Butte Fire erosion fears: How you can help

A volunteer trims a dead tree on Friday near Mountain Ranch, in an area burned severely by the Butte Fire.

Millions of people either live in the two watersheds burned by the Butte Fire, or receive water pumped from those watersheds.

So, the work that about a dozen ash-coated volunteers were doing Friday atop a 2,700-foot hill scorched by the huge blaze will benefit far more than the Calaveras County residents who live in the immediate area.

Organizers of the erosion-control effort are asking the rest of us to chip in and help, either by donating money or time to travel up the hill and do some difficult but fulfilling work.

“We’re working as hard as we can,” organizer Sean Kriletich told me. “If we don’t have more money to keep materials coming, it’s going to be hard to continue.”

Anyone interested can email info@calaverasgrown.org. Or call (209) 498-8081.

Most of the fire burned within the Calaveras River watershed, a relatively small drainage that feeds New Hogan Lake. New Hogan is a primary source of water for Stockton and east county farmers.

A portion of the fire also scorched the Mokelumne River drainage, which supplies water for 1.3 million people in the East Bay, not to mention the city of Lodi and other local farmers.

A state report predicts that once the rains come, an average 7.8 tons of soil per acre could slide into the rivers and streams that we ultimately drink from. More than 70,000 acres were burned. Do the math.

Obviously, most of us flatlanders have something at stake here.

Some water providers have already suggested they will help. The Stockton East Water District is considering kicking in some cash, said board president Paul Sanguinetti, a Stockton farmer.

The water district recognizes that erosion could affect water quality in New Hogan, making the Calaveras water more difficult to treat and deliver to Stockton residents’ taps, Sanguinetti said.

“I think it’s a good idea what they’re trying to do up there,” Sanguinetti told me. “The way I look at it is, we’ve got to help them out.”

According to the minutes from Stockton East’s meeting last week, the district intends to consider matching whatever donation the Calaveras County Water District decides to provide. A Stockton city representative also asked that the city be included in the effort. Stockton actually gets some water from the Mokelumne as well as the Calaveras, so it has a unique interest in preserving both watersheds.

The money is needed to buy straw to help stabilize scorched hillsides, as well as to provide the volunteers with equipment, Kriletich said. But your physical labor is also welcome.

With El NiƱo on its way, this is the proverbial race against time. As I write this, the National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for burn areas across Northern California, including the Butte Fire, fearing that heavy thunderstorms could dump heavy amounts of rain in those areas today.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form.
  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Latest Tweets