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Sunflower Coordinated Resource Management Program

Westside Region

The Sunflower Coordinated Resource Management Program

  • Location: Western Tehama County
  • Participants: Watershed landowners, Tehama County RCD, state and federal resource agencies
  • Time Frame: 1980–ongoing
  • Objectives:
    • reduce fuel loads and fire hazards
    • improve water sources for fire control, livestock, and wildlife
    • extend baseflow of perennial streams
    • improve wildlife habitat through a diverse, ìlow serial stageî ecosystem
    • provide education and demonstration on chaparral management

The Sunflower CRMP was created in 1980 as a state-supported, landowner-driven organization designed to enhance the environment of the Sunflower Flat area of western Tehama County. This area of concern encompasses 72,000 acres, 57,600 of which are privately held, while the remaining lands are federally managed. Many years of fire suppression policy have resulted in a chaparral landscape of overly dense and decadent brush species that are of poor quality for range and wildlife and are a constant threat for large catastrophic wildfires. The CRMP’s primary mission is to enhance 40,000 acres of chaparral belt land to make the area more productive and safe for the social, financial, and environmental needs of the watershed community. CRMP participants include 65 individual landowners and a variety of local, state, and federal resource agencies.

The holistic goal of the Sunflower CRMP is stated as: ìTo achieve something extraordinary for our area. To create a landscape that encourages people to enjoy our area and be happy and healthy. To work harmoniously with government agencies and neighboring businesses to achieve our common goal and respect each other’s individual goal and needs. To create a landscape that is sustainably healthy and fire safe (to protect crops, range, timber) so that all landowners may enjoy our landscape and profit from diverse enterprises that do not conflict with our quality of life.

Over the past 10 years the CRMP has accomplished a number of on-the-ground environmental improvement projects.

Fuel Breaks and Burns

  • Completed 87 miles of DFPZ, 300–500 feet wide, within the chaparral belt of the CRMP area. Two thousand acres of brush on either side of the DFPZ were crushed using a ball and chain and mastication.
  • Several thousand acres of controlled burns were completed in cooperation with the USFS, Cal Fire’s Vegetation Management Program, and BLM’s burn program.

Sunflower Water Development

  • Several springs were developed and two reservoirs (7 acre-feet and 10 acre-feet) were completed to provide fire protection and wildlife habitat water sources.

Herbivore Experiment

  • The CRMP organized and managed a large experimental herd (1,000–1,300 head) of meat goats and hair sheep to maintain fuel breaks and control burn areas. Working with Chico State University, the economic return from the animals was assessed as a means to cover the cost of managing the herd.

Several types of monitoring are in place to develop baseline data and determine the impact of brush treatment on non-game and game species, water quality, and general watershed condition.

Future goals for the Sunflower CRMP are to expand the developed system of chaparral management into neighboring counties of Shasta, Glenn, and Colusa. The CRMP is working with the Northern Region of Cal- Fire to develop an 80,000-acre ìEquipment/Operation/Fire Training and Safetyî area for training equipment operators and firefighters in the safe procedures for attacking inevitable wildfires. The vision is for a sustainable chaparral management program throughout the westside of the Sacramento River Basin that will continue long into the future.