EMIGRANT GAP, Placer County, Calif., June 2, 2003 — An estimated 640 acres of Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s federally regulated watershed lands were burned in the Gap Fire, which ravaged some 2,500 total acres in August 2001. The company has recently completed reforesting these devastated watershed lands with approximately 200,000 native seedlings.
“Pacific Gas and Electric Company is committed to preserving natural resources throughout our service area for the enjoyment of current and future generations of Californians,” said Robert L. Harris, PG&E’s vice president of environmental affairs. “Being a good steward of the land and an environmental leader means planning for the future, and ensuring that we have the resources available to protect — and in cases such as this — restore what fire has destroyed.”
As part of its commitment to environmental stewardship, Pacific Gas and Electric Company has been collecting and banking seeds from parent trees on the company’s 140,000 acres of forestland for more than 17 years.
Seeds are collected from conifer species in a given area. In fact, the company has banked more than 4 million seeds — enough to reforest about 10,000 acres. In the Gap Fire (Lake Valley) area, seeds have been collected from Jeffrey Pine, White Fir and Incense Cedar.
“By using seeds collected from the area being reforested, the trees have a better chance to survive and grow in the environment in which they have been genetically developed by their parent trees,” said Allan Newcomb, senior forester for Pacific Gas and Electric Company.
The cones of the parent trees are picked just before they ripen. Then the cones are put into burlap bags and sent to a seed processing facility Oregon. From there, the seeds are extracted from the cones, categorized according to seed zone and size, weighed, cataloged, and put into a freezer for safe keeping.
Immediately following the fire, the company had 200,000 native seeds sent to a nursery in Loomis, California, where they were germinated and grown for planting this spring. Approximately 400 seedlings will be planted per acre.
The 640 acres of burned watershed lands are part of the company’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) 2310 Drum-Spaulding Hydroelectric Project that includes facilities on the Bear River, South Yuba River and North Fork of the American River. The Drum-Spaulding Project includes 12 powerhouses, 30 reservoirs and 80 miles of flumes, tunnels and canals. The system has a capacity of more than 190 megawatts, generating 786 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year, enough electricity for more than 130,000 northern and central California homes. This clean, renewable source of electricity produces no greenhouse gases and avoids 123,000 tons of carbon emission annually.
For more information about Pacific Gas and Electric Company, please visit the company’s web site at www.pge.com