Weaverville Community Forest
Last May, about 50 folks gathered at the Weaverville Congregational Church meeting room to discuss the possibility of acquiring and managing about 1000 acres of land managed Bureau of Land Management in the Weaverville basin. The community meeting was the latest in a series of efforts to persuade BLM to work with the local community in managing these lands for community goals and interests. The Trinity Resource Conservation and Development Council sponsored the meeting, with help from the RCD. Also in attendance were two employees of BLM, as well as county supervisors and planning staff.
A professional facilitator helped the group to establish goals, identify issues and conflicts, and evaluate possible ownership and management options. There was general consensus on pursuing community-based management of these forest lands, including viewshed protection, fuels reduction, timber management, wildlife habitat improvement (including fisheries), firewood collection, enhancing recreational and educational opportunities.
The new BLM Field Manager, Steve Anderson, suggested that the RCD work with BLM to implement a Stewardship Contract for management of the 1000 acres to meet community and resource management goals. Stewardship Contracting is a new tool for federal land managers, and provides the following:
- High level of cooperation and collaboration between BLM and the community
- Land restoration and enhancement opportunities
- Long-term agreements up to 10 years
- Project-level, multi-party monitoring and annual reports to congress
Stewardship projects are designed to meet one or more land management goals that address local and community needs. These goals may include:
- Road and trail maintenance for improved water quality and recreation
- Soil productivity, habitat for wildlife and fisheries, or other resource values
- Setting prescribed fires to improve composition, structure, condition, and health of stands or to improve wildlife habitat
- Removing vegetation, or other activities, to promote healthy forest stands, reduce fire hazards or achieve other land management objectives
- Watershed restoration and maintenance
- Restoration and maintenance of wildlife and fish habitat
- Control of noxious and exotic weeds and reestablishing native plant species
The Weaverville community has shown a strong interest in these lands for over five years, and local collaboration has been very high. The community has been clear about how they would like BLM to manage and restore these lands.
This vision now can be integrated into a multi-year stewardship agreement that will lay out a work plan with specific projects for the next couple of years and longer-term restoration and management goals. “It's all about building a strong link between the people of Weaverville and the natural resources that brought them here in the first place,” commented Pat Frost at a follow-up meeting on November 9th. “Ultimately, I see our school children participating in this land stewardship through our Conservation Legacy Program and creating a link to future generations of our community.”
To find out more about the Weaverville Community Forest Stewardship project, visit the District’s Community Forest page