The frequency of disasters doesn't diminish the pain they bring. With 28 major fires burning across the state and the greatest area burned in a year, the scope of this disaster is unprecedented even in the context of recent record breaking fire seasons.
Within the places directly affected by these disasters are California naturalists, staff from our partner organizations, their families and the communities that they serve. This year, everyone knows someone who has been affected.
For those of us spared the worst our thoughts turn to those who have been affected the most. It is difficult for us to reconcile our understanding of the ecological role of fire in California with the widespread devastation and personal loss across our state. Notwithstanding the resilience of Californians and California Naturalists, we know that impact from these fires will be painful and lasting. We also know that the most vulnerable will face the most difficult challenges and have the longest road to recovery.
During these times, our community rises to the challenge by sharing time, resources, and strength. We know these efforts can't replace what has been lost, but they are our way to connect with those affected, and connections are what define communities. There are many worthy causes to support and ways you can respond, many of which you already do through your volunteer service as a naturalist. As naturalists with a deep connection to our communities, our state and the entire west coast, this collective experience will unite us as we recover, rebuild and re-envision our future in these special places we call home.
Finally, we also know that no matter how difficult conditions get, we will endure. Beyond the lingering haze are blue skies, beneath the ash are seeds prepared to sprout, and behind much of the charred bark water and nutrients still flow through living tissue. Our community too will rebound. We know – now more than ever – that our work is vital to addressing the underlying influence that climate change plays in transforming natural hazards into disasters, and we will respond with a renewed sense of purpose.
Greg and the CalNat Team