TRUCKEE, Calif. – The Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation recently approved grants totaling $855,000 for phase two of its three-year, $30 million Future of the Forest campaign.bringing the total grants deployed this year to approximately $2 million.
Forest Futures is a comprehensive playbook that can be replicated by other communities to align local organizations to reduce the risk of extreme wildfires through better preparedness, investments in forest health and infrastructure and the diversification of local economies.
Phase two grants focus on community protection, infrastructure, and accelerating the development of market solutions. The first phase, announced in April, awarded $1 million in grants to forest management projects. To date, $5.4 million has been raised to fund Forest Futures.
The Forest Futures campaign tackles a wide range of complex and interrelated issues related to wildfires. The Sierra Nevada region has become a powder keg due to drought, a bark beetle infestation that has killed more than 16 million trees, and forest overpopulation that drains vital water from the ecosystem and blankets the forest floor of flammable fuels. At the same time, rural economies in the region have lost the economic engines that provide the basic infrastructure to manage forests, including sawmills and paper mills, and woody biomass processing facilities. Cal Fire has classified the entire Tahoe Truckee area as very high or high fire danger areas.
The second phase of the Forest Futures campaign addresses some of the region’s economic inequities by providing direct grants to local fire districts to support defensible space and fuel reduction efforts, fill funding gaps and pay for community wildfire resilience coordination. It encourages workforce development by providing field equipment and scholarships to students in community college forestry and fire programs; builds infrastructure by funding programs to process green waste as fuelwood; and accelerates solutions to market through a business strategy award to help entrepreneurs grow small businesses.
These awards complement the grants from the first phase of Forests Future, which awarded $1 million to nine local institutions with 11 forest management projects. Currently underway, these projects include hazardous tree removal planning for critical escape routes; working with local community organizations in recovery efforts; increase community engagement, education and public awareness; and the initiation of urban and rural youth to forest management.
“Effective resource deployment empowers communities to tackle complex, interrelated issues that affect part-time and full-time residents, the forest, infrastructure, sustainability and the economy,” says Stacy Caldwell, CEO of TTCF. “Each new phase of Forest Futures prioritizes relationships with community organizations. We are applying lessons learned from community partnerships and grantmaking during COVID to create a sense of urgency and use trust-based philanthropy to rapidly deploy dollars to where they are needed most.
As an example, Caldwell cites a recent $1 million donation to TTCF from Richard and Theresa Crocker, the Crocker Philanthropy Fund’s donor advisors and part-time owners in Tahoe Truckee for more than two decades. By following its impact investing agenda, TTCF could immediately allocate the donation to support critical initiatives including Forest Futures; mental health, social services and disaster preparedness for low-income families; Scholarships; housing projects, and community programs and education.
“Wildfires do not discriminate between rich and poor, private or public property, or state or federal borders,” Caldwell adds. “We are all in there.”
Funding for the second phase of Forest Futures aims to level the playing field by addressing the economic inequalities faced by residents of the region. Direct grants to local fire districts and the hiring of a coordinator who can serve as a resource person will support Firewise community efforts, grant applications and coordination with local fire districts.
A Workforce Development Grant adds to the cohort of Workforce Development Phase 1 recipients and will complement efforts to address persistent labor shortages by training people with the skills to fight fires and plan and implement forest health projects, thereby increasing the number of professionals available to get needed work done.
The Phase Two grants also address the question of what to do with green waste by funding disposal and treatment efforts, and offering a business strategy award to help entrepreneurs address these issues grow their businesses.
Specifically, the grants will fund green waste and biomass integration in Placer County; finance a technical feasibility study of a biomass installation; support fuel reduction projects in the Olympic Valley and Alpine meadows; supporting education and awareness of the Fire Adapted Communities program; and providing yard waste collection program support to eastern Nevada and Placer counties.
Forest Futures is the culmination of over four years of work with 97 multidisciplinary experts to form a strategy and action plan that addresses a variety of interrelated forest issues.
Source: Truckee-Tahoe Community Foundation