After the Fire – RCD and NRCS Can Help

From Leigh Sharp, Executive Director, Napa RCD

Soap plant resprouting after the fire

In the wake of recent fires in Napa County, our thoughts go out to those affected, especially those directly impacted by the loss of a home, a business, or a loved one. Through the fires and in recent weeks, the outpouring of community concern and interest in contributing to post-fire recovery is awe-inspiring and a true testament to how our community and our region can come together to care for one another and our environment.

In the past week, efforts have shifted from first response to long-term recovery. Coordinated efforts are underway to evaluate the impacts of the wildfires and to develop a post-fire recovery strategy. Watershed Emergency Response Teams (WERTs) have been assembled by Cal Fire to conduct rapid assessments of the fire incident areas to identify erosion prone areas that could pose a threat to life and developed property. These WERT assessments will provide an initial assessment of recommended actions to protect life and infrastructure. The RCD is participating in a Post-Fire Watershed Recovery Working Group comprised of local and regional agencies and organizations to coordinate actions and communication, to identify the breadth of resources available for recovery, to avoid redundancy in services, and to identify gaps in services.

Through recovery, RCD’s objective is to coordinate our efforts and services with those offered by other agencies and organizations and provide the best overall support possible to our community. To that end, RCD, along with our local and regional partners, has already begun to evaluate the potential short- and long-term impacts of burned areas on our watersheds, to compile resources to help with recovery, and to provide on-site visits to assist people as they prepare to understand and manage potentially damaging erosion on their property through the winter.

Despite the local devastation and loss, we remain hopeful that our watershed lands will recover well over the next few years. We are encouraged that many wildland areas appear to have burned only moderately and thus have great potential for self-recovery. We suspect that many oaks will survive, that acorns will sprout in the spring, that many fire-damaged trees and brush will re-sprout, and that the seed bank of grasses will begin to grow with the onset of (hopefully gentle) rains. Indeed, during some of our site visits we are already seeing the signs of sprouting and re-birth.

We’re here to help

RCD is working closely with our partner, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), to support you.  RCD and NRCS services include:

  • Performing site visits and planning services for landowners and managers to assess landscape conditions and recommend appropriate actions concerning potential erosion, stream impediments, etc.
  • Connecting agricultural landowners with potential funding resources available for post-fire natural resource protection 
  • Coordinating a growing interest in efforts to re-oak Napa County
  • Providing post-fire recovery publications, which will be updated regularly and available at http://naparcd.org/fire/

Please contact the RCD via Leigh Sharp or the NRCS via Jennifer Walser.