disturbed forest ecosystems: garnering voluntary participation through marketing and partnering with hazard fuels reduction enforcement; coordination with an agency to deliver assistance; collaboration on a grass roots level for program support; the management of privately hired timber operators in implementing project work; and the role of second homeowners and weather in the cyclic nature of the program.