Lassen Volcanic National Park will take advantage of low snow levels and begin work on the Northwest Gateway Forest Restoration Project. This fuel reduction project is located in the northwest corner of Lassen Volcanic National Park where forest conditions present a severe risk of high intensity fire. In partnership with Lassen National Forest, a onetime entry with mechanized equipment will be used to reduce live understory and ladder fuels in this popular recreation area. These activities will specifically focus on the reduction of excessive understory tree densities and surface fuel loads previously managed with prescribed fire.
“One hundred years of fire exclusion in Lassen Volcanic National Park has resulted in overly dense and unhealthy forest areas,” stated Park Superintendent Darlene M. Koontz. “In the absence of surface fires, shade-tolerant white fir have formed dense thickets crowding out old growth pines, aspen stands, and understory shrub and grass vegetation. The process will reduce old-growth mortality rates, promote a more varied stand structure, and restore and protect wildlife habitat.”
The Northwest Gateway Forest Restoration project is composed of six areas with a total treatment area of up to 2145 acres. In early February weather permitting, mechanical thinning will begin in two of the six areas totaling approximately 500 acres. Should the park receive a significant amount of snow, the project may be postponed for the season.
The overall restoration goal of this treatment strategy is to reestablish a fire adapted forest landscape by restoring a more resilient, diverse forest structure. Once the forest structures and/or surface fuel profiles have been restored, natural and prescribed fire applications can be utilized to further restore, enhance and maintain the system without further use of mechanical equipment.
There are no trail or facility closures associated with this project; however visitors in the Manzanita Lake area may see and hear the equipment used for mechanical thinning. For more information, please contact the park at (530) 595-6102 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or visit www.nps.gov/lavo/parkmgmt/nwg.htm.
-from press release