Healthy forests have low density, controlled ground cover, and ample room for all trees to thrive.

Healthy forests have low density, controlled ground cover, and ample room for all trees to thrive.

Healthy Forest Association

 The Forest Service along with local Big Bear agencies are charged with maintaining a fire-safe community for local residents and visitors. In addition, the Forest Service is responsible for keeping the National Forest lands safe and healthy for public use and recreations. Over the years many federal, state, and local plans and programs have been proposed to accomplish these mutual goals. Additional information about those various plans is available in the reference materials below.

In 2014 the U. S. Natural Resources Conservation Service (“NRCS”) implemented a new plan and provided funding to dramatically reduce fire fuels and forest density along the Southwest Shore of Big Bear Lake. For uninhabited areas, such as the Bluff Mesa area above the Southwest Shore Colony near the ridge-line of the mountain, the plan included extensive thinning of tree population and reduction of underbrush. For inhabited areas like the Southwest Shore Colony, the plan called for increased brush clearance, tree pruning, and other fire safety measures around each structure. (See Brush Removal Project)

NRCS awarded a conservation grant of $91,000 to cover the full costs of hiring a contractor to do the work for all cabins of the Southwest Shore area. To administer the grant funds, the affected Southwest Shore cabin owners created a new association, known as the Southwest Shore Healthy Forest Association (SWS-HFA). The HFA was responsible for receiving and disbursing grant funds, coordinating with the Forest Service and the contractor, and assisting cabin owners with any special requests or concerns. The SWS-HFA covered not only the cabins within the Southwest Shore Colony Historic District, but also approximately 20 additional non-Colony cabins located above the highway. Follow this link to read specific details about the scope and responsibilities of the SWS-HFA during the life of the NRCS "Healthy Forest" project.

The NRCS "Healthy Forest" project was completed, and most of the grant funds were spent, during 2014-2015. The residual funds were used in subsequent years through 2018 for annual removal of dead trees and brush as necessary. The SWS-HFA has now exhausted its grant funds, but our local Southwest Shore Association (SWSA) has an ongoing obligation to continue removing dead trees and eliminating potential fire fuel as necessary within our Southwest Shore boundaries, primarily below Highway 18. For additional information about our ongoing Southwest Shore Tree Management Program, please follow the link.

Reference Materials:

2018-07 Big Bear Valley Community Wildlife Protection Plan Addendum II July 2018
2014-03 NRCS Healthy Forest Reserve Program
2013-11 Southwest Shore Healthy Forest Association - Summary
2010-07 Maintaining Your Forest Care Plan
2009-09 Bluff Mesa Hazardous Fuels Reduction Plan
2007-11 USFS Open Space Conservation Strategy - Booklet
2007-06 Protecting Communities and Saving Forests - Booklet
2006-06 Big Bear Valley Community Wildlife Protection Plan