To say it’s been a rough week in a rough year is an understatement. Our hearts go out to all of those affected by the Bay Area fires and our gratitude goes to the first responders on the front lines for their perseverance, dedication and grit. This is an extremely challenging time, and there is a lot of hard work still to be done.
Though the CZU Lightning Complex fires in the Santa Cruz Mountains, thankfully, have not had a large impact on Midpen-managed lands to date, our preserves along Skyline Boulevard remain closed as fire continues to burn in parts of San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties. Check our closures page for updates.
As people and animals are displaced by fire, connections are critical. Connections between family, friends and neighbors supporting each other; connections between preserved open space lands allowing wildlife to safely move away from the fire; and connections between fire, police, parks and open space agencies providing mutual aid when resources are spread thin — connections matter.
Fire-trained Midpen rangers and maintenance staff, along with San Mateo County Parks, La Honda Fire Brigade, volunteers and other crews have been assisting Cal Fire with firefighting on the north flank of the CZU August Lightning Complex Fire. Together, we’ve been able to a hold a line at Pescadero Creek, along Old Haul Road, without which the fire could spread all the way to Skyline Boulevard and even toward Interstate 280. Weather conditions have been favorable for us to make a lot of progress, and we remain hopeful that we can hold this northern flank of the fire.
The rich diversity of plants, animals, people and landscapes of our region are critical resources to both protect and draw upon during these difficult times. As a community, we all have something to contribute as we manage through and recover from this crisis. We gain immeasurable strength when we work together, lending our talents, time, energy and resources to help each other move forward.
Along with Midpen staff helping crews hold the fire on the front line, our geographic information systems staff harnessed our unique location-based datasets, technical cartography and technology skills to create a public interactive web-based map showing in real-time the extent of the various fires overlain by the preserve and evacuation areas (see map). This online map tool has become an invaluable community resource for local residents, open space and park partners, and many others – and is considered one of the best mapping tools available online to track the extent of the fires.
Many native California plants and wildlife have adapted over millennia to live with fire. People, too, are learning to be resilient in response to more frequent wildland fires and a changing climate. At Midpen, we’ve been proactively expanding our wildland fire prevention, preparation and response with our Wildland Fire Resiliency Program. We are also exploring ways our unique mission, skillsets and resources can make a difference for the people and places most affected now, and in the future, by local fire events.
Midpen will continue strengthening connections with our local communities and exploring new partnerships that enhance our collective resilience with an eye toward a better future.
Ana María Ruiz