Stanislaus National Forest
A hunter’s illegal fire in 2013 destroyed more than 250,000 acres in Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park (that’s 8 times the size of San Francisco). The Rim Fire burned so hot that, in some areas, it changed the soil’s composition from living to dead. It also increased the land’s vulnerability to erosion and invasive species, and cost more than $127 million before it was extinguished. Combined with global warming and drought, this mega fire ultimately killed even more trees, and accelerated the deadly effects of the bark beetle, which is destroying forests in the American West.
From 2015 through 2017, In Good Company collaborated with the Tuolumne River Trust, the Telele Foundation, and the U.S. Forest Service to begin restoring the Tuolumne River watershed. Volunteers planted over 5,000 trees and prepped acreage for even more planting, felling brush and trees by hand so we wouldn’t disturb endangered species. Not all projects were in the backwoods—we also created an outdoor living classroom and helped re-beautify a scenic overlook known as the Rim of the World.
The Stanislaus projects gave us a hands-on education about fire ecology; during 2017, more than 9,000 wild fires raged through California, burning over 1.3 million acres. We left Stanislaus with renewed appreciation for healthy soil and water, especially nearby Hetch Hetchy, which supports Central Valley agriculture and supplies drinking water to nearly 3 million people. We also left a gift for the local people and the parks themselves: 5,000 conifers—Ponderosa Pine, White Fir, Incense Cedar and Sugar Pine—a legacy that will house wildlife, store carbon, and provide oxygen for our children’s children.
“One of the gifts that In Good Company has given us is the ability to build our capacity and to learn more about the projects that we’re managing. It’s definitely made us better at what we do—everything from how long it takes to get a specific job done, how many people you’re going to need, to how you’re going to supervise them in the field in a safe way and in a way that’s meaningful for them as volunteers, that they’re going to appreciate and take with them and know that they made a strong contribution.”
Impact/In Good Company Volunteers
“Seeing the acres and acres of burnt trees and charred campsites was overwhelming. After piling up logs for a few hours, I remember thinking, 'Are we really making any progress?' This moment of doubt also made me realize the value of people in tackling a monumental goal. I looked around and saw a group of people who were so willing to dive in, work hard and see a tangible impact. I began to imagine the impact that 1,000 volunteers could have in Yosemite, realizing that people are at the core of In Good Company.”
“The first time that I put a tree in the soil, the connection that I felt to the earth and to the people around me was a connection and emotion that I wish I could bottle up and share with everyone.”
"One of the top 5 experiences of my life!!! I'd do it again tomorrow and use my vacation to cover it!!! Cannot express enough thanks for including me in this EXTREMELY REWARDING program!!!”