Two teams from Foresthill High School traveled to Leoni Meadows Resort, in Grizzly Flats, CA to compete in the El Dorado Forestry Challenge on Oct. 23-26th. The students competed against 32 other teams in this competition. The 2 person team of David Reinhart and Clay Cantrell earned 1st place in the competition. The all girl team of Heidi Lysen, Kelly Cantrell, Sloan Farinha, Noelle Payne and Josie Payne earned 8th place. Both teams earned over 200 points in the competition which qualifies each team for the state championships in Pinecrest, CA on April 15-17.

At this competition, on the first day, students learned forestry concepts and data collection techniques from forestry professionals. The next day, they participated in a field test on these concepts, as well as other forestry concepts that were studied prior to leaving for the competition. This portion of the competition was worth 60% of their score.

Students also participated in the monitoring of the Trestle Forest Health project. This is a 19,000 acre project in El Dorado National Forest that was aimed at reducing fuel loads in the area and making the forest more fire resilient.

Student teams collected data, such as height to first live branch, canopy cover, species composition,dbh and duff depth. All the data was combined and entered into a fire modeling program called Behave, that predicted flame length,, tree mortality and fire spread, based on their data and varying weather conditions. Students had to analyze the data and determine if the work that they were monitoring was following the guidelines set forth in the Trestle Health Project Environmental Impact Statement.

The students then had to come up with a presentation that explained their data, the process, their analysis and findings.  The students presented to a panel of judges on Saturday. The presentation was worth 40% of their score.

Both teams did an excellent job on both parts of the competition! The students worked incredibly hard for the 3 days that they were there, but did have some time to go on a Giant Swing and a zipline!

It was such a great opportunity for the kids to apply science, learn a lot and see how proper fuel management is essential in preventing catastrophic wildfires.  Overall, it was a fun and enjoyable experience had by all. Both teams hope to do well in the state competition in the spring!

Submitted by Katherine Cantrell

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