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The Signpost Newsletter

First Quarter 2018

Managing the Resource

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The program has been very successful, in that it has increased community engagement in Washoe County parks, as well as raised awareness about the vegetation management aspect of the project at Galena Creek Regional Park. It has demonstrated what efficiencies can be found from a simple forest management plan that can also have a large impact on the whole community. In 2016, the program earned letters of appreciation from U.S. Congressman Mark Amodei and U.S. Senator Dean Heller of Nevada.


Eventually, in theory, the ultimate success of the program would be a little bitter-sweet. The large clusters of firs would be reduced to less than a dozen per acre, to the point of sustainability. It would take several more years until the trees would return in sufficient numbers to cut Christmas trees for those families in need, while not eliminating that species entirely. This year, as the coordinator of the harvest, I looked at the way the Forest Service manages their Christmas tree permitting, and it gave me a great idea. Typically, the USFS only opens small, specific areas to firewood and tree cutting permits. The areas are then rotated every few years so that excess trees, mostly red and white fir, can be removed at a rate that is healthy for the forest at large. Those areas would then be allowed to recover for the next few years while new areas were opened.


In the spirit of the joint management agreement between the county and the forest service, I managed to obtain a permit that enabled Washoe County staff to harvest trees on USFS lands adjacent to the park. It not only provided the ability to continue the charitable aspect of our program, but increased the reach of our vegetation management strategy to include those adjacent areas, further increasing the chances of successfully maintaining forest health within the park.


While this example may not be relevant to every agency out there, it could provide a little insight into the possibilities that may arise from similar agency partnerships that can have effects that far outreach the primary goals.

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