Wildfires are becoming a global issue, and California is one of the places that is hit the hardest because of its dry climate. As filmmakers and educators living in the foothills of the Golden State, we wanted to know why this is happening and what can be done about it. We discovered that experts in the Sierra Nevada are taking on innovative solutions at an unprecedented scale, and if they are successful, it could influence work around the world.

The film is based on interviews with leading experts from state, federal, and grassroots organizations, water agencies, community partnerships, and so on:

Kate Gordon is the Senior Climate change advisor to California Governor Gavin Newsom and director of his Office of Planning and Research. A major focus of the organization is helping the State of California mitigate and adapt to global warming. The Commission on Catastrophic Wildfire Cost and Recovery operates under OPR.
Full Bio at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kate_Gordon_(energy_analyst)

Jeff Brown and Faerthen Felix (director and assistant manager of UC Berkeley’s Central Sierra Field Stations). Since 2004, Jeff Brown has been the driving force behind the Sagehen Forest Project, which brought traditional antagonists into agreement on how to save our forests from wildfire, disease, insects, and drought, while creating sustainable forest jobs. Jeff Brown and Assistant Manager, Faerthen Felix, are recognized as community leaders in the Truckee and Sierra regions, incorporating scientific inquiry, sustainable management, interdisciplinary approaches, and educational efforts as part of their broader management plans. Jeff Brown is recognized by the New Yorker as a trailblazer in work on wildfire solutions https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/08/26/a-trailblazing-plan-to-fight-california-wildfires

Shelly Allen (US Forest Service – Tahoe National Forest) is now the only female Fire Management Officer in Region 5 (Pacific Southwest) of the U.S. Forest Service. https://www.nationalforests.org/blog/women-forged-by-fire-shelly-allen

Matthew S. Reischman has over 25 years of Environmental Regulation and Natural Resource Management experience. He is currently the CAL FIRE Assistant Deputy Director of Resource Protection and Improvement where his statewide program responsibilities include: Urban Forestry, Vegetation Management, Prescribed Fire, Pest Management, Environmental Protection, Archeology, State Nurseries, Landowner Assistance, the California Forester Improvement Program, Forest Legacy and the Demonstration State Forest Program. Matthew has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Wildlife Management from Humboldt State University. He is a Registered Professional Forester, Wildlife Biologist, and a P.O.S.T certified state peace officer.

Melinda Booth, Executive Director, Rachel Hutchinson, River Science Director, and Andrew Salmon, Forest Health Watershed Coordinator – The South Yuba River Citizens League – an influential grassroots environmental non-profit organization that aims to protect and restore the Yuba River. https://yubariver.org/about/meet-the-staff/

Willie Whittlesey is the project manager at Yuba Water Agency – a special district in Yuba County, committed to forest health in the entire Yuba watershed, to ensure sustainable water supply and reduce the risk of fire for the people of Yuba County.

Cathy LeBlanc, Executive Director, and Lindsey Nitta, Bioenergy Project Manager, from Camptonville Community Partnership took on an ambitious project of building a Biomass power plant facility in Camptonville, California, that could solve the issue of the overstocked forest in Sierra Nevada foothills.

Lindsey Nitta has extensive expertise as a strategic and dedicated public affairs specialist with ten years of experience in developing and implementing programs, campaigns, and events with a focus on social change and engagement. Lindsey’s previous work includes launching the California Forestry Association’s communications programming.

Steve Grayson (Prescribed burn expert) was most recently the Executive Director for Terra Fuego from 2016-2019, a nonprofit organization in Chico, California. While there, he developed a prescribed burn program with Chico State’s Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve, provided training for professional skill development through 5 Prescribed Burn Training Exchanges (TREX), managed landscape planning and burn projects on private, tribal, and federal lands. He also provided outreach and education using Simtable© training to fire personnel and community members. Graydon earned an MA in Environmental and Risk Communication and Media studies from Chico State in 2016. His passion for fire comes from his direct experience with wildfire suppression for the Forest Service and Cal Fire. He spent 12 years working as a Hotshot sawyer, Helitack deployment, Engine response, and as a California Smokejumper.

Jamie Ervin works with Sierra Forest Legacy to promote ecologically-sound fire management in Sierra forests through public policy, land management planning, and advocacy. He serves as the coordinator for the Yuba-Bear Burn Cooperative, which is a community-led effort to restore beneficial prescribed fire to private lands in the Yuba and Bear Watersheds. Jamie holds a Master’s of Science in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont, as well as a Master’s of Environmental Law & Policy from Vermont Law School. Sierra Forest Legacy’s mission is to engage land managers, scientists, and stakeholders in the management of Sierra Nevada ecosystems to protect and restore the unparalleled beauty and natural values of the region.

Projects Featured

Sagehen Forest Project

While relatively small (9,000 acres), the SFP has massive influence as a demonstration of science-informed policy and community collaboration that provides a workable model and tools for larger scale actions throughout California forests. http://sagehenforest.blogspot.com/

Tahoe-Central Sierra Initiative

Building upon several large-scale regional efforts and best available science, a partnership of state, federal, environmental, industry, and research representatives have established the Tahoe-Central Sierra Initiative to accelerate regional scale forest and watershed restoration through ecologically based management actions while creating the opportunities to support a forest restoration economy and explore innovative process, investment, and governance tools.

In August 2017, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between The Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Forest Service, the USFS Pacific Southwest Research Station, the California Tahoe Conservancy, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, the National Forest Foundation, the California Forestry Association, and the University of California Natural Reserve System – Sagehen Creek Field Station.

The North Yuba Forest Partnership

A diverse group of nine organizations passionate about forest health and the resilience of the North Yuba River watershed.

Together, the partners are working on an unprecedented scale to collaboratively plan, analyze, finance, and implement forest restoration across 275,000 acres of the watershed.

Produced, directed and written by Radu Sava & Rebekah Hood-Sava

Narration and text editing John Deaderick

Cinematography and editing Radu Sava
Drone Cinematography Michael Caspi
Additional drone cinematography Sly Espinoza
Interviews by Rebekah Hood-Sava and Louise Miller

This film is a grassroots effort made possible by
75 Kickstarter backers and individual donors.