In September of 2007, the Moonlight fire burned approximately 65,000 acres within the Plumas National Forest (PNF). Twelve years later the Walker fire burned 55,000 acres, and in 2021 the Dixie fire swept through, both within the same fire footprint. The Feather River RCD, along with the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, One Tree Planted, and Plumas National Forest are continuing reforestation work in both the Moonlight and Walker fire footprints.
After devastating fires such as Moonlight, Walker, and Dixie, burned areas tend to repopulate with shrubs such as Ceanothus (deerbrush, snowbrush, mahala mat) and Arctostaphylos (various manzanitas). The goal of our reforestation project is to establish a cohort of conifer species that would otherwise be unable to regenerate in a burned landscape without mature adult seed trees.
While reforestation is the main focus of the Moonlight Area Restoration, Feather River RCD engages in other types of restoration work in these areas. In the 2020 field season, RCD staff began an aspen restoration project that includes thinning competing conifers from aspen stands in order to mimic natural regimes and promote aspen growth and regeneration. RCD staff also assisted the Plumas National Forest with collecting Sugar Pine cones for the USFS nursery in Placerville, CA, and in 2022 we will be experimenting with ungulate grazing as means to clear competing brush.
This project is funded through a Good Neighbor Authority with the USFS and the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, as well as grant funding from One Tree Planting. The project will continue until November 2023.