Hirsch’s CA Wildfire Relief & Resilience Recommendations

As this year’s wildfire season began early—amid our extreme drought and the compounding trauma of the pandemic—I found myself anxiously watching for smoke in the sky and emergency text alerts. Currently, it’s our neighbors in the north who have been hit the hardest.

The 2021 fires are outpacing even 2020, which was California’s worst fire season in state history. To date this year:

  • Over 941,000 acres burned
  • Over 1,000 structures damaged or destroyed
  • Thousands of residents evacuated
  • Over 9,700 personnel battling 11 active large wildfires
  • Only 21% containment of the Dixie fire, CA’s second-largest wildfire in history

To support our philanthropic community, we have curated and vetted a list of organizations providing urgent fire relief, especially for undocumented immigrants and communities of color. We have also included several forward-thinking organizations providing unique long-term solutions, such as mental health services for first responders and their families, career support for formerly incarcerated firefighters, and preventative land stewardship led by Indigenous communities.

Urgent Relief for Communities

  • World Central Kitchen is partnering with local food businesses in Quincy, CA to provide ~4,000 nourishing meals a week ($40,000 total cost per week) to evacuees and first responders in need. The demand may grow as more families learn of the program and shelters request more meals.
  • The California Fire Foundation’s Supplying Aid to Victims of Emergency (SAVE) program supplies frontline firefighters throughout the state with $250 gift cards to distribute to disaster victims so they can purchase urgent short-term needs such as food, clothing, and medicine.
  • The Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s California Wildfires Recovery Fund supports communities across the state that have been disproportionately affected by fires by identifying and filling gaps where public resources are unavailable or scarce, and giving locally to small nonprofits and community groups.
  • The Latino Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund invests in frontline organizations, mainly in Napa and Sonoma counties, that support fire-affected Latino and immigrant farmworker communities with financial assistance, rehousing, community health workers know as ‘promotoras’, emergency to-go bags, and more.

Long-term Wildfire Response & Resilience Solutions

  • The First Responder Support Network is a Bay Area-based leader in providing mental health treatment and support for first responders and their families.
  • The Amah Mutsun Land Trust is the 501c3 organization supporting the restoration and expansion of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band’s environmental and cultural stewardship activities on their ancestral lands, which stretch from the Año Nuevo Natural Reserve in the north to Monterey Bay in the south. This large swath of California central coast is at high risk for wildfires, and effective land stewardship is critical for long-term prevention efforts.
  • The Tribal EcoRestoration Alliance is a multi-tribal coalition in Lake County that provides indigenous land stewardship to reduce uncharacteristic wildfires through cultural and prescribed burns, fire line clearing, and ecological revitalization.
  • The Forestry and Fire Recruitment Program addresses the growing need for California wildfire response personnel by providing firefighting training and gainful employment opportunities for those formerly in “fire camps”—incarcerated crews that respond to natural and manmade emergencies throughout the state, often risking their lives on the frontlines of wildfires.
  • Blue Forest deploys private capital to finance forest restoration projects on private and public lands to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, with a keystone project in the Tahoe National Forest.

P.S. There are certainly many significant challenges right now across the U.S. and globally, including in Afghanistan and Haiti. If you are interested in contributing to other humanitarian efforts, please contact our team.