Our RCD is proud to have helped the City of Chico develop its first-ever citywide Vegetative Fuels Management Plan. The Plan includes several priority projects to reverse the negative ecological effects of long-term fire suppression, restore natural and cultural fire to our parklands, raise sightlines and increase user safety, and reduce ladder fuels that could threaten parkside homes. It also sets standards for what Chico's parklands should look like long into the future.
By preparing a programmatic EIR (PEIR) to authorize a whole program of work at once, BCRCD and the City reduced the planning delays for future projects from months to weeks or even days. The VFMP PEIR was certified, and the VFMP formally adopted, by Chico's City Council on April 6, 2021. Just weeks later, the Chico Fire Department approached the City about implementing one of the key projects -- a 100-acre star thistle reduction prescribed burn. With the PEIR already in place, the City was able to authorize the burn under CEQA by filling out a simple checklist and having a couple quick surveys done. When a good burn window arrived on May 17, the City fire department and BCCER crews were in place to light this meadow off -- using burn plans already developed through the PEIR grant by Deer Creek Resources.
Developing an EIR may not be the most exciting part of conservation work to many, but in this case, it was one important part of the teamwork that finally got good fire back on the ground.
The rest of the VFMP/PEIR team included Deer Creek GIS, Dempsey Vegetation Management, CSU-Chico Reserves land stewards and forester, and many knowledgeable community experts who helped to shape the projects. This work was funded by a CAL FIRE Community Wildfire Protection grant.