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Los Gatos Creek Watershed Collaborative Awarded $6,336,790 In New CAL FIRE Forest Health Grant Funding

Date: May 8, 2023
Ryan McCauley, 650-772-3644, rmccauley@openspace.org
Seth Schalet, sschalet@sccfiresafe.org

Los Gatos Creek Watershed Collaborative Awarded $6,336,790 In New CAL FIRE Forest Health Grant Funding

The Santa Clara County FireSafe Council will serve as the CAL FIRE Forest Health Grant recipient and grant administrator for Phase Two of the collaborative’s latest implementation of forest health and wildfire mitigation treatments, covering 841 new acres in the Los Gatos Creek Watershed and incorporating Aldercroft Heights Firewise and Lupin Lodge in the treatment areas. This brings total funding for the LGCWC’s Forest Health Grant projects to $13,836,790.

Saratoga, CA - The Santa Clara County FireSafe Council (SCCFSC) announced that the Los Gatos Creek Watershed Collaborative has been awarded a new $6,336,790 CAL FIRE Forest Health Grant to continue work in the Los Gatos Creek Watershed, incorporating new treatment areas with Aldercroft Heights Firewise and Lupin Lodge. This landscape-scale forest health project focuses on creating ecosystem resilience, mitigating the risk of, and reducing the severity of potential wildfire, while enhancing the safety of the surrounding communities. The new funding round serves to protect sensitive native and endemic species and habitats, and protect the drinking water in Lexington and Elsman reservoirs which supply over 100,000 residents. The original collaborative was awarded a $7,500,000 Forest Health Grant in 2021.

The collaborative, originally formed in 2020, includes San Jose Water, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, Santa Clara FireSafe Council, Santa Clara County Parks, and new community partners Lupin Lodge and Aldercroft Heights Firewise in this Phase Two award. This collaboration, a unique, multi-stakeholder approach, maximizes each stakeholders’ efforts on landscape-level treatments — managing vegetation to enhance the resiliency of these critical lands in the wake of a changing climate. The collaborative has identified an interconnectable mosaic pattern of priority treatment areas that, with ecologically sensitive treatments, meet the goals of the Forest Health Program and Phase Two award to:

  • Protect upper watersheds where important regional water supplies originate.
  • Promote the long-term storage of carbon and reduce the severity of potential wildfire, thereby increasing community and forest ecosystem protection.
  • Establish healthy, resilient fire-adapted ecosystems to protect and conserve natural resources.

The Los Gatos Creek Watershed partners each express their gratitude to CAL FIRE and look forward to commencing field-based activities. The project is expected to be completed by March 31, 2029. Accordingly, the principals from the collaborative partners add the following statements:

  • “The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s (CAL FIRE) Mission and Vision Statements both include the mandate to protect and enhance California’s rich natural resources. The Santa Clara Unit is very pleased to support these goals through a continued partnership with the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council and the many stakeholders involved with this Forest Health Program grant,” commented CAL FIRE Santa Clara Unit Chief, George Huang.
  • “We thank CAL FIRE for this new award and the confidence they have in the collaborative’s work over the last 18 months. This new funding enables the collaborative to expand its footprint, treating 841 new acers in sensitive ecosystems at risk for wildfire,” stated Seth Schalet, Chief Executive Officer of the Santa Clara FireSafe Council. “With our existing partners, and our new Phase Two partners, each with a deep commitment to the Los Gatos Creek Watershed and experience serving the local community, we look forward to enhancing forest resiliency and helping keep communities safer from wildfire,” continued Schalet.
  • According to Andy Gere, President and Chief Operating Officer for San Jose Water, “Phase 2 extends our ability to enhance forest heath and sustainable water supply while reducing the potential for catastrophic wildfire. This project is a significant step towards increasing the resilience of our regional landscape to the impacts of climate change, drought and wildfire. We are excited to move this important work forward in collaboration with our partners and local stakeholders."
  • “Partnerships and grant funding, like the Forest Health Grant project, are critical in catalyzing local efforts to significantly reduce wildland fire risk within our region,” Midpen General Manager Ana María Ruiz said. “Collaborations like these are leveraging Midpen’s resources to proactively increase ecologically sensitive vegetation management within the public open space preserves we manage.”

The Los Gatos Creek Watershed Collaborative Forest Health Grant is a collaboration between these public and private entities, and is a part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment. particularly in disadvantaged communities. The Cap-and-Trade program also creates a financial incentive for industries to invest in clean technologies and develop innovative ways to reduce pollution. California Climate Investments projects include affordable housing, renewable energy, public transportation, zero- emission vehicles, environmental restoration, more sustainable agriculture, recycling, and much more. At least 35 percent of these investments are located within and benefiting residents of disadvantaged communities, low-income communities, and low-income households across California. For more information, visit the California Climate Investments website at: caclimateinvestments.ca.gov.

The public can monitor project communications and updates by visiting the Lost Gatos Creek Watershed Collaborative website at: lgwatershedhealth.com/

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