For everyone who lives in or loves the Bay Area, it is impossible not to be heartbroken by the devastating loss our region is experiencing due to wildfires sparked by lightning strikes. At this time, we know that multiple POST-protected lands are among those impacted.
It is so sad to see fires burn the beloved redwood forests, wildlife habitat and grasslands that we have all worked so hard to protect. We grieve for those who have lost lives, livelihoods, homes and dreams, and for those who have had to evacuate and are worried about the future of their communities and families.
This is the most difficult challenge that POST has ever faced — certainly the hardest thing I have had to manage in my 25-year career here. And it is hard to figure out where and how POST (or any of us) can help at this time. Our team has thought through actions we can take, and I want to share those with you today.
Record heat, extremely dry vegetation and an historic lightning event (pictured above) combined for a “perfect storm” leading to what have become the largest fires in state history. Video: Jeff Boyce
The number one priority is the safety of all who live in our local communities. POST staff who live in evacuation zones followed CAL FIRE and county orders (San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz) and have moved to safer ground. As of now, we have six staff whose displacement has an immediate and significant impact on them, their families and our team. We know that thousands of households in our working area, perhaps even yours, are experiencing this or more extensive loss. Our thoughts are with you.
The second priority is to stay on top of what is happening on the ground by listening to daily news conferences and informational releases, and complying with local legal orders. The current directive is clear: Stay out of the way of CAL FIRE and all emergency responders to give them the space necessary to do their jobs. POST is abiding by these guidelines, and we encourage you to do the same.
We are also fielding questions concerning what POST is doing about the fire on our lands. This is hard to answer, as our organization is neither trained nor staffed to be emergency responders. Like many land managers, we’re having a hard time processing the extent of the fire damage across our region. All we know is that it has never been this bad. It will take considerable time before we are able to assess the full extent of the damage and determine the right courses of action.
That said, we take some small comfort knowing that POST and our donors have already invested in roads, bridges, water infrastructure, forest management, grazing and land protection itself — all of which will be needed to help our communities rebuild, recover and move forward.
Finally, many of us want to help by making financial contributions. And while POST too is a donor-supported nonprofit, we know of a few local organizations that need help now in order to aid their communities. Due to reports of fraud and fake online fundraisers, we recommend that you consider supporting these organizations that we know and trust below. And please note that we expect this list to expand in the months ahead:
As for the POST team, we’re looking forward to the day when we can assess the damage and apply our expertise and resources to restore our people, wildlife and landscapes. Much of what we are experiencing comes from the fact that our climate is changing — our wet seasons are shorter and more intense, and the dryer seasons are longer and more relentless. Building climate resilience has long been an important facet of our work, and we’re eager to pursue effective investments and strategies with renewed vigor.
I am hopeful that once this tragedy passes, we will find opportunities for renewal and recovery.
Please stay safe.
Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 80,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Learn more