The Rim Fire that burned through one of the prettiest parts of California is now 80 percent contained, yet 96 percent Tuolumne River Watershed -- home to rafters, wildlife, and tourist attractions -- has been ruined. But it's time to quit your mourning and start helping to rebuild this scenic landmark.
The Tuolumne River Trust, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that works to protect the watershed area near Yosemite National Park, is giving you that opportunity with its Rim Fire Recovery Campaign launched yesterday. The plan is to gather up volunteers, money, and resources from the feds to help restore the Tuolumne River to some level of normalcy.
Here's how the nonprofit explains it:
The fire has burned through habitat for precious wildlife and left unstable dead trees and bare soil, primed for erosion," according to the nonprofit. "Whitewater rafting companies and other local business have lost business at the height of the tourist season, and thousands of people who have enjoyed family trips to the Berkeley Tuolumne and other family camps are mourning.
As the battle against the blaze continues, we have launched our Rim Fire Recovery Campaign to help with the restoration and ensure sound forest and watershed management in the aftermath of this massive fire. Our recovery efforts will focus on repairing damage done to the environment, recreation and local economy. This plan will certainly evolve and expand over time as we learn more about the full impact of the fire, but we have identified six areas that we need to start working on right away.
The Rim Fire started burning Aug. 17 at Jawbone Ridge in the Stanislaus National Forest and spread into Yosemite National Park. Some 255,000 acres burned, including 40 miles along the Tuolumne River, which flows from Yosemite through the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which is used for San Francisco drinking water.
So here's the campaign in a nutshell:
Amass willing volunteers
It's all about organizing teams of volunteers to go into the burn zone as soon as possible to assess the damage on the ground in areas of concern, including the wild and scenic river corridor, pristine tributaries like the Clavey, and our meadow restoration projects. After that, staff will start recruiting volunteers to implement hands-on projects to restore habitat and recreational facilities. They'll be working on erosion control measures, seeding, tree planting, installing new interpretive signs, photo documentation, and trail restoration.
Get watershed stakeholders in the same room
Next, staff will put together public and private stakeholders in the watershed to develop and implement the post-fire response plan, orchestrate the local recovery operation, and coordinate with state and federal agencies involved in the recovery.
Tap the government
It's true, that this whole campaign will need state and federal agencies to implement much of the work. This parts won't be easy, in part because it will involve leveraging lots of cash.
Inform the people
Keep the people in the loop about what's going on with restoration efforts, and don't let them forget about what happened on Aug. 17, 2013. This is a good opportunity to start talking about how climate change is screwing with the Tuolumne River watershed and the need for better forest and water management.
The fire is hurting the local businesses nearby, including whitewater rafting outfitters, timber mills, and hotels. The campaign will help promote tourism opportunities as well as organize events and activities in the area to show people that the river is still awesome.
If you want to help out, but squeeze another hour of volunteering into your Saturday, then the least you could do it kick in some cash for the recovery effort. It's much appreciated.