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By Chris Neklason
Published Jun 24, 2024

An image from September 2020 of Lake Tenaya in Yosemite National Park, with sunlight and shadows cast in the wildfire smoke hanging over the lake water. An image from September 2020 of Lake Tenaya in Yosemite National Park, with sunlight and shadows cast in the wildfire smoke hanging over the lake water. Image credit: Chris Neklason contributed

Fire Season Begins with a Roar

A whiff of smoke on the breeze the other day had me thinking back to 2020. 

I was up at our family cabin outside Yosemite that August, and one night watched the most intense thunderstorm of my life take place off to the east over the Sierra. Lightning lit up the sky and thunder crashed and boomed for hours, though little or no rain fell. 

It was the same up and down California, and the next day, the state was on fire.

I was back up at the cabin a month later in September, and the smoke was so thick I donned goggles and an industrial respirator and headed up into the Yosemite high contry in search of breathable air.  After driving a couple hours I found some up in Tuolumne Meadows, and remember hiking to the river and wondering if I should camp out for a few days.

That summer there were so many fires buring in the state, I'd found the best air in California and was loathe to leave.

Since then, more communities have become firewise certified, more homeowners have embraced defensible space, and more funding has been directed toward clearing beetle-killed trees in forests.

Hopefully, this summer won't see the return of the lurid yellow and orange skies of 2020.

The author in September 2020 on a quest for clean air.

Summer Has Arrived

Summer arrived this year on June 20, but fire season got here first with the ignition of the Corral Fire south of Tracy in San Joaquin County on June 1. Now 100% contained, the fire burned over 14,000 acres of grasslands and led to evacuations of some neighborhoods.

As I write this, there are several other fires burning in the state and experts are forecasting more to come until it rains. 

It's not too late to prepare for fire season, and this issue of The Newsletter features a couple of articles to help.

Give Your Home a Fighting Chance in a Wildfire

Many of Robert Kerbeck’s neighbors in Malibu Park lost their homes in the 2018 Woolsey Fire, which left behind lots where only chimneys still stood.
California wildfires are becoming larger, more frequent and more ferocious. ‘Malibu Burning’ author Robert Kerbeck shares simple steps you can take to protect your home.

On the Lookout for California Wildfires

Hundreds of Internet-connected cameras  provide a birds eye view of California.
The UC San Diego-managed ALERTCalifornia network of mountaintop cameras act as remote eyes for fire fighters, and the public.

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Recipe of the Week

Our friends at Sacramento Digs Gardening publish a recipe from their gardens every Sunday, which we feature here so you can start your week with some yum.

See more recipes in their Taste Summer! cookbook.

Cobble together plums and cherries for a summer treat

Cherries and plums are botanical cousins, so pair beautifully in an early summer cobbler.
New! Easy fruit creation's worth a little oven time

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