What is SOFAR Cohesive Strategy?
The South Fork of the American River (SOFAR) Watershed was proposed for implementing the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy in 2014 because of the many values at risk to wildfire. The result of a century of fire exclusion and past management decisions have resulted in complex fire issues that are exacerbated by drought, climate change, uncharacteristic stand structures, fuel loading, and insects and disease. Communities, infrastructure, private timber, water, power, recreation, at-risk species, insect and disease designated areas, a high frequency of unplanned human ignitions and significant acres of young dense plantations are all reasons that this watershed is a high priority for collaborative action. The need for proactive fuels management and implementing a cohesive strategy in this watershed was underscored by the 2014 King Fire which burned 12% of the project area, including large patches with high severity fire effects. The King Fire also yielded low and mixed burn severity that was in the natural range of variability for fire effects.
The SOFAR Cohesive Strategy project area is approximately 410,000 acres, including approximately 250,000 acres of the Eldorado National Forest. The project area includes the upper 75% of the South Fork of the American River Watershed, 50% of the King Fire burned area, and 49 miles of the Highway 50 corridor. The Hwy 50 corridor has had five large fires within the last 40 years which have spread throughout the watershed: the Pilliken Fire (1973), Wrights Fire (1981), the Cleveland Fire (1992), the Freds Fire (2004) and the King Fire (2014), all of which were human starts. Values at risk within the watershed include communities, private recreation cabins, private timber, sensitive species and habitat, old growth forest remnants, managed forested lands, water delivery systems, hydroelectric power generation facilities, the Highway 50 transportation corridor (Gateway to South Lake Tahoe), and cultural sites.
Collaborative Vision and Goals
Through the open and transparent collaboration among a dedicated group of diverse members, and using the best-available science, the Collaborative will promote a healthy, productive forest ecosystem across all lands. On a watershed scale, we will work to create a fire-resilient ecosystem that supports viable populations of all native species, sustainable fisheries, functioning and restored watersheds and water quality, protected cultural resources, and diverse recreational opportunities.
The Collaborative will make steady progress towards the three primary goals of the National Cohesive Strategy:
Restoring and maintaining resilient landscapes – Landscapes across all jurisdictions are resilient to fire related disturbances in accordance with management objectives.
Creating fire-adapted communities– Human populations and infrastructure can withstand a wildfire without loss of life or property.
Responding to wildfires – All jurisdictions participate in making and implementing safe, effective, and efficient risk-based fire management decisions.
Strategic Coordination – Focus Areas
While many projects are underway at all times in the watershed, since 2018 partners in the SOFAR Collaborative have been working together to coordinate efforts in priority focus areas. These efforts advance the cohesive strategy goals in the near term as part of a long-term commitment to the watershed to make meaningful progress.
Tracking Progress – 2019 in Brief
SOFAR members and partners accomplished substantial gains in 2019 to collaboratively pursue and obtain grant funds, implement fuels reduction and forest restoration treatments, plan for future management needs, and enhance awareness and understanding.
SOFAR is made up of diverse organizations contributing to achieve cohesive strategy goals. Participation and membership is open to all stakeholders: individuals, businesses, agencies or organizations that live, work, operate, manage public and/or private forest or watershed lands, or assist in local sustainability of the environment, community, and economy. Membership requires signing the Charter and acceptance as a member by the group at a regularly scheduled meeting. A member may leave the Collaborative at any time and for any reason with a letter to the Collaborative withdrawing from the Charter. Members work to understand each other’s interests, and develop recommendations that include and address the range of interests represented. This commitment to inclusion is a foundation of the collaborative process, and constitutes a fundamental part of acting in good faith.
SOFAR Collaborative charter signatories:
- California Forestry Association
- Catalytic Connections
- California Native Plant Society
- El Dorado County and Georgetown Divide Resource Conservation Districts
- Eldorado Fire Chiefs’ Association
- Eldorado National Forest
- Fire Restoration Group
- Georgetown Divide Firesafe Council
- National Wild Turkey Federation
- Northern Sierra Summer Home Association
- Pollock Pines-Camino Firesafe Council
- Sierra Club
- Sierra Forest Legacy
- Sierra Pacific Industries
Partial list of SOFAR Collaborative partners:
- American River Conservancy
- Associated California Loggers
- Cal Fire
- California Off-Road Vehicle Association
- California State Assembly
- California State Parks
- Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation
- El Dorado County Sheriff
- El Dorado County Supervisor
- El Dorado Firesafe Council
- El Dorado Irrigation District
- El Dorado Northern Lumber Co
Steering Committee – view meeting schedule
- Provides guidance for the day-to-day management of the organization.
- Develops monthly agendas, scheduling and coordinating Collaborative meetings.
- Evaluates and recommends policy and budget options.
- Updates the Collaborative Charter and signatories.
- Identifies strategic topics and presenters.
- Acts as the liaison contact with the facilitator.
- Resolves communication and coordination issues that may arise between committees to minimize duplication of effort or conflict.
- Assesses meeting needs and provides appropriate space and technology for facilitating meetings.
Communication Committee – view Communication Plan (May 2019 update)
- Primary responsibility for media communications.
- Prepares Communication Plan to share information.
- Prepares outreach material and disseminates information.
- Compiles and maintains an email distribution list to share information.
- Advises on website design and function.
Funding and Finance Committee
Work groups: Desired Conditions; Spatial Needs; Fire Response
- Provides analysis for policy and program development at the landscape and project scale.
- Assesses project and landscape planning needs and provides background and recommendations.
- Assesses and coordinates planning and reporting issues that may arise between projects to minimize duplication of effort or working at cross-purposes.
- Assists in project designs that are consistent with approved policy and available resources.
- Drafts position papers and assesses opportunities.
- Oversees and maintains a comprehensive public archive of available information (e.g. reports, studies, plans, data, analysis, surveys, etc.) related to the cohesive strategy goals.
- Acts as the liaison contact with regional, state, federal and corporate entities as appropriate for coordinating planning activities.
Infrastructure and Biomass Committee
- Assesses the current forest product infrastructure in the region and provides leadership to enhance forest product use.