Stewart McMorrow, North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District
Stewart McMorrow, of the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District dedicates his life to environmental conservation. As the Forest Fuels Project Manager for the North Lake Tahoe Fire Department and an independent certified arborist Stewart utilizes his vast knowledge of forest ecology, community fire protection, and public outreach and education, as well as an expertise in using chainsaws, drip torches and chippers to help him accomplish the important conservation and community protection goals that make his work so fulfilling and important.
Stewart’s story began after he received his Forestry and Resource Management Degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1996. Soon after graduation Stewart found himself working as a sawyer on a Forest Service Hotshot crew fighting fires throughout the country. After an intense season of that demanding work Stewart moved to Humboldt County where he worked with Americorps doing salmon restoration projects which included conducting spawning and habitat surveys, and creating habitat for salmon. One of his biggest accomplishments while working with Americorps was the creation of “Creek Days”, which is an environmental education program geared toward the youth on the Humboldt region and is run by Americorps volunteers who set up educational stops, along creek-side trails. Still thriving to this day and sharing an appreciation of ecology and conservation, “Creek Days” takes local children on an educational walk in which they stop at the designated areas and learn about watersheds, forestry, and working forests. Stewart was and is very adamant regarding educating the public about “working forests” because he knows that when managed in a sustainable and environmentally appropriate manner, forests can be ecologically rich while simultaneously providing local economies with a strong and lasting foundation. After leaving Americorps Stewart began working for the Sanctuary Forest, which is a land trust located on the Upper Matole River in Humboldt County. As the educational director for the Sanctuary Forest, Stewart helped draft conservation easements for landowners in the area. As part of this work he taught local landowners about the incredibly important and effective conservation opportunities that they could take advantage of and utilize on their properties. In doing this he helped landowners maintain the environmental integrity and values of their property while also expanding the network of conservation centered properties in the Upper Matole River watershed and beyond.
During his time in the north coast Stewart created his own tree service, which he still continues today, for the purpose of helping landowners create defensible space and restore forest health. By using chainsaws and other forestry tools in his tree business, Stewart has been able to help countless people create and maintain defensible space around their home. In 2000, Stewart moved to the Lake Tahoe area where he worked for California State Parks as a wildlife program manager. In this role Stewart responsibilities included monitoring wildlife, doing aspen restoration projects, and practicing general forestry with a focus on habitat enhancement and restoration. In 2004, Stewart took a job with the Tahoe Conservancy as the Forest Project Manager. Stewart spent his time at the Tahoe Conservancy managing their forestry projects, which consisted of non-commercial thinning based on forest health criteria and creating defensible space around structures in the wildland urban interface. In 2007, Stewart began his current position as the Forest Fuels Project Manager at the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District. Today Stewart is responsible for coordinating the chipping program, a free service provided by the fire district which helps people create defensible space around their homes. Homeowners and tenants can remove flammable vegetation from their property and the fire districts five person crew will come out and chip the material. Stewart also provides defensible space inspections and tree removal permits for area residents.
Stewart views himself as the necessary provider of an important service that helps residents discover and achieve ecologically robust and practical defensible space. He understands the responsibility that comes with working in and around the Tahoe Basin and is always striking up conversations with area residents about forestry, forest ecology, aesthetics, and effective and responsible defensible space. Stewart has a lot of experience in meeting with landowners and discussing with them the relationship that exists between their small bit of forest and the larger landscape level environment. He understands that we live in a fire adapted ecosystem and is determined to help landowners make decisions regarding the management of their land that help make it firewise as well as ensure that their efforts fit into the bigger picture of forest health and enhancement. Stewart’s vast understanding of forest ecology and ecosystem services make him a valuable asset to the health and protection of Sierra Nevada forests and communities.
Here at Sierra Forest Legacy we are proud to highlight the work of Stewart McMorrow, who has tirelessly dedicated his life to the conservation and restoration of our forests and native ecosystems, as well as the protection and longevity our local communities. He is a perfect example of the work that can and should be done to effectively deal with the fire hazards that face our communities throughout the Sierra Nevada and we welcome him as a Sierra Supporter.