Almost exactly 40 years ago I watched plumes of smoke rise up from the Granite Creek fire near Cherry Lake. On August 26th I was standing in nearly the same spot watching the Rim Fire churn through some of the same forest. I had the sad understanding of what was being lost this time that as a young student I wasn’t able to grasp. In the 40 years since the Granite Creek fire I’ve camped, hunted, fished, and hiked through the Stanislaus National Forest and come to appreciate all that it offers.
As a result of the realization that something precious had been badly damaged I started the Tuolumne and Mariposa County Phoenix Project on Facebook. While the goals of the project are manifold, the fundamental goal is to ensure that we work together to restore and then manage our forest lands in such a way as we don’t have to witness this sort of fire again. In the past two weeks over 1,000 people have liked the Project’s page, and many have volunteered their services and expertise. Our work has just begun.
The intent of the Phoenix Project is to bring together scientists, motivated members of our community, stakeholders, existing non-profit groups, and the various state and federal agencies to ensure that we implement sound forest restoration and long-term management programs. Our group is, and will remain, non-political as we are all owners, stewards, and beneficiaries of our National Forest. We are focusing our energy into moving forward, not looking backward.
A healthy forest provides sustainable timber harvesting, numerous recreational activities, abundant habitat for plant and animal species, and quiet natural spaces. We will need substantial resources to accomplish this goal and that starts with the collaboration and input from the community and a wide variety of experts. If you would like to be a positive member of our Phoenix Project community, please visit our Facebook page to find out more about our group.