Round Fire Devastates Swall Meadows

Dear Friends,

There are truly no words for these feelings – I think crying and hugging one another come closer to expressing what is bursting inside. Our close-knit community was hit hard on February 6th by the devastatingly intense Round Fire.

A devastating wildfire earlier this month ravaged homes and habitat in the Eastern Sierra. Photo © Jerry Dodrill.

A devastating wildfire earlier this month ravaged homes and habitat in the Eastern Sierra. Photo © Jerry Dodrill.

The statistics tell one part of the firestorm’s story: 7,000 burned acres. 40 homes in Swall Meadows and Paradise destroyed. ESLT’s Wildlife Preserve and four conservation easements were either destroyed or damaged, and countless friends and supporters are now sifting through the ashes for mementos from their lives.

Our hearts scream to tell different stories: the horror of the sky turning incredible shades of orange and black from flying flames, watching as it roared closer and closer to our homes. The extreme fear of not knowing whether family pets were safe, and wondering through the night what our community would look like when the sun returned.

And through the pain and tears, there are countless stories of heroism and hope. Neighbors dousing neighbor’s homes with water; people risking their own lives to rescue pets; a horse who was too fearful to be led to safety, and had to be released in the midst of the blaze.

The horse was found the next day – scared and mostly fine. I think how similar we are, that horse and us. We will come through this: we are scared, and we are alive. It’s so much harder for those who lost everything – and together, we will find a way to help one another recover from this disaster.

Through the ashes we will find light, and we will grow once again.

All my best and with great hope,

Kay

PS: Looking for a way that you can help victims of the fire? The Round Fire Fundraising Dinner and Concert will be held this Saturday, March 7, from 6-9pm in the Charles Brown Auditorium at Bishop’s Tri-County Fairgrounds. Tickets are $20 and all proceeds from this event will go to those affected by the Round Fire. We hope to see you there! Click Here for more information.

For those who want to start working on restoring wildlife habitat, the Bristlecone Chapter of the California Native Plant Society shared some excellent advice: the biggest concern right now is preventing invasive plants from spreading, so grab your hoes and help scratch out the cheatgrass before it goes to seed. Though native plants are likely to regrow over time, you can also try re-seeding the scorched areas with locally-collected Inyo county seeds.

The area that burned provides critical habitat to the Round Valley mule deer herd.

The area that burned provides critical habitat to the Round Valley mule deer herd. In the weeks ahead, ESLT will begin habitat restoration efforts to rebuild this important wildlife corridor. Stay tuned for more news and ways that you can help! Photo © Jerry Dodrill.

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