Partner Profile | Central Sierra Resiliency Fund

The Central Sierra Resiliency Fund is collaborating with other local, state, and national organizations on projects to empower the local community to lead the revitalization effort after the 2020 Creek Fire.

Written by: Jessica Alvarez, Communications & Content Manager

The Central Sierra Resiliency Fund is a non-profit community initiative held at the Central Sierra Historical Society and Museum, Inc. Its mission is to support the revitalization of the forests and communities surrounding Shaver Lake through land restoration, local stewardship, and economic efforts that honor the historical legacy of the Central Sierra.

The Resiliency Fund is collaborating with other local, state, and national organizations on projects to empower the local community to lead the revitalization effort after the 2020 Creek Fire. It supports long-term Creek Fire recovery efforts in communities within the vicinity of Fresno County’s Central Sierra region including, but not limited to, Huntington Lake, Lakeshore, Big Creek, Shaver Lake, Pine Ridge, Meadow Lakes, Alder Springs, and Auberry.

Since being founded in 2020, the Fund has worked closely with local foresters and resource professionals, including Resiliency Fund Council Members, Meghan Breniman and Julianne (Juli) Stewart, who are both Registered Professional Foresters to spearhead project development. Along with providing support for the Fund’s Seedlings of Hope project, Meghan and Juli have also been collaborating with Blue Forest on the potential development of a post-fire recovery resilience bond, the first of its kind. “We are very excited about really getting the ball rolling and making a dent on the recovery efforts and working with Blue Forest to expedite those efforts all around, including areas outside of the Creek fire,” said Juli. “We’re really looking forward to doing some of that fuel reduction work down the road and this kickoff project is really a big deal.”

Bobbie Fleming joined as Director of the Resiliency Fund in December 2021, and while she is the newest member of the group, she is no stranger to the area. Born and raised in the Central Sierra region and with a non-profit background, Bobbie was happy for the “opportunity to join the organization and attempt to make an impact as well.”

The Seedlings of Hope project is currently the Resiliency Fund’s main effort and so far they’ve been able to plant just over 44,000 trees of native conifer species within the Creek Fire burn scar on private lands. “We source native seeds and seedlings appropriate for our seed zone, and we provide them free of charge to local landowners that have been affected by the Creek Fire within the Fresno County burn scar,” explained Meghan. “We provide them with the seedlings, the tools and education to actually get the seedlings in the ground and offer volunteer efforts for those that would like it.”

Aside from this project, the Fund also has its Storytellers Program, through which they are honoring the historical legacy of the Central Sierra region by collecting community stories of the Creek Fire–and the unique histories that precede it– and preserving those stories through the Central Sierra Historical Society.

“We really wanted to collect stories from people about their experience with the fire — whether it was a firefighter assigned to it, or someone who lost their home, or just someone who was down in the evacuation footprint — we wanted to get it down on paper for the future of our area.” said Bobbie. “It’s not only for historical knowledge, but also kind of a healing process. Some are having trouble talking about the trauma of the fire so for some it just allows them to get that information out and kind of talk through it and work through it a bit.”

The group is meeting with a publisher soon and hopes to publish a book with all these stories by the end of year to be sold at the Museum.

As for the partnership with Blue Forest, currently the focus is on the Musick Project on U.S. Forest Service land, which both Blue Forest and the Resiliency Fund are evaluating for a pilot project. “The focus right now is trying to build the Forest Resilience Bond to support efforts on the Musick project. That project was already really close to starting to have some treatments done right before the Creek Fire, so it was a shovel-ready, NEPA-approved project that seems like a really good fit to try to propose for a Resilience Bond,” explained Meghan. “This is a really good step on the way to build the relationships, and a good foot in the door to make sure that it is a good compatible project and we can all continue to work well together.”