In 2004, the Power Fire burned approximately 17,000 acres of the Eldorado National Forest and private land. To address the fire’s aftermath and promote resilience in the face of future wildfires, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation released a grant opportunity for the Strategic Analysis of Fuels Management in the Power Fire Scar of the El Dorado National Forest.
In 2019, Trihydro worked successfully with the Mountain Counties Water Resources Association (MCWRA) to secure $179,000 in grant funding to create a large spatial scale fire fuels reduction analysis and strategic plan to identify innovative, efficient, and cost-effective fuels reduction and biomass management plans for fuels reduction projects within the Panther Creek, Bear River, and Cole Creek watersheds of El Dorado National Forest.
The Power Fire altered the fuel beds throughout the fire scar and impacted the selected watersheds. To address this, from 2019 to 2021, the project involved prioritizing areas for fuel reduction, developing a feasibility study-based approach to identify and rank alternatives, presenting results in a strategic fuel management plan, and providing a weighted risk/benefit matrix that could be used as a tool to manage forest health.
The prioritization effort considered numerous variables, including culture resources, access, sensitive habitats, alignment with other projects, critical infrastructure, and future fire risk. Trihydro identified and evaluated traditional and innovative fuel removal methods, including prescribed burning, selective thinning, and biomass energy. When evaluating alternatives, Trihydro considered multiple factors, including economic benefits, labor requirements, watershed health, greenhouse gas emissions, and alignment with United States Forest Service goals.