Camp 5/Flume 46 Vegetation Management Project
Project Summary: Cal Fire awarded $280,500 in grant funding to El Dorado Irrigation District’s (EID) Camp 5/Flume 46 Vegetation Management Project, which is designed to reduce the risk of wildfire at both facilities. This will be accomplished by implementing fuels reduction and vegetation management treatments within 74 acres of EID-owned parcels at Ditch Camp 5 (Camp 5) and Flume 46 along the El Dorado Canal (canal). The Camp 5 complex is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, El Dorado Hydroelectric Project (FERC Project No. 184) maintenance facility adjacent to and north of Highway 50. Camp 5 is surrounded by residential neighborhoods with numerous private homes immediately adjacent to the facilities. Flume 46 is a ¾ mile long wooden flume susceptible to wildfire, a key segment of the open water El Dorado Canal system and houses critical infrastructure such as an emergency spillway used to operate the canal system.
The King Fire (2014) burned inside and adjacent to the Camp 5 complex and dead and downed woody material presents a hazardous fuel loading condition near critical infrastructure. The King Fire cost taxpayers an estimated 5 million dollars a day to suppress, requiring over 4,000 fire fighters and an estimated 450,000 gallons of fire retardant. Total costs exceeded $100 million making it one of the most expensive California wildfires on record (Los Angeles Times 2015). This project entails vegetation management treatments concentrated around Camp 5 and on both sides of Flume 46 water conveyance structure. EID provides the primary source of consumptive water supplies for domestic purposes and the El Dorado Canal is the primary water conveyance system used to transport water to delivery, storage and hydroelectric infrastructure throughout the county. All work in the fuel reduction zone is designed to protect over 3,000 habitable structures in the low-income adjacent communities of Pollock Pines and Fresh Pond and to protect critical EID water conveyance infrastructure from wildfire threat.
Camp 5 is located four miles east of Pollock Pines in El Dorado County. Camp 5 is a FERC maintenance facility consisting of 22 buildings and structures on the north side of Highway 50 between Pollock Pines and Fresh Pond. The buildings and structures on the property comprise the EID Project 184 headquarters and are located on a hillside above the El Dorado Canal, which is the main Project 184 canal and is in operation most of the year. The canal and its wooden flumes carry water needed for domestic use throughout the County as well as agricultural use and water used for hydropower generation.
This project is located entirely within El Dorado County on the western slope of the north central region of the Sierra Nevada range in California. The project planning area is within the Pollock Pines community region and is located entirely within an area ranked as a “Very High” Fire Hazard Severity Zone (FHSZ). This area is listed as a priority #1 item in the El Dorado County Fire District CWPP for the Pollock Pines sub unit. The area is a prime example of a WUI (Wildland Urban Interface) with more than 3,000 habitable structures that could be affected by wildland fire in the immediate vicinity. The river drainage, ridgelines, and canyon terrain alignment combined with typical prevailing wind directions will likely feed a wildland fire directly into the town of Pollock Pines. Equally, an ignition originating out of Randolph Canyon (north of Highway 50) during a north wind event will rapidly spread southwest, across Highway 50.
The Project is in a WUI defense zone where the focus is to protect life and property. This strategic fuel management project will help contain wildfires and facilitate long-term, collaborative ecosystem stewardship through practices such as continued mechanical and hand treatment, removal of fuel ladders, tree pruning to inhibit vertical fire spread.
Treatment Types: This project will be accomplished through a variety of vegetation management prescriptions such as mechanical and hand treatments, removal of fuel ladders, and tree pruning to inhibit vertical fire spread and the potential for crown fire.
- Prevent wildfires and protect communities, infrastructure, and forest resources within the WUI;
- Implement vegetation prescriptions to reduce fire hazard, improve tree growth, and increase forest resiliency;
- Implement vegetation prescriptions to reduce the rate of spread, duration and intensity, and fuel ignition into the crowns of conifer forests;
- Retain and enhance ecosystem processes to create a fire resilient landscape which is compatible with the fuel hazard reduction prescriptions; and
- Support a collaborative approach to create fire resilient and fire-adapted communities in the region.
Planning Years: 2018-2019
Implementation Years: 2019-2021
Responsible Agency: El Dorado Irrigation District (EID)
Values to Be Protected: The goals of this project are to return the project area to a more managed, fire resistant condition and to protect local communities and EID’s critical infrastructure and water quality from the effects of catastrophic wildfire.
Fire History: The King Fire, which consumed 97,717 acres in the fall of 2014, burned right up to the edge of Camp 5 facilities. The event threatened 12,000 residences, destroyed 12 residences and 68 other structures and damaged critical infrastructure including facilities, roads, bridges, and electrical transmission and distribution lines. The threat of re-burn from dead and downed material in the Project Area is high.
SOFAR Goals: This Project supports all three goals of the South Fork American River (SOFAR) National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy as follows:
- Resilient Landscapes: The vegetation management activities of this Project is designed to make the forest more capable of withstanding climate impacts and more likely to avoid the negative impacts associated with catastrophic wildfire. Reducing the incidence of catastrophic wildfire in turn, reduces emissions of GHGs and also increases the carbon sequestration capacity of the forests.
- Fire Adapted Communities: Reducing hazard trees and fuel load around water conveyance structures and along roadways is a key characteristic of a fire-adapted community.
- Wildfire Response: By reducing structure vulnerability, suppression resources can be redirected to the wildfire suppression rather than structure protection.
Contact: Dan Corcoran, EID – firstname.lastname@example.org