Renew Siskiyou – A Roadmap to Resilience

The individuals, organizations and worldviews that shape life in Siskiyou County are as unique and diverse as the environment that sustains them. In order to address the many factors that influence ecosystem function and quality of life in the region, resource managers and concerned citizens need a safe space to deliberate controversial issues of common concern.

We recently created a climate adaptation plan through Climate Solutions University entitled Renew Siskiyou – A Roadmap to Resilience. Thus begins a 5-year collaborative planning process which facilitates that conversation.  The overall goal is to improve forest, rangeland and watershed health to safeguard the region against climate impacts such as persistent drought and extreme wildfire.  In order to achieve this, diverse stakeholders must identify obstacles and opportunities to sustainable natural resource management, then coordinate strategies to implement priorities. In so doing we will reinforce ecosystems while increasing community resilience and quality of life in the region in a cohesive and enduring manner.

The Impetus:

Catastrophic wildfire and persistent drought are the greatest climate risks facing Siskiyou County in the 21st Century. More than 100 years of intensive forest management entailing fire suppression and exclusion, clear cuts and mono-crop plantations have created conditions that deviate from the forest ecosystems that evolved to flourish in the area’s Mediterranean climate.

Exacerbated by recent trends of rising temperatures and precipitation falling more as rain than snow, the majority of Siskiyou County forests are in what resource professionals consider “tinder box” conditions. Recent fires in Siskiyou County and nearby Shasta County including the Bagley fire in 2012 and Happy Camp Complex fire in 2014 have posed major threats to people, property and wildlife due to these conditions.

After three years of record setting drought in California, culminating in the winter that forgot Siskiyou County in 2014, when snowpack simply never accumulated below 4000 ft., an area accustomed to abundant supplies of freshwater is being challenged to rethink water management in a source water area relied upon by a multitude of downstream interests.

The Goals:

Proposed goals for enhancing climate resilience developed during the initial phase of the planning process are summarized as follows:

  • Goal 1: Promote source water quality and quantity through land use protections, ecosystem restoration, and water conservation.
  • Goal 2: Restore healthy forest ecosystems through restoration, forest product diversification and sustainable timber management practices.
  • Goal 3: Prioritize public health as crucial for resilient community building and climate preparedness.
  • Goal 4: Build partnerships and organizational capacity to refine findings and implement this plan.

Read the full Renew Siskiyou Climate Adaptation Plan.