CAL FIRE Humboldt - Del Norte Unit Programs

Unit Aviation Program

The CAL FIRE Humboldt-Del Norte Unit (HUU) Aviation Program consists of the Rohnerville Air Attack Base which was established in 1964 and the Kneeland Helitack Base which was established in 1982.  The HUU Aviation Program serves the people of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties as well as parts of Mendocino, Trinity and Siskiyou Counties including the Six Rivers, Shasta Trinity, Klamath and Mendocino National Forests.  These aircraft and personnel serve the citizens of the above mentioned areas and all of the people of California, protecting 31 million acres of state and privately owned wildland properties. 

The Rohnerville Air Attack Base is located on the outskirts of Fortuna at the south end of the Rohnerville Airport (KFOT).  The base has two firefighting aircraft assigned from June thru the month of October .

The aircraft assigned are an OV-10 Bronco, Air Attack 120 and the Grumman S-2T Air Tanker, Tanker 96.  The OV-10 is utilized as an aerial supervision platform to transport an Air Tactical Group Supervisor (CAL FIRE Chief and Company Officers) whose duties are to safely supervise and direct firefighting aircraft on emergency incidents.  The S-2T carries 1200 gallons of fire retardant (PHOS-CHEK MVP FX) which is dropped from the aircraft to help ground crews slow and extinguish the advancing fire spread.

The Kneeland Helitack Base is situated next to the Kneeland Airport (K019) 12 miles east of the town of Eureka.

The aircraft assigned to is the Bell UH-1H “Super Huey” helicopter, Copter 102.  Copter 102 transports CAL FIRE Firefighters to the emergency incidents and has the capability to be used for fire suppression (water bucket and logistical support) or medical and air rescue assistance.  Copter 102 is housed at the Rohnerville Air Attack Base during the winter months but is available for dispatch to all types of incidents, most recently supporting rescue operations during the Tsunami in 2010 and floods of 2008.  The helicopter is routinely used for air rescue and medical response year round..

The use of these aircraft on emergency incidents allows for a quick response to areas that can take hours for ground resources to make access due to rural and remote areas that they cover state wide.  Additionally these aircraft play an extremely important role in wildland fire suppression, providing quick initial attack and supporting CAL FIRE’s goal to keep 95% of California wildland fires to 10 acres or less.

During the peak of wildland fire season (from June to October) the CAL FIRE HUU Aviation Program consists 34 State and Contract employees.  There are 8 permanent (1 Battalion Chief, 2 Helicopter Pilots and 5 Fire Captains) and 22 seasonal CAL FIRE Firefighters assigned.  There are also 3 contract employees from DynCorp Intl. whom supply the pilots and mechanic for the OV-10 and S-2T Tanker at Rohnerville.

As mentioned earlier, CAL FIRE aircraft respond to emergency incidents state wide and it is not uncommon for the HUU Aviation Program aircraft to respond to incidents out of the area when needed.  However the main area of focus is the protection of life and the 3,905,572 acres of private property that makes up the Humboldt-Del Norte Unit response area.

CAL FIRE and the Humboldt-Del Norte Unit’s Aviation Program financial contribution to the county and local businesses is immense and in the thousands of dollars.  The county and Rohnerville Airport directly benefits with landing and fuel flow fees that can range from 15 to 30 thousand dollars a year.  The associated expenses that are incurred by the bases are numerous for their continuous operation. Local businesses and vendors are utilized for services and supplies, it is hard to put a direct figure on what the monetary benefit is but the positive impact the bases have on the local economy is well worth noting.

In summary the CAL FIRE Humboldt-Del Norte Unit’s Aviation Program has benefited from its positive relationship with Humboldt County, the Department of Public Works and the use of the airports in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties.  CAL FIRE will continue to utilize the bases at both the Rohnerville and Kneeland Airports to support the Departments mission. 

Camp Program

Eel River Camp near Redway, High Rock Camp near Weott, and Alder Camp near Klamath provide 5 inmate fire crews per camp to perform fire suppression and resource conservation work throughout the year. These minimum security camps are operated in cooperation with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Conservation work is performed on California State Parks land, in Redwood National Park, along county roads, for other local government cooperators, and implementing SRA fuels reduction projects.

Agreements -
We have agreements with Humboldt County to provide year-round, single engine “Amador” coverage for CSA #4 – the area north of McKinleyville to Freshwater Lagoon along US Highway 101. Included in that agreement are dispatching services for the rural county fire departments. Arcata Fire Protection District also contracts with us for dispatching.

We provide wildland fire protection for BLM lands and BIA administered ownerships within HUU. We share resources with the Six Rivers National Forest, Redwood National Park, and the Hoopa Wildland Fire agency, based upon a closest available resources model.

Fire Prevention and Planning

Unit prevention efforts include fair exhibits, community fire safe day exhibitions, burn and 4290 permit procedures, fire patrols, news media releases, public service announcements, structure and dooryard premise inspections, and an active board member on the Humboldt County Fire Safe Council. The Units goals are to reduce ignitions/fires through Education, Information, Planning, and Enforcement. By increasing awareness, knowledge and actions implemented by individuals and communities to reduce human loss and property damage from wildland fires, such as defensible space and other fuels reduction projects, Fire Prevention and fire safe building standards. Fire prevention programs are coordinated to the greatest extent possible with fire safe councils and local fire departments. While implementing these goals the Units objective is to see the ignitions of fires reduced in the Unit.

The HUU Strategic Fire Plan is developed by the Planning Battalion through a collaborative process that includes: CAL FIRE field battalions, fire prevention, administration staff, county and local Fire Safe Councils, and cooperating agencies. The Unit Chief provides direction on how the Unit endeavors to meet the key goals of the Strategic Fire Plan for California. The field and administrative battalions provide localized and program plans towards meeting those objectives. Implementation is directed by the field battalion chiefs and camp chiefs for daily operations.

Vegetation Management

The Vegetation Management Program (VMP) is a cost-sharing program utilizing prescribed fire and mechanical means, for addressing wildland fire fuel hazards and other resource management issues on State Responsibility Area (SRA) lands. The use of prescribed fire mimics natural processes, restores fire to its historic role in wildland ecosystems, and provides significant fire hazard reduction benefits that enhance public and firefighter safety. VMP allows private landowners to enter into a contract with CAL FIRE to use prescribed fire to accomplish a combination of fire protection and resource management goals. The projects which fit within HUU’s priority areas (e.g., those identified through the Fire Plan) and are considered to be of most value to the unit are those that will be completed.

Environmental Review

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires public agencies to consider actions on projects that may directly or indirectly result in a physical change in the environment. CAL FIRE provides resource management and fire safe comments on proposed discretionary projects routed through the county/city planning process and from the State Clearinghouse. Where projects cannot meet fire safe standards, CAL FIRE provides expert analysis on proposed project alternatives. For discretionary projects where CAL FIRE funds, approves, permits, facilitates or carries out a project as lead agency, it is obligated to ensure that the appropriate steps are taken in complying with CEQA by preparing an environmental review. The Planning Battalion
manages the Unit’s environmental review program.

Fire Safe Council / Firewise Support

The Planning Battalion provides staff support for local and county-wide Fire Safe Councils within the Unit. They attend meetings, develop materials, and fill an expert role on fire safe practices. The Unit has provided chipper support and other in-kind match value to local councils seeking grant funding. CAL FIRE, in the role of the State Forester, reviews and is a signatory to local Community Wildfire Protection Plans.

Fuels Treatment and Grant Management

Fuels treatment projects conducted by CAL FIRE staff are monitored by the Planning Battalion. The three conservation camps manage their own projects and sponsors. However, projects involving Sudden Oak Death, grants to CAL FIRE, and SRA Fire Prevention Fee(FPF) funding are administered by the Planning Battalion to ensure consistent reporting. CAL FIRE also reviews grant applications for local fire departments, fire safe councils, and Firewise communities.

Geographic Information Systems Support / Mapping

Map development using GIS is provided by the Planning Battalion. This includes incident support, response maps, jurisdictional information, demographic analysis, and numerous other mapping products that can be generated. Unit level CAL FIRE digital data sets are developed and maintained by the HUU Pre-Fire Engineer.

HUU Strategic Fire Plan

Resource Management Program Overview

California is rich in natural resources. Of the 85 million acres classified as wildlands, nearly 17 million are commercial forest land, half privately-owned and half government-owned. This forest land grows 3.8 billion board feet yearly. Approximately 2 billion board feet of timber is harvested per year, with a value of over $1 billion. In addition to timber, the state's wildlands also provide valuable watershed, wildlife habitat, and recreation resources.

Maintaining the sustainability of all these natural resources is the goal of the CAL FIRE Resource Management Program. The Department achieves this goal by administering state and federal forestry assistance programs for landowners, demonstrating sound management practices on eight demonstration state forests, enforcing the California Forest Practice Act on all non-federal timberlands, providing research and educational outreach to the public on forest pests such as Sudden Oak Death, and coordinating efforts for fuel reduction to reduce the risk of fire and improve the quality of California ecosystems.

CAL FIRE's mission emphasizes the management and protection of California's natural resources. The Resource Management Program is an integral part of that responsibility.

The Humboldt - Del Norte Unit (HUU) houses Resource Management Staff Specialists supervised at the Sacramento level, local Forest Practice Inspectors and HUU State Responsibility Area (SRA) Forestry Staff. The HUU Forest Practice Staff consist of thirteen foresters and one Associate State Archeologist. HUU SRA Forestry Staff consists of one forester. Sacramento Forestry Staff consist of one Urban Forester, one Forest Pest Specialist and one Forestry Assistance Program Specialist.

Forest Practice Program

The HUU Forest Practice Staff’s primary duties include reviewing commercial timber operations on non-federal lands. The unit conducts over 1,000 forest practice inspections a year. During these inspections Resource Management Foresters inspect legal and potentially illegal timber operations for conformance with forest and fire laws. It is the Department's policy to pursue vigorously the prompt and positive enforcement of the Forest Practice Act, the forest practice rules, related laws and regulations, and environmental protection measures applying to timber operations on the non-federally owned lands of the state. This enforcement policy is directed primarily at preventing and deterring forest practice violations, and secondarily at prompt and adequate correction of violations when they occur.

Timber Harvesting Plans (THPs) are submitted to CAL FIRE for all commercial forest harvesting operations on nonfederal timberlands. Registered Professional Foresters (RPF) must prepare harvest documents, and Licensed Timber Operators (LTO) must carry out timber operations. Interagency review teams review the THPs to determine compliance with rules. Landowners are required to replant after harvesting, if necessary, to meet prescribed stocking standards. A Timberland Conversion Permit is required from the Director of CDF to convert timberland to non-timber growing uses.

Public Resource Code (PRC) Section 4526 defines “Timberland” as nonfederal land "available for, and capable of, growing a crop of trees of any commercial species used to produce lumber and other forest products."

Unless specifically exempted by law, all timber operations must comply with the following:

1. Obtaining a timber operator license.
2. Having a valid harvest permit or submitting an exemption from the THP.
3. Meeting the appropriate stocking requirements.
4. Obtaining a conversion permit if a change to non-timber growing land use is intended.
5. Complying with all other applicable requirements

The Forest Practice Program strives to maintain the maximum sustained production of high-quality timber products and water quality while protecting areas of recreation, watershed, wildlife, range, and fisheries. The program encourages the aesthetic enjoyment of wildland and the retention of good-quality timberland in timber growing, harvesting, and compatible forest related uses. In addition, the program informs each timber owner and each operator before he/she harvests a timber of the fire risks and hazards directly associated with timber operations, particularly emphasizing fire hazard reduction requirements, and all applicable fire laws.

The Unit Forester for the Humboldt-Del Norte Unit is Ray Wedel. He can answer questions about the forest practice program. Ray can be contacted by email  or phone (707)-726-1253.

For more information, visit CAL FIRE’s website:

Forestry/Landowner Assistance

CAL FIRE administers several state and federal forestry assistance programs with the goal of reducing wildland fuel loads and improving the health and productivity of private forest lands and expanding and improving management of trees and related vegetation in urban communities across California. The Forest Stewardship Program and California's Forest Improvement Program (CFIP) offer cost-share opportunities to assist individual landowners with land management planning, conservation practices to enhance wildlife habitat, and practices to enhance the productivity of the land. The Urban & Community Forestry Program provides technical expertise, education and grant funding to create and maintain sustainable urban forests. Utilizing experts in forest pests and diseases, the Forest Health Management Program provides information to landowners and makes recommendations to the Board of Forestry regarding the health of California's forests. The L.A. Moran Reforestation Center specializes in cone processing and seed storage providing a vital, long-term depository for private and corporate landowners for their future seedling needs.

California Forest Stewardship Program:

The California Forest Stewardship Program was created to encourage good stewardship of California's private forestland. The program provides technical information and assistance to landowners to promote sound forest management, and assists communities in solving forest-related issues. The Department delivers the Forest Stewardship Program which combines funds from state and federal sources to assist communities with multiple-ownership watershed and community issues related to pre-fire fuels treatment, forest health, erosion control, and fisheries issues.

California Forest Improvement Program:

The purpose of the California Forest Improvement Program (CFIP) program is to encourage private and public investment in, and improved management of, California forest lands and resources. This focus is to ensure adequate high quality timber supplies, related employment and other economic benefits, and the protection, maintenance, and enhancement of a productive and stable forest resource system for the benefit of present and future generations.

The program scope includes the improvement of all forest resources including fish and wildlife habitat, and soil and water quality. Cost-share assistance is provided to private and public ownerships containing 20 to 5,000 acres of forest land. Cost-shared activities include management planning, site preparation, tree purchase and planting, timber stand improvement, fish and wildlife habitat improvement, and land conservation practices.

The Humboldt-Del Norte Unit is served by CAL FIRE’s Region I Forestry Assistance Program Specialist Jim Robbins. Jim is the CFIP and Forest Stewardship Program contact for Humboldt, Del Norte, and the western portion of Trinity County. He can answer questions about current cost-share programs. Jim can be contacted by email or phone (916)-224-8761.

For more information, visit CAL FIRE’s website:

Urban & Community Forestry Program:

Under the authority of theCalifornia Urban Forestry Act (PRC 4799.06 - 4799.12) the Urban & Community Forestry Program works to expand and improve the management of trees and related vegetation in communities throughout California.
The mission of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's Urban and Community Forestry Program is to lead the effort to advance the development of sustainable urban and community forests in California. Trees provide energy conservation, reduction of storm-water runoff, extend the life of surface streets, improve local air, soil and water quality, reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide, improve public health, provide wildlife habitat and increase property values. In short, they improve the quality of life in our urban environments which, increasingly, are where Californians live, work, and play.

Six Regional Urban Foresters provide expert urban forestry support to communities, non-profit groups and other municipal governments to create and maintain sustainable urban forests. These specialists also administer and provide technical support for grants that are offered for activities such as tree planting, municipal tree inventories and management plans, urban forest educational efforts, urban wood utilization, and innovative urban forestry projects. These grants utilized to assist communities throughout California advance their urban forestry efforts.

The Humboldt-Del Norte Unit is served by CAL FIRE’s Urban & Community Forestry Program San Francisco Bay / North Coast Regional Specialist Jimi Scheid. He is the local contact for Humboldt and Del Norte Counties. Jimi can be contacted by email, cell phone – (415) 265-9059 or fax phone (707) 576-2574.

For more information on services provided, grant details or to learn about cooperators and related tools, please visit the program webpage at:



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