The start to the new year usually signals a season of new beginnings and growth. However, in 2021, many Californians find themselves unable to leave the previous years’ hardships in the rearview mirror. For the communities nestled in the Sierras and surrounding San Joaquin Valley, recovery continues at a steady pace after 2020’s unmatched fire season ravaged houses, ruined air quality, and jeopardized the plant and animal species of the Sequoia National Forest.
While repairing damage from the 380,000 acre Creek Fire and in preparation for upcoming wildfire seasons, the Sierra Resource Conservation District is doubling down on its proven community-led conservation and fire prevention efforts.
The Fresno County RCD has been hard at work preserving the long-term resilience of the land, water, and air for decades. Its collaborative approach offers a ray of hope as the West determines how to best navigate the area’s changing wildland urban interface.
A local approach to conservation: From the agricultural valley floor to high-reaching timberlands
Resource Conservation Districts were created to serve the local land user by providing the technical, financial, and educational resources they would need to thrive on the land. The Sierra District’s unique biodiversity and land-uses give conservationists the chance to work with many different communities in creating localized solutions that protect the watershed, wildlife, air quality, and soil.
SRCD fosters collaboration from the valley floor upwards by equipping community members and private landowners with the tools and information they need to benefit from and conserve resources.
Preventing Fire Damage, Together
Living in the mountains promises an astonishing array of lilac sunsets, endless views, and serenades by mountain chickadees. Unfortunately, residents have also come to expect the promise of wildfire in the hot, dry months. Through its Firesafe Fuels and Reduction Program, SRCD helps landowners establish defensible areas on their properties and addresses the hazards of dead trees at no cost.
A number of homes in the path of the Creek Fire were spared thanks to the Firesafe team’s incredible efforts in the Spring of 2020. SRCD helped to prepare local properties as best as possible, a model of collaboration that’s becoming increasingly important for communities across the West.
Although images of the blazes that swept through Eastern Fresno and Madera counties were national news in September, once the media attention faded residents affected by disaster were left to begin the difficult task of recovery alone. If the cameras that captured the heroic rescues near Shaver Lake were still pointed to the mountains, they would broadcast the equally selfless work of rebuilding.
SRCD and other local groups recently mobilized dozens of volunteers to reverse soil erosion caused by the fires, and are continuing to build resilience in the hardy mountain towns of the Sierra for years to come.
When science meets compassion, and biodiversity meets community outreach, that’s where we find solutions. That’s where you’ll find the Sierra Resource Conservation District, stewarding a healthy future for all since 1957.