Several partners are seeking $117 million from the federal government to help with recovery from the Rim fire and reduce the chances of another disaster.
The money would go to restoration of the massive burn area, a proposed plant that makes wood products and energy from forest thinnings, and two planned centers that would provide emergency shelter and other services.
The grant would come from the National Disaster Resiliency Competition, a nearly $1 billion program at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Tuolumne County is among 40 finalists and the only one from California. The winners will be announced early next year.
Interested people have until Friday to comment on the Rim fire proposal, a joint effort of the county, the U.S. Forest Service and a few state agencies and nonprofit groups.
The 2013 fire, the largest in the Sierra Nevada’s recorded history, burned at varying intensity across 257,000 acres of the Stanislaus National Forest, Yosemite National Park and private land. It damaged large expanses of wildlife habitat and raised the risk of erosion into reservoirs serving Stanislaus County and part of the Bay Area.
“While the focus of this application is Tuolumne County, it is the state’s hope to develop a model for strengthening forest and watershed health across California and the western United States,” said Maureen Frank, deputy county administrator, in a memo to the Board of Supervisors last month.
Details of the proposal:
▪ $40 million for vegetation removal, reforestation and other recovery in the burn area, which the Stanislaus Forest already has started.
▪ $22 million for the wood products and energy plant, at a site to be determined. It would take in vegetation from the fire zone and from other forest areas that are unnaturrally dense. The plant could produce electricity, liquid fuel, lumber, landscaping material, animal bedding and other products.
$55 million to build a pair of “community resiliency centers” in the areas of Groveland and the town of Tuolumne. They would provide shelter during disasters and bases for education, social services and other activities.
The application says the effort could have benefits that well exceed the costs. It noted that the Rim fire cost $127 million to suppress and had other environmental effects that could reach $736 million.
John Holland: 209-578-2385