"There is increasing concern about the sustainability of our precious forest and rangelands, as the frequency
and severity of mega-disturbances from fire and pests increases, human population demands more from
and increases impacts on natural systems, and climate change continues. In California, events such as the
recent multi-year drought resulting in over 100 million dead forest trees across 7+ million acres call into
question current fire and land management policies and practices, and ultimately whether sustainability is
possible under a changing climate and growing population."
"For over 30 years, state law (PRC 4789) has mandated periodic assessments of California’s forest and rangeland resources. To meet this mandate assessments were produced in 1979, 1988, 1996 (Fire Plan), and 2003. In 2008, the Federal Farm Bill added a provision to federal law that required states to do assessments of forest resources. These assessments are to identify key issues and define the status and trends across all forest lands in each state. To the extent possible, spatial areas (called priority landscapes) are to be delineated that help focus investments and other programs to deal with associated issues. A separate document must also be prepared that presents strategies to address issues and priority landscapes identified in the assessment. The intent of the 2010 Forest and Range Assessment is to meet both the state and federal mandates, hence it covers both forest and rangeland resources, on private as well as publically managed lands.
In many ways, this assessment portrays a continuation of past trends of impacts from wildfire, development, forest pests, and exotic invasive species. However, there are also relatively new or markedly increasing potential threats from renewable energy infrastructure, off highway vehicle use, and climate change. Finally, traditional as well as new opportunities exist for shaping future conditions through emerging markets for biomass and other renewable energy sources; carbon, niche markets, and ecosystem services; innovative regional and local partnerships and strategies to conserve and manage open space and working landscapes for both commodity production and non-market benefits; and various tools, policies, programs and incentives to positively influence land management and use
"California’s forests and rangelands are a vast and cherished part of the state’s heritage and key to its future. These lands cover over 80 percent of the state and are set in the context of a largely urban population with distinct regional economies. These lands provide impressive biological diversity, scenic views, open space, wildlife habitat, recreation, timber, forage, and water. In recent decades, California’s economy has grown, diversified, and become integrated into global trade and competition. At the same time, population, income, and mobility have increased, creating greater demands for the goods and services provided by shrinking forests and rangelands.
How is it possible to understand all of the various dimensions of these lands? What policies will lead to optimal use of forest and rangelands while at the same time ensuring their long–term sustainability? The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and its partners provide this assessment as the basis of information for a continuing dialog to answer these questions."