The Tecuya Ridge Shaded Fuelbreak Project — planned for the Los Padres National Forest’s Mt. Pinos Ranger District — is past a legal hurdle.
The project was cleared to proceed after U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips’ recent ruling against a lawsuit brought by Los Padres ForestWatch, Earth Island Institute and the Center for Biological Diversity. The court affirmed that the proposed thinning and fuels reduction work was consistent with the Forest Service’s Roadless Area Conservation Rule and issued a decision in favor of the Forest Service and the Defendant-Intervenors.
The Forest Service’s legal position was supported by the American Forest Resource Council, California Forestry Association and Associated California Loggers. The Kern County Fire Department also advocated for the project, going back to 2009 when the project was first identified within the Mt. Pinos Communities Wildfire Protection Plan.
Tied up in federal litigation for the last three years, the Tecuya Ridge Shaded Fuelbreak Project is intended to create safe and effective locations for wildland firefighters to safely perform fire suppression operations and reduce the potential for the loss of life and property.
According to a news release, shaded fuel breaks help to slow the spread of a wildfire and provide a buffer between developed areas and wildlands. The project includes timber stand improvements such as thinning that reduces unhealthy stand densities and increases the forest’s resilience to insects, disease and drought.
“This is another victory for forest health and for the people who live adjacent to Los Padres National Forest,” Chris Stubbs, Los Padres Forest supervisor, said. “I’m concerned about losing our Southern California forests while we battle litigation in court. Selective thinning enables us to protect our forests from the effects of catastrophic wildfire.”
The project consists of 1,626 acres along Tecuya Mountain above the communities of Lebec, Frazier Park, Lake of the Woods, Pine Mountain Club and Pinon Pine Estates. This project was developed to be consistent with the Mt. Pinos Community Wildfire Protection Plan and was identified in the Forest’s Strategic Fuelbreak Assessment analysis as a priority for wildfire mitigation treatments.
This project is scheduled to start next year.