Responding to the Kincade Fire

Dear Friends,

Once again, all of our lives have been upended by the chaos generated by fire. Once again, we find ourselves struggling to adequately express the enormous debt of gratitude we owe our first responders. We are immensely thankful that there was no loss of life this time, though saddened that some members of our community have lost their homes. We are weary of the disruptions to our families and our mission that such dangerous wildfires cause — and also worried about what the future holds. I’m sure you are, too.

While our first impulse is to roll up our sleeves and get out on the land to see how it coped, our staff’s safety is paramount. Two of our wildest preserves — Bear Canyon and White Rock — burned significantly and our Knights Valley preserves — Laufenburg and Live Oaks — thankfully did not. We will learn more as soon as our stewardship staff is permitted to access these properties.

Despite these new impacts to our lands, we remain hopeful for the future. We learned a lot as a community from the 2017 fires. This time around, we were better prepared — especially our public agencies and first responders that worked so effectively to stop the fire from spreading toward the coast, kept us all informed and cared for the many residents who were evacuated.

Here at Sonoma Land Trust, we learned a lot, too, about managing land for fire — and we have solutions to offer. We know that when we prepare and do the right things, we can reduce the negative impacts of wildfire. We are working with our neighbors, our communities and local fire officials to develop practical approaches for healthy lands, people and nature. As one example, the Sonoma Valley Wildlands Collaborative that we helped convene after the 2017 fires is working together on the ground to reduce the risks and impacts of wildfire across 17,000 acres. We believe the Collaborative will become a model for other communities to follow.

What we know for sure is that fire is part of our life and landscapes, in the past, present and future — and science-based land management remains one of the best ways of reducing the risks of wildfire and other consequences of climate change.

We fundamentally believe, after four decades of protecting land, in the power of nature to heal itself and to benefit our communities. We are redoubling our efforts to acquire lands to manage for fire safety for people and wildlife, and to protect more open space and park lands because, when the land is healthy, our community is healthy.

Many have asked how they can help. If you are able to give, your donation will help us address the fire impacts on our land, and work on ongoing and innovative land protection and restoration projects. Your support of Sonoma Land Trust ensures that the lands we protect and manage help keep our community safe and healthy.

Thank you for loving the land of Sonoma County.

Eamon O’Byrne
Executive Director