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To provide Cal Poly students, faculty, staff and the public with a unique interdisciplinary environment in which to foster the Learn by Doing philosophy by providing educational experiences on a working ranch, supporting diversified agriculture and forest resources while maintaining the integrity of ranch operations.

  —Our Mission

CalVTP Field Training: Covell Ranch Forest Health Fuels Reduction in the Wildland-Urban Interface

Thursday, May 26, 2022 9:00am to 12:00 in Cambria, California

Registration Closed

This intermediate-level training focused on the complexities associated with successfully permitting the Covell Ranch Forest Health Fuels Reduction Project in the WUI of Cambria, California. Attendees learned about the context and goals of managing a Monterey pine forest for wildland-urban interface fuel mitigation in the California's regulatory "coastal zone." Presenters discussed project-specific environmental permitting process alternatives and challenges. In addition to a tour of multiple vegetation treatment types (contrasting with no treatment controls), presenters addressed the challenges of community and stakeholder engagement. 

This 3 hour field workshop included standing and walking up to 2 miles on a fairly flat and well-graded unpaved and paved roads. 

Post-workshop attendee feedback:

This workshop couldn't have been more relevant for the type of work we have slated. This was one of the most practical workshops I've attended in years. Not only did a lot of my questions get answered, I was able to make a lot of needed professional connections.

The speakers were really excellent and the site/project offered a great variety of challenges to walk through. As a planning practitioner, this was a really great opportunity to connect with others navigating CalVTP so I can better serve my clients, who are trying to navigate the process. Thank you so much!

Great format that allowed for context, story-telling and building relationships.

Support Documents


Dan Turner, Executive Director of the San Luis Obispo County FireSafe Council, Fire Chief (ret)

Dan retired as Chief of CAL FIRE-San Luis Obispo after 37 years of service in San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz and Tulare counties. During Chief Turner’s career, as a Type 1 Incident Commander, he served in Incident Command on hundreds of major emergencies that include the Oakland Hills (Tunnel) fire, Loma Prieta Earthquake, and 9 other federally declared disasters. Since the 1991 Tunnel fire, Chief Turner has dedicated his career to making a difference in education and preparedness in reducing consequences of WUI fires.
Since retirement, Chief Turner is the Executive Director of the SLO County Fire Safe Council (a 501.c.3 non- profit organization) that conducts education, preparedness, outreach, and hazardous fuel reduction programs throughout San Luis Obispo County.
Chief Turner is a graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and currently serves as the Interim Director of Cal Poly’s Wildland Urban Interface FIRE Institute that focuses on education and research to reduce consequences from wildland urban interface fires. For Cal Poly, he coordinated the Wildland Urban Interface Fire Colloquium in California and Australia on behalf of the US Dept of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate; prepared a detailed study of Homeland Security and Emergency Management professionals and higher education programs throughout California for the CA Office of Emergency Services.

Steve Auten, Forester and Owner of Auten Resource Consulting

ARC owner and forester Steve Auten has managed forestland, chaparral, grassland, and riparian habitats on agricultural operations and large landownerships for over 21 years in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Mr. Auten is a Registered Professional Forester of 19 years with a master's degree in Forestry, focusing on wildfire tree mortality. He also holds a Bachelor of Science in Forestry with a concentration in Wildlife. Both degrees are from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
Upon graduation, Mr. Auten worked as a forester for Big Creek Lumber Company for 5 years and then worked as a forester and operations manager for Cal Poly Swanton Pacific Ranch for 14 years. ARC opened its doors on August 5th, 2019 with the intent of making a difference in forestry, fuels, and resource management in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Mr. Auten is well-versed in many aspects of land stewardship and operating on large ownerships under multiple resource disciplines that consider sensitive resources, evaluating operational infrastructure, prescribing and supervising land stewardship treatments, mapping, permitting, agency negotiations, long term planning and budgeting, rural facility and emergency management, sustainability and certification, and carbon analysis. His unique experiences in stewarding diverse and sensitive ecosystems while managing a balance of economic, social, and biological aspects make him and ARC the right choice for Wildfire Risk Reduction Assessments and/or Planning, Landscape Level Forest Health Fuel Reduction, and general forestry and land management services

Jonathon Gee, Forestry Assistant II, CAL FIRE San Luis Obispo

Graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2015 with a degree in Forestry and Natural Resource Management and a Minor in Geographic Information Systems. Started as an intern with San Luis Obispo County Fire in 2014 working on mapping and fuel reduction projects. In 2016 I started with CAL FIRE San Luis Obispo Unit as a Forestry Assistant II working on fuel reduction projects and the Vegetation Management Program. 

Brandon Sanderson, Environmental Specialist, CAL FIRE San Luis Obispo

Brandon Sanderson is the Environmental Specialist for Cal Fire’s San Luis Obispo Unit where he is responsible for natural resources management analysis, surveys, and studies involving fuel reduction projects, forest health concerns, and prescribed fire projects.
Brandon is a graduate of the University of California Santa Cruz Environmental Studies program with 18 years of experience working for multiple State departments within the CA Natural Resources Agency and Cal EPA including State Parks & Recreation, Water Resources Control Board, Department of Fish and Wildlife, and currently Cal Fire.
Considered a general ecologist, Brandon’s interest span birdwatching, herping, native plant identification, photography, fishing, backpacking, and introducing his two young children to the natural wonders of California’s Central Coast and beyond.

Andrew Johnson

Andrew has a B.S. in Forestry and Natural Resource Management from Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo with extensive experience in GIS, project design, budget management, project permitting, grant writing, implementation oversight, and sundry field data collection roles. He has managed broad ranging projects including soil health improvement, erosion control, agricultural water use, fire and wildland fuel management, carbon farm planning and more. 
Andrew has served as the co-chair of the San Luis Obispo Weed Management Area, represented the Upper Salinas-Las Tablas Resource Conservation District on the board of directors of the SLO Firesafe Council, and was the regional representative of the Joint Forestry Subcommittee for the California Association of RCDs. Andrew led the development of the California Coastal Commission Public Works Plan for the northern coast of San Luis Obispo County. The adoption of this plan allowed for the use of the Cal-VTP Programmatic Environmental Impact Report as a tool for proactive fuels reduction and forest health in San Luis Obispo County. 
In their free time Andrew and his wife can be found surfing on the central coast, rock climbing in the Sierra Nevada, or more realistically these days hanging out with their baby in their vegetable garden. Andrew's goal is to work toward resource protection while integrating natural resources management for human involvement. 


Time agenda item         
9:00am Training begins. Welcome!
  Presenter introductions & landowner objectives
  Engaging with the community and stakeholders
  Project history and challenges
  Environmental permitting
  Tour of vegetation treatments 
  Q&A with presenters (throughout)
12:00pm Field training complete



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