Two upcoming events will look at the future of Tuolumne County’s resources, including the huge area charred by the Rim fire last year.
The 14th annual Natural Resources Summit, taking place Friday at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds, will deal with water supplies in the county, in other parts of the Sierra Nevada, and statewide.
On Oct. 16, the Columbia College Foundation will hold a forum on the fire, which at about 257,000 acres is the largest in the recorded history of the Sierra.
Friday’s event is sponsored by the Tuolumne County Alliance for Resources and Environment, which advocates for logging, ranching and other resource uses.
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The speakers include two Republican lawmakers – Rep. Tom McClintock and state Assemblyman Frank Bigelow – whose vast Sierra districts include the county. Also on the dais are UC Merced engineering professor Roger Bales, who heads the Sierra Nevada Research Institute, and Kirk MacKenzie, founder of Defend Rural America in Siskiyou County. The latter has been an outspoken critic of government regulations on resource use.
Others speakers, including representatives of the U.S. Forest Service, have not been confirmed.
The Rim fire forum, at Sonora High School, will deal with timber, wildlife and other resources that were damaged, as well as the recovery ahead. It will be moderated by Columbia College natural resources professor Tom Hofstra.
Two of the speakers – industry forester Mike Albrecht and environmental leader John Buckley – are part of a coalition that agreed on how much salvage logging should follow the fire. Also confirmed are Nathan Graveline, a biologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife; Mary Moore, a hydrologist with the Forest Service; Matt McNicol, a rangeland specialist with the federal Natural Resource Conservation Service; and Tim Tate, division manager for Sierra Pacific Industries, which lost extensive timber to the fire.
“We’ve heard a lot about policy setting and political posturing,” said Stephanie Suess, president of the foundation, in a news release. “This is an opportunity for the community to hear from folks who are playing an active, on-the-ground role in the recovery efforts and to learn more about what they see as being the key issues in the years to come.”
The forum is part of the foundation’s community lecture series. Both it and Friday’s summit are free to the public.