Collaboration to Help the Community Recover from Fire
Lake County RCDs efforts to begin replacing some of the estimated seven million trees lost in the 2015 wildfires began rather modestly, with a donation of nearly 700 oaks and buckeyes from Mike Steen of Coyote Ridge Farms near Geyserville. Former East Lake RCD directors Dan Desmond and Bill Lincoln made several trips to collect the young seedlings, which were left in the care of interns Cody McNea and Jack Shrive at Lower Lake and Middletown High Schools, and Kecia Stickney of Frontier Farms in Coyote Valley. Thanks mostly to the efforts of NRCS staff, by late spring they had all been distributed to grateful survivors of the Rocky, Jerusalem and Valley Fires.
Restoring Trailside Park.
The East Lake RCD also collaborated with the Lake County Public Services Department to replant Trailside Park on the outskirts of Middletown. Although oaks and chaparral in the 120-acre park are recovering well on their own, there was almost no conifer regeneration. The county prepared a planting plan, labor was provided by Rotary members, high schools students and community volunteers. The East Lake RCD contributed 5,000 seedling conifers and coordinated project supervision.
At the same time, two Lake County-based non-profit organizations provided much-needed financial support to assist the Lake County RCD with a much larger reforestation effort involving conifer seedlings.
#LakeCountyRising was a collaborative fundraising effort of the Lake County Winegrape Commission, Winery Association, and Wine Alliance. The Lake Area Rotary Club Association (LARCA) is a non-profit foundation comprised of the 4 Rotary Clubs in Lake County – Lakeport, Middletown, Clearlake and Kelseyville. Together, these two entities allocated nearly $60,000 to the Lake County RCD to develop a reforestation program and plant conifer seedlings. Collaboration with the El Dorado/Georgetown Divide RCD’s established native plant seed collection and propagation program resulted in the planting of 100,000 native conifers – mostly Ponderosa pine but also some Douglas-fir and sugar pine. All seedlings were ready for distribution in time for the late 2017 planting season.
Discussions regarding funding for reforestation began when Greg Giusti, County Director and Forestry Advisor for UC Cooperative Extension, and Korinn Woodard, District Conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation District, began to formulate a plan that would make it possible to distribute seedling trees to private landowners as promptly as feasible. “We determined that 100,000 trees could be needed this first year,” Giusti said. “We knew getting the seeds ordered and in the planting medium during the winter was the only way to have seedlings ready for planting in late 2016, early 2017.”
#LakeCountyRising representatives were interested in helping to support the effort but knew that any donation would need to go through an established organization. At the same time, LARCA had also identified funding for reforestation efforts as a major priority.
That’s when the former East Lake RCD decided it could assist with bringing the monumental effort to fruition. “An experienced agency was needed to lead this effort, and our Board agreed that we had the experience and resources to make it happen, if funds were available.” East Lake RCD President Charlotte Griswold said. “The intention is to make conifer seedlings available for planting each winter for the next few years at a pace that will align with the community rebuilding process and demand”, said Griswold. “We expect to work with NRCS to start taking advance orders before the end of April and to partner with the Ag and Natural Resources programs at area high schools to organize several community planting projects.”
El Dorado RCD general manager Mark Egbert showing LCRCD Directors Bill Lincoln and Jim Bridges a few of the 100,000 conifer seedlings being raised for us at the US Forest Service nursery in Placerville, June 14, 2016. Photo courtesy Dan Desmond
Director Bill Lincoln jockeys the forklift as the RCD receives delivery of 100,000 conifer seedlings in the downpour of February 17, 2017
Hundreds of volunteers gather to replant part of Trailside Park in Middletown, March 25, 2017. Photo © Joe Dacanay
LCRCD board members heeling in 20,000 ponderosa pine seedlings for sale next winter, April 3, 2017. photo©Carol Lincoln