Even before the Creek Fire in the Central Sierra of California was extinguished, the Central Sierra Resiliency Fund, a community initiative, was established by the Central Sierra Historical Society and Museum, Inc. in Shaver Lake. The fire started on September 4, 2020, and was not declared out until December 24 that year. At that time, the Creek Fire was the largest single fire in California history burning over 379,895 acres. If it were not for the professional manner in which the property owned by the Southern California Edison Company was managed, the village of Shaver Lake would have been destroyed. This is further proof that managing our forests by selected logging and controlled burning is critical for a healthy forest that can withstand and benefit from low-intensity fires, something Native People have known and practiced for generations.
In launching the Fund, local community members and concerned professionals collaborated to create a Resiliency Council to administer the restricted funds and determine funding recipients. In addition, they collaborate with other local, state, and national organizations on projects to empower the local community to lead the revitalization effort.
The Resiliency Fund supports long-term Creek Fire recovery efforts in communities within the vicinity of Fresno County’s Central Sierra region. Their priorities are to connect community organizations, governmental agencies, and individuals to organize and unify the community response to the Creek Fire. They educate the public, policymakers, affected individuals, and governmental agencies on priority issues and community efforts through social media, the website, clinics, tours, and site visits
Erosion Task Force
CSRF’s Erosion Task Force supports and partners with other private and public organizations to address erosion, site cleanup, drainage, watershed, and soil stabilization on private and public lands. This is a critical issue since, hopefully, it will be a season of abundant snow and rain which brings on the concern of landslides and erosion if steps are not taken to protect the land ravaged by the fire.
Seedlings of Hope
CSRF has been very successful with their reforestation program providing private landowner’s Native species appropriate for planting in the Central Sierra Region, such as Giant Sequoias, Incense Cedars, Live Oaks, Pines, and White Firs. The seedlings are planted as recommended by local foresters, with volunteers provided by the Fund, when requested. With the help of Cal Fire Nurseries and Southern California Edison, the Seedlings of Hope fundraising campaign, community members, and dedicated foresters, CSRF has provided 17,935 trees and planted 19,835 free of charge since April 2021.
Growing a viable seedling takes a minimum of one year. The Fund is currently partnering with American Forest and Mulholland Citrus to grow 30,000 more seedlings for Spring 2022.
Story Telling Project
An interesting and important aspects of the Fund is their commitment to honoring the historical legacy of the Central Sierra region by collecting community stories of the Creek Fire–and the unique histories that precede it– and preserving those stories through the Central Sierra Historical Society. An initial Creek Fire museum exhibit and a website collection of these stories are now available. In time, the Storytellers hope to utilize these stories as part of a Creek Fire exhibit that could include a more comprehensive museum display, interpretive kiosks placed throughout the community, a formal oral history project, and/or a book.