Hemlock Project – Phase 2

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Funding Opportunity ID:302492
Opportunity Number:BOR-MP-18-N016
Opportunity Title:Hemlock Project – Phase 2
Opportunity Category:Discretionary
Opportunity Category Explanation:
Funding Instrument Type:Grant
Category of Funding Activity:Natural Resources
Category Explanation:
CFDA Number(s):15.517
Eligible Applicants:Public and State controlled institutions of higher education
Additional Information on Eligibility:
Agency Code:DOI-BOR
Agency Name:Department of the Interior
Bureau of Reclamation
Posted Date:Apr 03, 2018
Close Date:Apr 17, 2018
Last Updated Date:Apr 03, 2018
Award Ceiling:$235,250
Award Floor:$235,250
Estimated Total Program Funding:$235,250
Expected Number of Awards:1
Description:OVERVIEW When approved, this Award of $235,250 will fund the second phase of investigation for the Hemlock Forest Restoration Project Study (aka Hemlock Project). This Project is the first of-its-kind comprehensive, quantitative assessment of the water-cycle consequences (both positive and negative) of forest restoration in a Sierra Nevada mixed-conifer forest. The 12,000-acre landscape-restoration project site known as the Hemlock Project is located in the Stanislaus National Forest and Mokelumne River basin, which is an area that Congress has authorized the Bureau of Reclamation to investigate for water storage and improved water-management reliability in the Mokelumne River basin. The Hemlock Project is being managed with the involvement and cooperation of the Stanislaus National Forest who expects that the Hemlock Project’s forest modifications will restore watershed functions by creating different forest-stand structures and densities. These modifications have multiple benefits including reducing the forest’s susceptibility to insect, disease, and drought-related mortality; reducing surface fuels, increasing the height to canopy, and decreasing crown density; retaining large, fire-resistant trees; maintaining and enhancing wildlife habitat; enhancing the extent and connectivity of aspen stands; and improving resource and watershed conditions. These actions will also enhance water-supply reliability by restoring the fraction of precipitation that leaves the basin as runoff versus evapotranspiration; guard against erosion, water-quality problems and snowpack losses associated with wildfire; and maintain water and forest health as the climate warms and evaporative demand increases. This application is for the second phase of funding, generally representing years 3 through 4 of the proposed 10 year period of investigation for the Hemlock Project Study. RECIPIENT INVOLVEMENT Project Work Plan UC Merced engineers and hydrologists will be involved in all aspects of this field research project. Their proposed approach to the hydrologic assessment involves carrying out intensive hydrologic and vegetation measurements and hydrologic modeling of forest treatment and control catchments, following silviculture prescriptions that provide end-member information for assessments. All aspects of the Hemlock Project are also developed in close coordination with the U.S Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Regional Forester’s Office as well as with the Stanislaus National Forest Supervisor and local District Rangers. Silviculture Treatment Overview The 12,000-acre Hemlock Project is aimed at improving ecological resilience by producing different forest-stand structures and densities; reducing the forest’s susceptibility to insect, disease, and drought-related mortality; reducing surface fuels, increasing the height to canopy, and decreasing crown density; retaining large, fire-resistant trees; maintaining and enhancing important wildlife habitat; enhancing the extent and connectivity of aspen stands; and improving resource and watershed conditions. This approach contrasts with current Sierra Nevada forest management, which is often focused on strategically reducing fuels without an explicit strategy for ecological restoration across the landscape. The layout of silviculture prescriptions across the Hemlock Project site will follow the scientific principles in the Forest Service’s GTR-220 prescription. Summarizing recent scientific literature, GTR-220 suggests that managers produce different stand structures and densities across the landscape using topographic variables (i.e., slope shape, aspect, and slope position) as a guide for varying treatments. Local cool or moist areas, where historically fire would have burned less frequently or at lower severity, would have higher density and canopy cover, providing habitat for sensitive species. In contrast upper, southern-aspect slopes would have low densities of large fire-resistant trees. For tree thinning, marking rules would be based on crown strata or age cohorts and species, rather than uniform diameter limits. Collectively, the GTR-220 management recommendations emphasize the ecological role of fire, changing climate conditions, sensitive wildlife habitat, and the importance of forest-structure heterogeneity. For the Hemlock Project, vegetation treatments are proposed beginning in 2018, as outlined in the project NEPA documents. The NEPA document for the Hemlock Project was signed in October 2015, and the first contract for thinning is expected to be issued in 2018. Thinning treatments are scheduled in the area proposed for the hydrologic assessment in 2018, with the option to postpone until 2019 if necessary. After initial site evaluation, four catchments were determined to be most appropriate for thinning, monitoring and assessment to meet the project goals (Table 1). Two of these catchments will be treated under the Hemlock Restoration Proposed Action and leaving one as control. The final decision as to which will be the primary catchment for restoration versus light restoration will be made in 2016, after detailed forest-inventory data become available. RECLAMATION INVOLVEMENT Reclamation anticipates providing technical assistance when requested as well as providing for agency coordination with the USDA Forest Service as this project is implemented. In particular, Reclamation will be responsible for the following: 1. Coordination with the Pacific Southwest Regional Foresters Office and the Stanislaus National Forest officials as needed; 2. Assisting UC Merced as needed in coordinating communications and results with other Reclamation Regions and other agencies as well as communicating preliminary results to Reclamations Policy and Washington D.C. headquarters as part of the Western Watershed Enhancement Partnership Interagency Agreement SINGLE-SOURCE JUSTIFICATION Reclamation did not solicit full and open competition for this award based the following criteria: (4) UNIQUE QUALIFICATIONS Single Source Justification Description: The University of California, Merced is uniquely qualified to manage an award of $235,250.00 from Western Watershed Enhancement Partnership (WWEP) program. In its role as project manager, UC Merced is exceptionally well-qualified to manage all aspects of this important research project, including the necessary field work to install the required weather stations and sensor network, manage the data generated and interpret the data through peer-accepted research papers. With the overall goal of providing an informed understanding of how forests may be better managed to reduce the risk of severe wildfires and also derive concurrent benefits through forest-fuel modifications to provide additional water runoff, the Hemlock Project represents an important first-of-its-kind investigation which has potentially-significant implications to the U.S. Forest Service, Reclamation and other agencies which are charged with legacy land management responsibilities. The Hemlock Project is the first comprehensive, quantitative assessment of the water-cycle consequences (both positive and negative) of forest vegetation modifications in a Sierra Nevada mixed-conifer forest. The University of California, Merced and its Sierra Nevada Institute is a recognized leader in forestry and watershed research activities in the Sierra Nevada and has the specialized expertise and research capability to effectively manage and communicate the results this study. The Hemlock Project is the first of-its-kind assessment of forest-fuel modifications needed for both fire resiliency as well as runoff optimization in the U.S. The Hemlock Project is a 12,000-acre landscape-restoration project located in the Stanislaus National Forest and Mokelumne River basin, which is an area that Congress has authorized the Bureau of Reclamation to undertake for feasibility studies for water storage and improved water-management reliability. Developed in cooperation with the Forest Service, expectations are that the restoration actions studied under the Hemlock Project will improve its understanding of how to restore watershed functions by creating different forest-stand structures and densities; reducing the forest’s susceptibility to insect, disease, and drought-related mortality; reducing surface fuels, increasing the height to canopy, and decreasing crown density; retaining large, fire-resistant trees; maintaining and enhancing wildlife habitat; enhancing the extent and connectivity of aspen stands; and improving resource and watershed conditions. STATUTORY AUTHORITY The Omnibus Lands Management Act , P.L. 111-11, Section 9509: “The Secretary may enter into contracts, grants, or cooperative agreements, for periods not to exceed 5 years, to carry out research within the Bureau of Reclamation”. Public Law 111-11 To designate certain land as components of the National Wilderness Preservation System, to authorize certain programs and activities in the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture, and for other purposes. <<NOTE: Mar. 30, 2009 – [H.R. 146]>> Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, <<NOTE: Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. 16 USC 1 note.>> SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS. (a) Short Title.–This Act may be cited as the “Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009”. (b) Table of Contents.–The table of contents of this Act is as follows: SEC. 9509. <<NOTE: 42 USC 10369.>> RESEARCH AGREEMENT AUTHORITY. The Secretary may enter into contracts, grants, or cooperative agreements, for periods not to exceed 5 years, to carry out research within the Bureau of Reclamation. SEC. 9510. <<NOTE: 42 USC 10370.>> EFFECT. (a) In General.–Nothing in this subtitle supersedes or limits any existing authority provided, or responsibility conferred, by any provision of law. (b) Effect on State Water Law.– (1) In general.–Nothing in this subtitle preempts or affects any– (A) State water law; or (B) interstate compact governing water. (2) Compliance required.–The Secretary shall comply with applicable State water laws in carrying out this subtitle.
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