Hungry Creek Project
MT HOUGH RANGER DISTRICT
Bill Wickman (US Forest
Michael De Lasaux (UC Cooperative Extension)
March 4, 2001
|Administrative Proposal Process|
The Hungry Creek Project was a unique forest restoration treatment undertaken by the Mount Hough District of the Plumas National Forest.
The project objectives were to:
1. Reduce the risk of stand destroying fires,
2. Return the stands to a condition where they can be maintained by natural or prescribed fires,
3. Provide some level of timber production,
4. Meet acceptable levels of biodiversity for plant and animal communities within the ecological settings associated with the project area.
The project was also unique in the following ways:
1. The manner in which the contractor was determined and
2. The restoration treatment that was developed to achieve a well-defined desired condition.
The project area is within the Hungry Creek watershed. This watershed is a tributary to the Indian Creek drainage system which flows into the East Branch of the North Fork of the Feather River. Geographically the project area is in the extreme northern reaches of the Sierra Nevada Range and lies just south of the transition zone between the Sierra and the Cascade Range. The primary geologic type of the watershed is granite and the soils are very sandy with large bolder outcrops intermixed with the highly erosive soil.
The absence of frequent low intensity fire and the extended drought of the 1980's and early 90's resulted in high white fir (Abies concolor) mortality and heavy fuel accumulation. Because of the high mortality, salvage logging had occurred over much of the watershed to utilize the pockets of large dead trees. In addition to the drought associated mortality salvage harvesting there were several clear cut timber sales in the 1980's.
A cumulative watershed effects analysis determined that these treatments over time have resulted in a watershed condition that was sensitive to additional activity in terms of water quality.
In spite of the sensitive watershed condition it was determined that there was greater risk to the watershed because of the heavy fuel accumulation and the associated high risk of fire.
A forest restoration treatment was designed to include the thinning of ladder fuels and removal of excessive existing dead fuels (old logging slash, down logs and standing snags), so that when a wildfire did occur, the damage to the forest and watershed would be reduced.
The Hungry project was designed as a single-entry to accomplish a number of activities that would typically be done with a series of separate contracts over a period of 5 to 10 years after the completion of the original timber sale. Several benefits of a single entry approach to the project were identified:
The forest restoration project had to be done with concern for the sensitive watershed condition and assure any that restoration activity would require appropriate mitigation of existing as well as any disturbance resulting from the planned restoration treatment. The proposed action included salvage treatment, road construction, fuels treatment and reforestation. Mitigation measures taken were:
The species distribution of wood fiber to be removed is described in Table 1. The restoration prescription focuses on the removal of shade-tolerant understory tree species, predominantly white fir.
Over 80% of the estimated volume to be removed is white fir and over 60% of the material is in trees that are less than 23 inches in diameter (DBH). Only 13% of the volume estimated to be removed is ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir that are more than 22.9 inches in diameter. Table 1 and Figures 1 and 2 show the distribution of wood fiber by species and utilization standard and diameter class.
All material other than the sawlogs was considered biomass that was chipped and delivered to cogeneration power sites. The estimated tonnage of this material (small diameter trees, topwood and cull logs) was 37,428 tons. The final tonnage amount will increase because the contractor is removing more cull log material than estimated.
|Table 1 Volume distribution by species
and utilization standard.
|Figure 1. Estimated volume distribution by species and utilization standard.|
|The estimated volume was
developed for the environmental assessment. The actual
volume removed may be different because of sample
2 MBF = 1 thousand board feet.
3 A sawlog is defined as those trees greater than 9.9 inches at 4.5 feet (DBH)
4 Top wood is defined as that part of the tree stem that is less than 4 inches in diameter.
5 Cull logs are those logs that are too rotten to be processed for lumber.
|Figure 2. Estimated sawlog volume
distribution by species and size class for trees
greater than 23 inches in diameter.
Administrative Proposal Process
The Hungry Project began as a large salvage proposal being offered as part of the 1995 Rescission Act (Public Law 104-19), the infamous "salvage rider". The project was also identified as one of the Forest Health Pilot Projects using funds specifically allocated by Secretary of Agriculture, Dan Glickman.
The evaluation and final appraising of material to be treated indicated that a traditional timber sale contract could not be used. The cost of treating and removing the larger amount of biomass material versus the percentage of sawlog indicated that the project would be deficit. Because of this deficit situation, the project was developed by requesting a proposal to perform the restoration treatment to achieve the described desired condition using a Service Contract.
A field review of the project area was held on November 4, 1996 to discuss the project with any interested parties. There were 8 individuals present that represented potential contractors, Registered Professional Foresters (RPF) and potential sub contractors. There was a general discussion of the solicitation and many of the items listed in the request for proposal.
The following items were discussed for clarification purposes:
It was explained that this was a Request For Proposal contract and that the interested parties could submit proposals that could address differences in treatment. Each proposal would be reviewed and evaluated in terms of how they would meet the described desired condition.
The primary concern that resulted from the review was a lack confidence in the estimated volume that was projected in the proposal.
When the proposal date closed 3 offers were received. The Contracting Officer determined that 2 of the offers did not provide an adequate bid price and an adequate technical description of the work to be provided to be considered viable offers. Only 1 offer was determined to be a adequate legal response.
An evaluation team reviewed the one responsive proposal and provided the Contracting Officer (CO) a list of areas where further proposal clarification was needed. At the end of the negotiation process, it was determined by the CO and evaluation team that the final proposed price was not within the project estimate range.
The proposal and negotiation process for this first round did lead to many changes from the original concept. Of primary concern to the potential contractor was the volume estimate. They felt strongly that the saw log volume was not there as indicated. Some of the changes for the next round were:
The next step in the process was to review these changes to see how they would comply or make changes in the environmental documentation and decision. The Forest Service ID team met to review and discuss the changes. The Record of Decision was amended to address the changes in biomass treatment (from piling to removal and crushing and the change in not treating the small material in the skyline units) and the change in the percent slope that ground based equipment would operate (going from 25 up to 35%).
The environmental assessment provided information describing the fiber values, harvest costs and other costs (i.e. soil disturbance mitigation measures, brush disposal, yield tax, scaling, etc.) associated with the restoration project. The overall project costs and values are described in Table 2.
|Table 2. Comprehensive Economic Overview.|
|Contract Treatment Cost||($586,487)|
|Avoided Costs Associated with High Severity Fire||$1,667,750|
|Total Value per acre||$187|
Other costs associated with the project but not quantified include:
The overall project cost and value analysis includes acknowledgement of the beneficial aspects of the restoration treatment, which are often difficult to quantify. Values include reduced risk to catastrophic wildfire, the costs of which can be classified as avoided suppression costs and avoided severe environmental degradation.
Recent fires in the Plumas National Forest have cost an average of $X,XXX per acre to suppress. Applying this average to the 1,853 acres treated in this restoration results in an avoided suppression cost of $926,500. Table 3 describes other avoided costs as a result of the treatment.
Wildlife habitat maintenance and enhancement are additional beneficial values of the project. The benefits of wildlife habitat improvement are difficult to quantify. They may be indirectly quantified in terms of the value that society is willing to invest in habitat improvement. The federal Stewardship Incentive Program which includes an enhancement practice for private land thinning to improve habitat for threatened or endangered species habitat will pay between $100 and $400 per acre for the actual treatment. A value of $200 is a reasonable value to use for estimating the wildlife habitat maintenance and enhancement associated with the Hungry Creek forest restoration treatment.
|Table 3. Summary of Avoided Costs and other Values.|
|Avoided Fire Suppression||$500||$926,500|
|Watershed Damage Mitigation||$200||$370,600|
Description of the project benefits should also include the impacts on local the local economy. It is estimated that this project has contributed approximately $10,000 per day to the local economy. This figure includes payroll, equipment parts, equipment fuel and equipment payments. To date the total outlay for the project into the county has been $1,530,000.
Economic indicators developed for the county indicate that for every dollar taken in, it will turn over 3 to 4 times. Using the conservative estimate of 3 times, this would mean that this single project will contribute approximately $4,590,000 into the local economy.
Restoration work began in the summer of 1999. Thus far almost 80 percent of the work is complete. The following information will provide an overview to date as to material removal and some economics associated with the project:
Thus far there has been 153 days of work on the project. There are approximately 27 days of work remaining. The production rate has been just under 10 acres per day.
About 1,500 loads of chips at an average of 25 tons/load or 37,500 tons of biomass products have been removed. The biomass was comprised of snags, cull logs, tops and limbs and small diameter trees (3-9.9 inches dbh).
About 1,100 loads of sawlogs with an average of 3.5 mbf/load or 3,850 mbf have been removed.
Monday, May 06, 2002 09:57:43 PM