“Only ash and metal remain”: Sierra Streams Institute loses laboratory and office at Jones Fire
The Sierra Streams Institute, whose lab and offices were located at Madrone Hall on the Sierra Friends Center campus, lost everything when the entire building was set on fire in the Jones fire.
The Sierra Streams Institute is an environmental non-profit organization and employs 12 scientists – with varying specializations in hydrology, biology, and chemistry – in their work to protect local watersheds. The institute also welcomes educational opportunities for the community.
“All that’s left is ash and metal. Our storage shed that was next to our building was also completely destroyed, and we had a lot of specialized and expensive equipment, ”said Joanne Hild, executive director of the Sierra Streams Institute.
The Jones fire destroyed 21 buildings, including many homes, Cal Fire said.
According to Hild, although they have some insurance coverage, they are concerned about their upcoming claim. She said one issue that could arise is the need for documents, including receipts, much of which was lost in the fire along with the equipment. Another potential challenge is that some of the equipment has been with the institute during its 24 year history. Even if they received the current value of the equipment from their insurer, that is unlikely to be enough to cover the cost of the new replacements.
Nancy Fleming, chair of the Sierra Streams Institute board of directors, said: “There is a lot of expensive technical equipment that goes into water monitoring: reading oxygen levels, pH of the water. , and things like that. She said the institute has equipment it uses to monitor conditions in Deer Creek and other local watersheds, as well as wildlife monitoring equipment.
According to Hild, the institute had just made a copy of its data archive six months ago, thus minimizing the amount of information lost in the blaze. “Without this data, it would be even more devastating. We can replace equipment and buildings, but data is valuable, and luckily we have most of it. We have lost a few, ”she said.
Fleming stressed the importance of the institute’s work, saying it is especially vital during a fire season.
“The type of work we do is very much related to the Jones fire, and we need to go immediately on site with our monitoring to assess the fire’s impacts, changes and data to understand the restoration needs.” – but, we won’t be able to do that until we have the equipment, ”said Fleming.
She said institute staff were motivated to seek help after receiving calls from community members – some offering temporary office space, lab space and financial aid – directly after the fire.
Hild has created a GoFundMe page, which can be found at: http://www.gofundme.com/f/sierra-streams-institute-jones-fire-recovery.
In an email Thursday, Fleming wrote: “We don’t know what our future is yet. Staff and the board will prepare a recovery plan to make these decisions. It will take time, but we will survive.
Victoria Penate is a writer for The Union. She can be reached at [email protected]