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Mountain Communities Wildfire ReLeaf
 

This spring Mountain Communities Wildfire ReLeaf celebrated their 10th planting season.  Nearly 60 volunteers came together to work side by side with representatives from grant funder, American Forests and American Forests' Corporate partners - Jambu and Amour Vert.  Volunteers traveled from Washington DC, Minnesota, Washington State, Boston, New York and San Francisco along with residents of Orange, Riverside, LA and San Bernardino Counties.  In addition to using volunteers to plant the seedlings we continue to use the Cal Fire Pilot Rock Conservation Crews.

Developed in 2004 after the 2003 Wildfires, Mountain Communities Wildfire ReLeaf is an ongoing program educating private landowners in the value of reforesting the burn areas and areas devastated by the bark beetle infestation.  The ReLeaf program uses seeds previously collected in the San Bernardino Mountain burned areas.  These seedlings are grown at the Southern California Edison Nursery in Auburn, CA and delivered to the sites for direct plantings as weather and climate conditions permit.  Citizen and student volunteers are used on much of the larger burned areas, and professional planting crews in the more hazardous areas.

Since 2004, Releaf Volunteers, partnering with the Mojave Desert Resource Conservation District and CALFIRE (California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection) have planted over 400,000 native seedlings across several hundred acres of land in the San Bernardino Mountains and additional areas located in San Diego and Riverside counties.   

The goal of this project is to educate the public and to create a mixed conifer/hardwood forest with all native species spaced in a fashion that provides for a healthy forest.  Erosion control in these areas will protect the waterways and natural resources as well as the neighboring properties from runoff and sediments.  We continue to plant near running streams that feed to the Mojave Desert. These plantings will also provide different types of food and cover for the variety of wildlife in the forest. Composed of federal, state, regional and local agencies, as well as local stakeholders, this partnership includes, but is not limited to: CALFIRE California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Southern California Edison, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services, American Forests Global ReLeaf, Sempra Energy, Actor – Matthew Modine, Inland Empire Resource Conservation District, Greater San Diego RCD,  Windermere Real Estate, Arrowhead Lake Association, Mountain Rim FSC, Arrowhead Communities FSC,  Big Bear Valley FSC, Running Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, Lake Arrowhead Community Service District, California ReLeaf, Crestline and Lake Arrowhead Municipal Advisory Committee, MAST, US Forest Service, and Mountain-Desert Resource Conservation and Development Council.  A Statement of Cooperation has been completed and endorsed by all partners.

For more information on Mountian Communities Wildfire ReLeaf, visit our website or call Cheryl Nagy, Project Coordinator @ (951) 323-1253.

Mojave RiverMojave River Invasive Weed Control Program
 

The district is continuing with their invasive plant removal program with the focus remaining on re-treatments.  In fall of 2013 we were able to retreat 768 weed acres using our contractor (SWEAT).  RCD staff and Chuck Bell (President) retreated several weed acres in an area encompassing approximately 443 full acres.  The district began control of these invasive plants during 2008 and has currently treated the majority of infested acreage from south of the Mojave Forks Dam to 1/2 mile east of the Barstow Marine Base.  Parcels of Non-consenting landowners and critical erosion Areas were avoided.  To date, a total of 1,780 "weed" acres of a total of 10,000 assessed acres of these invasive species have been removed/controlled. 

With the exception of a few acres located in the Barstow area, we have completed all the actual removal that can be done.  We have had to leave some areas in place due to lack of landowner permissions and/or locations located in sand blow/erosion areas that NRCS has required us to leave in place.  Certain portions of the eastern bank were also left in place to maintain bank stabilization.  Re-treatments will continue for the next 3-5 years to make sure all weeds stay eradicated and any new sprouts are treated before they go to seed.

The majority of the funding for these re-treatments will be provided by the Mojave Water Agency.  Initial funding for removal efforts was provided by USDA NRCS earmark of funds to the Mojave Water Agency, the Mojave River Basin Adjudication's Biological Resources Trust Fund, State Proposition 50, and direct funding from the Mojave Water Agency.

Dust Storm PhotoIllegal Land Scraping/Dust Control
Due to our work area having severe issues with blowing dust, sand an soil erosion from landowners and developers scraping/de-brushing their land of all vegetation, the District created a brochure titled "Effects of Illegal Land Clearing."  Our primary objective was to inform the public about the major sources of particulate matter (fugitive dust or airborne dust).  This brochure was done in coordination with Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District(MDAQMD) and states rules and regulations for land clearing and repercussions should someone decide to resolve their weed issues by completely de-brushing their property.  This brochure promotes a mutual alternative solution (mowing versus stripping the land bare creating dust, erosion and future weed seed germination issues) to both the nuisance and dangers of overgrowth.  Agencies involved in this endeavor are the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District, USDA NRCS, Apple Valley Fire District and various County agencies such as County Fire, Land Use Services and code Enforcement.

Mojave Weed Management Area (MWMA)
The Mojave WMA continues to be coordinated by the district, which organizes and hosts quarterly meetings and oversees ongoing projects and outreach efforts.  The Memorandum of Understanding for the MWMA currently has 23 signatories from agencies such as San Bernardino County Dept. of Agriculture, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, California Dept. of Fish and Game, Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve, to name a few.   

The WMA continues to work with our partners on prevention and control of noxious/invasive weeds on both public and private lands in the Mojave Desert.  A one day workshop was held in December by the UC Cooperative Extension and National Park Service to educate Caltrans and County crews on the best timing options for shoulder work.  This workshop also provided information to help with weed identification. 

Funding for WMAs has been curtailed for the last several years.  Recently California Assembly Bill 2402 was introduced by Assembly Member Joan Buchanan.  this Bill would renew $2.5 million to the state's network of WMAs.  The latest news on this bill is it has passed but the $2.5 million was taken out of the bill. 

Tamarisk photoThe Mojave Weed Management Area's goals are:

* Protect and enhance biodiversity and promote fully functioning ecosystems
* Protect and enhance water resources
* Reduce fire hazard and fire control costs
* Increase profitability and value of cropland and rangeland
* Decrease costs of roadside, park, and waterway maintenance

For more details click here to visit the Mojave Weed Management Area Website.

 

Conservation Field Trials

Through funding assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Mojave Water Agency, the district installed two conservation field trials during fall of 2011.  These sites are located at Victor Valley College and the Lewis Center for Educational Research.  The objective of these field trials are to determine the potential suitability and sustainability of applied revegetation strategies, technologies, and selected plant materials for site restoration/revegetation on riparian saltcedar infestation sites along the Mojave River.  This study will emphasize: a) native species selection and adaptation; b) revegetation species response to seeding and planting techniques, including mechanical techniques for seedbed preparation; and  c) augmentation of the soil moisture regime with polyacrylamide polymer and Zeolite columns.

Assistance To Dairy Owners
One of the districts role as a non-regulatory agency has been to facilitate communication between the NRCS and the dairy owners to develop a collaborative solution to the nitrate concerns raised by the Lahontan Region Water Quality Control Board.  This year the District, in partnership with NRCS, continued to assist dairyman with their Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans(CNMP) being offered through NRCS.  The CNMP can help producers utilize their manure sources available for nutrient application and to reduce nitrate intrusion into surface and/or ground water.  It will also help with the infrastructure and in obtaining management resources available to aid in delivery and monitoring of nutrient and irrigated water applications to the cropland (i.e., flow meters, pipeline, manure spreading, pond liners, etc.).  It is important that all parties understand how Lahontan will determine the effectiveness of nitrate mitigation and what will constitute ultimate dairy compliance. 

Baja Sustainability Plan
The District has been working on an areawide plan for the Baja Sub-Area of the Mojave Watershed with partners NRCS, Mojave Water Agency, US Bureau of Reclamation and local community members.  The critical resource concern is severe aquifer overdraft, which is threatening the viability of agriculture in the area and reducing land values (because of concerns about water availability).  Water use has been ramped down 55% from the original base years ending in 1990.  The Mojave Water Agency and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation joined the partnership as major financial supporters including significant cash and staff support.  The planning process has been underway since September 2013.  The District and NRCS staff have been providing technical advice in all phases of the planning process including community involvement with meetings and detailed survey.  More information on the plan is available at bajaplan.com

Mitigations and Compensations
The District remains actively engaged in providing mitigation/compensation and environmental credits for developers wanting to build in the San Bernardino County portion of the High Desert area.  Mitigation practices include the removal/retreatment of tamarisk, arundo and Russian-olive in the Mojave River as well as trash removal on the designated sites.  To date, the District has 8 active contracts totaling 118 full acres.  Eight contracts have been fulfiled since the start of this program in 2006. 

Korean Outreach Program
A team comprised of NRCS employees, an Earth Team volunteer and the District joined forces to work with Korean farmers in San Bernardino County.  An increasing number of Korean farmers are moving to the High Desert to join existing Koreans that grow jujubes, pistachios, Japanease Ume Plums, and apples among other crops.  In spring 2013, Earth Team Volunteer Henry Eun encouraged Korean elders in Lucerne Valley to host and attend a June outreach workshop.  The program, translated into Korean, included presentations about NRCS, agricultural cooperative marketing, and a Korean potluck.  The event was well attended and launched an ever expanding outreach effort with the Korean farmers.  The NRCS and RCD team is working with the Korean early adopter farmers to develop conservation plans and contracts for their farms.  These efforts helped staff to create outreach products and trainings (micro-irrigation, soil health and plant fertility) to benefit the larger Korean farm community. At the same time, the Korean early adopter farms are eager to help the NRCS & RCD team communicate with fellow Korean farmers to get them involved.  New partners such as the Mojave Water Agency and various San Bernardino County departments are joining the effort.