The bi-annual newsletter of Friends of Plumas Wilderness
Letter from the President
Local Wildlands Need Our Love Now
Since my last letter, my mother passed away. Carmen Anna Jury gave much more than she took. One of the many gifts she gave me is an unending love of nature. This love was nurtured and passed down generation after generation. Her father, Earl Reeves, who was born in 1900, moved to California with my grandmother in the 1920s, and worked in mills throughout Northern California most of his life. He shared his love of forests with my mom and me. This love is the foundation of my understanding and appreciation of nature.
I developed a deeper love and understanding of Sierra forests since returning to Northern California in 2004, after a decade and a half in Colorado. My understanding of nature has been enriched through thinning forests and restoring fire with Mountain Maidu – The Cunninghams from Genesee Valley, and the Greenville Indian Rancheria Wildland Fire Crew.
What is obvious to me is that the health of our communities, surrounding working lands, and wildlands beyond are intricately interrelated. Our forests are much more than one of the economic pillars of our communities – they enhance all aspects of our lives. Our forests make us who we are. Healthy forests improve our mental and physical wellbeing in ways the Mountain Maidu know and science is just beginning to understand.
It has been gut-wrenching to watch forests I’ve known since I was a child consumed by fire, as it has been heartbreaking to see communities I have personal connections with go up in smoke and friends lose homes and businesses. Because we are so intricately intertwined, we are all in this together.
Our Sierra forests are dying at an alarming rate. Having recently lost my mother, I cannot help but think Mother Earth is dying. Even on her deathbed, during my last visit when I could no longer hold back the tears, my mother gave one final piece of advice: she said, “smile!”
As we are surrounded by death following the fires that have consumed vast tracts of our forests and our communities we must not forget to smile when we see life and love and the hope they bring. And, we must remember to give back. Our communities, working lands, and wildlands need us now more than ever.
We at Friends of Plumas Wilderness strongly believe the Upper Feather River watershed is at a critical crossroads. In the last five years, 57% of the upper watershed has burned. The loss of life, livelihoods, homes, and habitats due to wildfires has been heartbreaking. Our communities, working lands, and wildlands have been forever altered in short order. Our remaining wild places are threatened now more than any time in my tenure here.
My wife, Darla DeRuiter, who has served as Secretary of Friends of Plumas Wilderness since 2015, has been hired as our first Executive Director. Under her leadership, Friends of Plumas Wilderness and Lost Sierra Food Project have teamed up to host Conny Rios Escobar as a GrizzlyCorps Fellow. More details about our team and how you can join us at this crucial time are included in this edition of the Equinox.
To meet the challenges and opportunities of our times, Friends of Plumas Wilderness aims to grow. After nearly 50 years as an all-volunteer, non-membership organization we have hired staff and will begin recruiting members. If you support our mission to study, explore, and maintain the integrity of natural ecosystems where the Sierra and Cascades meet, become a Friend of Plumas Wilderness. We need you now!
Leave it wild!