To the editor:
The Upper Little Bear Mountain Club is located in Blue Jay and consists of about 35 older homes and a 40-acre open space. In May 2021 the HOA and Cal Fire signed an agreement for
a fuel reduction project to remove 85 percent of the brush ground cover and trees 12 inches and under.
The open space is in a county-recognized wildlife corridor and is Southern Rubber Boa (SRB)
habitat. The State of California has exempted Cal Fire from CEQA environmental review for this type of project.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Lahontan State Water Quality Board had representatives conduct a site review and gave recommendations to Cal Fire regarding protection of the threatened SRB and habitat.
Letters from residents and multiple environmental groups to Cal Fire and the HOA fell on deaf ears as the fuel reduction project continued aggressively. A lawsuit was filed by SOFA, California Chaparral Institute and Friends of Little Bear on July 11, 2022, with additional declaration by Dr. Chad Hanson, research ecologist.
On July 26 Cal Fire abandoned the project area, declaring the project completed. The lawsuit was subsequently withdrawn by agreement with all parties. Piles of cut wood on Old Toll Road were left which required County Code Enforcement to notify Cal Fire for removal.
This has been an unfortunate example of a “we do this type of fuel reduction project routinely” without site specific knowledge and an unwillingness for the Upper Little Bear HOA and Cal Fire to have any meaningful dialogue with residents, neighbors and environmental groups to make any modifications to their initial agreement.
If (and when) you hear or see chainsaws cutting and the reason is unclear, asking questions
and seeking answers is the first step to becoming informed.
Dr. Hugh Bialecki
President, Save Our Forest Association