End of Year News & Updates
December, 2020
2020 Wrap up
We at Fire Safe Sonoma hope this message finds you safe and in good health. 2020 has certainly been a year of challenges for so many people across the nation and globe as well as here in Sonoma County. Our hearts go out to those who have been impacted by the devastating 2020 wildfires.

We are proud of our accomplishments this past year, including:
  • Completion of 2 Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs) for Fire Safe Grove Street and Fire Safe Occidental.
  • Ongoing assistance for the Camp Meeker CWPP (in process).
  • Conducted over 70 wildfire safety home assessments working alongside our contractor.
  • Created Twitter account and YouTube channel and grew Facebook page.
  • Conducted 20 webinars and presentations, including the first Spanish-language webinar in partnership with Santa Rosa Fire Department staff.
  • Completed a roadside fuels reduction project for the Fitch Mountain area.
  • Continued our second year of a three-year partnership with County Transportation and Public Works (TPW) on fuels reduction in West County.
  • Assisted in the County’s Curbside Chipper Program.

This year Fire Safe Sonoma also received a $10,000 donation from the California Apartment Association matched by an additional $10,000 donation from California Assemblymember Jim Wood for a total of $20,000! We are extremely grateful for this generous contribution which will help Fire Safe Sonoma to continue to fulfill its mission of providing wildfire safety outreach and education to county residents.
RCD Partnerships
In an effort to expand resident resources and help our community acquire the education and tools they need to better prepare for wildfire, this year also brought about a new partnership with the Gold Ridge RCD and the Sonoma RCD, Sonoma County’s Resource Conservation Districts.
Since the Tubbs Fire in 2018, Fire Safe Sonoma has been working with Gold Ridge RCD and Sonoma RCD to build a strong partnership. All parties agree we will have better success being prepared for wildfire and wildfire recovery if we work closely together. We have jointly worked on several grants to increase the areas in the county with Community Wildfire Protection Plans, advance implementation of those plans, and boost our capacity to serve the great need for community preparedness in the face of wildfires. 
In early 2020 Fire Safe Sonoma received a contract from the County of Sonoma. Part of this partnership was hiring of an AmeriCorps CivicSpark Fellow to assist with the capacity building for the RCDs and FSS.
The Fellow serves as the Sonoma Wildfire Awareness Outreach Coordinator, and serves all of Sonoma County in increasing community resilience in the face of increased wildfire risk and other adverse effects exacerbated through the changing climate. Working with Fire Safe Sonoma and the RCDs, the Fellow supports two projects to assist the RCDs and Fire Safe Sonoma achieve strategic goals:

  • Sonoma County Outreach and Coordination Plan - Create and distribute educational outreach content via social media, phone calls, email correspondence, website updates, newsletter articles, public events, and workshops to increase the capacity of Fire Safe Sonoma to meet the great demand for information the public requests after having four devastating wildfires in the past two years.

  • Incorporate Forest Management and Wildfire Preparedness Planning Into the Gold Ridge RCDs Strategic Plan - Identify community needs and opportunities around forest management and wildfire safety and preparedness to increase the RCD's capacity to identify and prioritize funding proposals and project development.

Staff Highlight: Meet Cailin!
Cailin Notch joins our team as a Fellow through the CivicSpark AmeriCorps program. Cailin splits her time between the Gold Ridge RCD and Fire Safe Sonoma to assist with wildfire prevention outreach and emergency preparedness efforts throughout Sonoma County.
In her previous experience, Cailin worked as a city planner at the City of Petaluma for three years before taking a gap year to travel through South America and Europe. She views thoughtful development and conservation as two sides of the same coin, and brings her experience in place-making to her wildfire prevention work with Fire Safe Sonoma. 
California-born and Oregon-raised, Cailin has spent almost equal time in each state and proudly represents both. She is passionate about climate mitigation and adaptation. Before coming to Fire Safe Sonoma she volunteered with the City of Ashland activating their Climate and Energy Action Plan and volunteered as a policy researcher for Rogue Climate, a climate justice organization based in Southern Oregon. When she’s not working she’s probably reading, biking, hiking, camping, tending to her flower garden or helping out at the organic family farm down the street. She dreams of the day when it is once again safe to haunt her favorite karaoke bars. 
Cailin has a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies with a French Minor from the University of California, Berkeley.
As 2020 draws to a close, we hope you and yours get some well-deserved rest. As all of us are too aware, 2020 has also led to so much devastation for many in Sonoma County. COVID-19 continues to wreck physical, economic and psychological havoc to our community. The upheaval from the pandemic was compounded by multiple catastrophic fires this year, most notably the LNU Complex and Glass fires. The fires have also touched us at Fire Safe Sonoma personally in a number of ways, including multiple board members who had to evacuate.

This year has also included additional stressors including high heat and power shut-offs. At points it may feel difficult to cope. We hope our subscribers are keeping themselves well and keeping care of their emotional and physical well-being. We've found these coping skills to be useful this year: 
  • Maintain communications with family, friends, neighbors. Connecting and talking with your loved ones and neighbors can be grounding in times of uncertainty.
  • Ask for help when you need it. Don't try to take it all on by yourself.
  • Prioritize sleep, hydration, healthy diet and exercise (even indoors).
  • Take time for hobbies that help your mind focus on other things and allow you to relax
  • Meditate with the help of a meditation app or music
  • The American Psychiatric Association has specific tips for boosting your resilience before and after a disaster. 

If you need additional support and resources, reach out to the caring team at the Sonoma County Mental Health and Wellness "Warm" Line. This Warm line is available to anyone needing help coping with stress during COVID-19. Their webpage also contains numerous additional resources related to mental health and wellness. 
Post-fire Recovery
As the number of fire survivors in Sonoma County grows, Fire Safe Sonoma will continue to look for ways to best support residents by strengthening our partnerships with post-fire recovery groups. We recently were a panelist on a post-fire recovery workshop by the Sonoma Forest Conservation Working Group. You can find a comprehensive Fire Recovery Resources Guide for Forest and Rural Landowners from the working group here.

Additionally County Supervisor Susan Gorin (District 1) hosts listening session for fire survivors available on her YouTube channel here, and Supervisor James Gore (District 4) hosts the Survivor to Survivor (S2S) conversation series available here.
Looking Ahead
We look forward to continuing our mission of wildfire safety and prevention in Sonoma County in 2021! We are excited about a number of different partnerships and projects in the new year, including:
  • County of Sonoma Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) update public outreach.
  • Assisting and supporting local fire safe councils and other groups.
  • Creating an internal community outreach and operation plan.
  • Pre-approved for two roadside fuels reduction projects in Occidental and Sonoma in partnership with Conservation Corps North Bay (CCNB).
  • More home assessments and webinars and presentations! 
Wildfire & Soil
Curious about how wildfire affects soil health? Read CivicSpark Fellow Cailin Notch’s article for the North Coast Soil Hub.

Interested in contributing an article for our website? Reach out to Cailin at firesafesonomastaff@gmail.com.
Make Your Voice Heard!
The County has started the process of updating the Countywide Hazard Mitigation Plan, this time undertaking a Multi-Jurisdictional approach to develop a cohesive plan. As a part of this process, a community survey has been launched to help better understand residents’ knowledge of and preparedness levels for local hazards including floods, fire, and earthquakes.

The survey was published in both English and Spanish. The survey takes 8-10 minutes to complete.

For more information about the Plan update and partner jurisdictions you can visit the project website.
Tell the USDA Your Thoughts!

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) seeks public input on Nonindustrial Private Forest Land related to technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Series. Visit their press release to learn more and provide comment by January 19, 2021.

If creating a more fire resilient Sonoma County is important to you, please consider donating to Fire Safe Sonoma. 
Thank you for your support. We look forward to partnering in the new year!
Images provided by Cailin Notch, Roberta MacIntyre, and Pond5