Funds freed for fuel break projects

Bowman included among 10 sites in Placer County
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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It?s back-to-work time for 10 Auburn environmental projects from Auburn to Tahoe halted by California?s budget crisis. The Sierra Nevada Conservancy received the go-ahead last week to restart projects with $9.1 million in newly freed bond money ? including 10 in Placer County that will now receive $2 million. The cash-flow from voter-approved Proposition 84 was cut off Dec. 17 when the state ? reacting to a cash-flow crisis ? halted thousands of projects supported by general-obligation bond measures. Two bond sales earlier this year freed the $9.1 million the conservancy is now distributing to 84previously approved projects spread over the 22 Sierra Nevada counties it encompasses. That means the Auburn-based Placer Land Trust will be able to continue with its watershed and habitat restoration project on a 50-acre preserve it owns in Bowman. The project, on land dipping into the American River canyon off Lincoln Way, will soon have a $299,000 funding infusion from state bond coffers. Jeff Darlington, Placer Land Trust executive director, said that the funding will not only enable work to take place at the site next to the Cal Fire station this fall. It will also allow the trust to pay back a $30,000 debt it?s been carrying since the project was halted, he said. ?We had the rug pulled out from under us,? Darlington said. ?The next step is to start working with the California Conservation Corps on a fuel break and fuel-load reduction.? Prop. 84 funding is the sole source for all projects authorized by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, which is headquartered in Auburn. Work to help prevent catastrophic fires, improve water quality, preserve working ranches and contribute to sustainable communities in the Sierra can now start again after the eight-month work stoppage, said conservancy Executive Director Jim Branham. ?This work is important to all Californians who enjoy the water, scenic beauty and other resources the Sierra Nevada provides,? Branham said. ---------- Back on track Ten of the 84 projects receiving unfrozen bond funds through the Sierra Nevada Conservancy are in Placer County: ? Bowman Canyon View watershed restoration ($299,000) ? Alpine Meadows forest fuels reduction ($176,000) ? Squaw Valley Park fuels reduction ($245,000) ? Placer County Hidden Falls Regional Park fuel load reduction ($506,000) ? Placer County ?low-impact development guide? ($45,000) ? American River educational publications by Auburn?s Protect American River Canyons ($49,000) ? Lower Squaw Creek restoration by Truckee River Watershed Council ($50,000) ? Eastern Placer Creek signage ($15,000) ? Hidden Falls Regional Park trail connectivity studies ($140,000) ? Donner Pass Road shoulder rehabilitation ($500,000)