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Environmental review pathways to long-term success: prescribed fires

Thursday, April 6th, 2023 10:00am-12:00pm

This was an opportunity to learn about environmental review pathways to make prescribed fires successful. Participants improved their understanding of how to get prescribed fires accomplished.
CAL FIRE Battalion Chief, Marshall Turbeville, explained how the environmental review process may differ depending on the project. Senior Environmental Scientist with Permit Sonoma, Robert Aguero, outlined a basic introduction to The California Environmental Act (CEQA) and which environmental review pathway may be best for a project. Vegetation Management Coordinator at Sonoma County Ag and Open Space, Kim Batchelder, provided case studies to illustrate the positive value of using the California Vegetation Treatment Program (CalVTP) to accomplish wildfire resiliency efforts. Stewardship Director at Sonoma Land Trust, Bob Neale, shared Sonoma Land Trust's experience with the CalVTP and lessons learned along the way. 
Webinar Agenda
Time Item
10:00am Webinar begins, presenter introductions
  Marshall Turbeville: Demystifying "Environmental Review" for Prescribed Burning

Robert Aguero: CEQA Primer for Vegetation Management Treatments and the Role of a Lead Agency

  Kim Batchelder: Promoting large-scale vegetation management treatments through a grant program – role of a public funder
  Bob Neale: VTP as a Tool for Nonprofit Land Managers – Lessons We are Learning


11:30am Bob Neale, Robert Aguero, Kim Batchelder, Marshall Turbeville: 3 case studies
12:00pm Webinar ends


Marshall Turbeville, Battalion Chief, CAL FIRE

Marshall Turbeville is a CAL FIRE Battalion Chief in the Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit, overseeing three CAL FIRE stations in Sonoma County.  He began working for the CAL FIRE in 1995 as a seasonal fire fighter while attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.  Marshall graduated from Cal Poly in 1998 and 2000 with Bachelor of Science degrees in Civil Engineering and Forestry and Natural Resources.  Marshall accepted a full time position in 2000.  He worked in Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit's Pre-Fire Division from 2004 to 2009 where he combined his forestry education and firefighting experience, learned GIS, and gained experience completing environmental reviews for prescribed burning.  He also maintained the Unit's Fire Plan, helped Firesafe Councils, and served as a fire investigator.  Marshall promoted to his current position in 2009.  He is a fire behavior analyst and has implemented prescribing burning in varying vegetation, topography, and weather conditions.  Marshall has responded to wildfire incidents throughout the State and was a member of CAL FIRE's Incident Management Teams for 10 years.  He instructs at the Santa Rosa Junior College in the Natural Resources Management and Fire Technology departments and participates on several CAL FIRE instructional cadres. 

Robert Aguero, Senior Environmental Specialist, County of Sonoma

Robert Aguero is a senior environmental specialist with Permit Sonoma, Sonoma County's consolidated land use planning and development permitting agency. Virtually any land development or construction that takes place in the unincorporated area of Sonoma County (outside the nine incorporated cities) is reviewed, permitted, and inspected by Permit Sonoma. He is a Registered Professional Forester and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry and Natural Resource Management from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Robert began his career working for CAL FIRE at Jackson Demonstration State Forest in Mendocino County before joining an environmental consulting firm in Sonoma County. As a consultant, Robert helped landowners achieve land management objectives and navigate complex regulatory systems. He has worked across a variety of ecosystems and forests in California on pre-fire planning projects and post-fire damage assessments. Robert joined the County of Sonoma in 2019, where he has provided environmental review and permitting assistance to the public and other government agencies and programs, especially in the realm of wildfire planning and project implementation.

Kim Batchelder, Vegetation Management Coordinator, Sonoma County Ag and Open Space 

Kim began his career managing Wilderness Areas in Colorado, then reforestation projects in rural Costa Rica, followed by forest management certification from Mexico to Chile, before working in sustainable forest management for The Nature Conservancy – Mexico. He finally landed in Sonoma County in 2005 to help protect and manage fee lands and create trails like the North Sonoma Mountain and Healdsburg Ridge Open Space Preserves for Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District. Now, Kim is the Vegetation Management Coordinator to assist Sonoma County to develop tools and treatments to improve the health and resiliency of the county’s landscapes while protecting communities from large-scale wildfire events. He manages the Vegetation Management Grant Program and collaborating with County agencies, local non-profits and fire services agencies to determine the best way to use $25 Million dedicated to vegetation management from a PG&E Settlement with the County after the 2017 wildfires. Kim received his Bachelors degree in Biology and Environmental Conservation from University of Colorado at Boulder and a Masters in Forestry from Duke University.

Bob Neale, Stewardship Director, Sonoma Land Trust  

Bob Neale is the Stewardship Director at Sonoma Land Trust. Bob has led the development and growth of Sonoma Land Trust’s stewardship program since 2004, a time during which the active management of our natural lands has become a primary focus of the conservation community. Since 2017, much of the land management work has focused on forest and woodland management, wildfire resiliency, and adapting to climate change. He is fortunate to have great colleagues to work with and learn from, and spectacular landscapes to wander across, now and throughout his career. A California native, he graduated with a BA in creative writing from San Francisco State University.  He began his career in conservation at Peninsula Open Space Trust and spent five-years at Sustainable Conservation in their Partners in Restoration program before moving north to Sonoma County. On a good spring day, he may be found among serpentine wildflowers contemplating what he is doing with his “one wild and precious life.”

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