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Project Development and Regulatory Sequencing for Wildfire Grants

Tuesday, October 17th, 9:00am - 12:30pm

This webinar was an opportunity to learn about CAL FIRE grants and any public funding that goes toward fuels reduction projects from representatives at Rincon Consultants, CAL FIRE, and the San Luis Obispo County Fire Safe Council. Participants increased their understanding of project development and regulatory sequencing as it applies to grant funded fuels reduction projects in California. 

Lexi Journey, MESM, Senior Planner at Rincon Consultants, gave an overview of the different CEQA pathways and developing the appropriate approach to properly scope and cost your wildfire prevention project when applying for CAL FIRE grant funding. Andrew Johnson, Senior Wildfire Planner at Rincon Consultants, explored the permitting and regulatory pathways to project implementation for two commonplace wildfire hazard reduction projects. Stephanie Lopez, Supervising Biologist/ISA Certified Arborist at Rincon Consultants, discussed the biological resource impact analysis when the project is for vegetation management. Chris Purtell, RPA, Senior Archaeologist at Rincon Consultants, focused on demystifying cultural resources. His presentation helped unravel the complexities surrounding cultural resources, empowering project managers and/or grant administrators to navigate these regulations with confidence and clarity. Brad Weisshaupt, Deputy Forester Los Angeles County Fire Department, spoke about the need for grantees to build in monies within the grant application to hire consultants to make sure the project goes through proper environmental review. Dan Turner, Executive Director, San Luis Obispo County Fire Safe Council, provided tips, tricks, and traps learned by local not for profit Fire Safe Council through 25 years of successfully managing grant funded projects. 

Webinar Agenda
Time Item
9:00am Webinar begins
  Lexi Journey, MESM: Wildfire Prevention Projects: Regulatory Compliance - Often Overlooked and Underfunded 
  Andrew Johnson: Real World Scenarios: A Two Act Performance 
  Stephanie Lopez: Assessing Biological Resources for Wildfire Prevention Projects 
  Chris Purtell, RPA: Demystifying Cultural Resources
11:05am Break
  Brad Weisshaupt: Planning and Lead Agency Capacity
  Dan Turner: Local Fire Safe Council Perspective and Lessons Learned
12:30pm Webinar ends


Lexi Journey, MESM, Senior Planner at Rincon Consultants

Ms. Journey is a Senior Environmental Planner within Rincon’s Environmental and Land Use Planning Group. Ms. Journey ‘s experience includes project management, planning policy analyses, stakeholder outreach, and technical analyses, for assignments such as CEQA compliance, Community Wildfire Protection Plans, General Plan Safety Elements, and Fuel Mitigation and Fire Management Plans. She leads Rincon’s Wildfire Management Team and uses her wide breadth of planning expertise to teach Principles and Practice of Environmental Planning at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management.

Recently, she has managed various projects including the Ventura County Community Wildfire Protection Plan, Bell Canyon Community Wildfire Protection Plan, Fillmore Community Wildfire Protection Plan, Garland Ranch Regional Park Fuel Mitigation and Fire Management Plan, and various Safety Element updates requiring approval from the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection. She has been working closely with local agencies such the Ventura Regional Fire Safe Council, Ventura County Resource Conservation District, Bell Canyon Fire Safe Council, and CAL FIRE to obtain CAL FIRE grant funding for projects. Her broad range of expertise provides value to her clients throughout the life cycle of a project from obtaining grant funding, to planning, to environmental compliance, and implementation. Her passion is to use her broad range of project management experience to develop implementation programs focused on wildfire prevention and carbon sequestration.

Andrew Johnson,  Senior Wildfire Planner at Rincon Consultants 

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 Fire Safe 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. Andrew has worked as a member of the Rincon Consultants Wildfire Protection team to develop seven Community Wildfire Protection Plans for central coast communities, and has successfully written nearly $5 million dollars in grants for environmental improvement projects in his career.

Stephanie Lopez, Supervising Biologist/ISA Certified Arborist at Rincon Consulatants

Ms. Lopez serves as a Supervising Biologist and Project Manager under Rincon’s Biological Services group. Her responsibilities include leading teams of biologists and environmental scientists in the execution of field surveys, and in data and impacts analysis to meet CEQA requirements. Her experience includes field surveys for endangered species, general biological surveys, resource constraints analyses, protected tree inventories and reporting, habitat evaluation, and habitat restoration. She leads Rincon’s Wildfire Management services for natural resources including assessing impacts related to fire fuel reduction/vegetation management and related mitigation measures, implementing CWPPs, preparation of grant applications for funding from CAL FIRE, protection of sensitive wildlife and flora during vegetation removal. She has expertise with acquiring and implementing agreements/permits from the United States Army Corps of Engineers, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Regional Water Quality Control Boards, California Department of Fish and Game and the California Coastal Commission.

Chris Purtell, RPA, Senior Archaeologist at Rincon Consultants

Christopher is a senior archaeologist and cultural resources project manager with over 18 years of professional experience in project management, environmental compliance, subcontracting, archaeological survey, excavation, monitoring, data recovery, laboratory analysis, and in the development of mitigation and treatment plans; as well as over 15 years of experience as a Principal Investigator in a decision-making capacity on cultural resources projects in California, Washington, and Oregon. Christopher has undertaken and contributed to work efforts for prehistoric and historic archaeological and paleontological investigations in the Great Basin, Mojave Desert, Central, Southern, and Northern California pursuant to CEQA, NEPA, and Sections 106 and 110 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

Christopher has successfully coordinated cultural resource mitigation recommendations with a variety of lead and regulatory agencies, including CAL FIRE, Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Vegetation Management Unit, County of Los Angeles County and County of Ventura, and he has obtained Field Permits under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act from the Department of Interior, USACE, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Bureau of Land Management, among others. Christopher is a Registered Professional Archaeologist, and his training and background exceeds the Secretary of the Interior’s Professional Qualifications Standards as a Principal Investigator and Field Director for prehistoric and historic archaeology.

Brad Weisshaupt, Deputy Forester Los Angeles County Fire Department

Brad Weisshaupt currently serves as the Deputy Forester overseeing the Fire Plan Unit of the Forestry Division for LA County Fire Department. In this role he is also the Cal Fire Pre-Fire Engineer for LA County Fire. This position helps manage and budget fuel reduction projects throughout LA County, in accordance with the Local and State Fire Plan. He has been with LA County Fire for seventeen years in many capacities from RAWS tech to Fuel Modification plan reviewer. He has also served as GIS on CIIMT 5 and GIS/ SITL(t) on LA County IMT2 (type 3).

Dan Turner, Executive Director, San Luis Obispo County Fire Safe Council

Dan is the Executive Director of the San Luis Obispo County Fire Safe Council (SLO FSC) following a 37 year career with CAL FIRE where he retired as the Chief of CAL FIRE San Luis Obispo. During the formation stages, Dan was the Interim Director of the Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo Wildland Urban Interface FIRE Institute. Dan’s has completed undergraduate and graduate work in Natural Resource, Forest Science, and Emergency Management.

The 32 member Board of Directors of the SLO FSC, a very diverse group of countywide wildfire public and private stakeholders, has been successful in identifying and managing more than 200 treatment, education, and planning projects using more than $20 million in grant funding from a variety of sources.  Treatment projects in forest, woodland, shrubland, and riparian landscapes (including in the Coastal Zone) that require extensive environmental and cultural planning and assessment prior to implementation.

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