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Fire Updates re Quaker Centers

Published: Oct. 23, 2020


Ben Lomond Quaker Center has survived the CZU fires.

Despite losing nearly 2,000 feet of waterline and two-years-worth of firewood, QC managed to avoid losing any buildings. For that we are so grateful and hold in the Light so many neighbors who were not so fortunate. We hope to find ways to help and support those in need.

We are beginning to roll up our sleeves and begin the cleaning process: dealing with ash and smoke. We’re also gearing up to do some serious erosion control, to continue with fire prevention work and to replace all of that waterline.

We are continuing to hold our heads above water, financially, despite losing about $15,000 per month of budgeted income. We started out with some healthy reserves, we’ve cut back on expenditures and Friends have been exceedingly generous in offering financial support. But, as the pandemic shows no sign of going away, and as we recover from the CZU fire, we are nearly certain to approach the limits of our ability to stay afloat and to chart the course. Please help, as you are able

Click here for Ben Lomond Quaker Center website.


Sierra Friends Center has survived the Jones Fire, but has suffered great damage.

The Jones Fire burned 19 out of 44 structures – 16 were destroyed and 3 were damaged - not counting smoke damage in all the buildings.  Approximately 150 acres of forest burned, 2/3 of the land.  Some of this area is considered catastrophic meaning the fire was so hot it killed the soil.  There is damage to the trees, damage to the creek, riparian areas, and the uplands.  Farm infrastructure is severely damaged including the barns/sheds, fences, irrigation system, most of the garden structures burned.  There was some damage to the well, water, irrigation and sewer infrastructure.  We are very lucky that due to the heroic efforts of fire crews, the fuels reduction work staff has undertaken year-after-year and the 40 acres of maintained, irrigated pastures surrounding the campus, most of the main structures were saved.  

Not all of the news about the fire is bad.  We have struggled for years to identify and build a secondary egress as an alternative evacuation route for our campus and our neighbors.  The dozer lines cut by fire crews may have created this route for us.  We will be working with the county to see if those bulldozer roads can be made permanent and what additional connections are needed. 

We have good insurance, thank you Church Mutual.  We don’t have the final offer, but we think we may be able to make substantial progress on repaying all of our debt and rebuild the deteriorating infrastructure that was plaguing all efforts to create a future for Woolman.  We may not have enough money to rebuild some of the buildings but we have been advised to use the money to invest in the infrastructure.  No one will donate money to replace pipes and electrical panels.  These are all issues that will need to be decided once we have a number to consider but we want to assure all of you that we intend to use the money responsibly and with an eye for the future.

As we begin land restoration efforts, we need to create management plans for the grounds, the farm, and the forest that make the best use of current knowledge and practices for healthy forests, watersheds, and land management.  We need to meet the current moment with Quaker values, and develop programs that foster diverse learning communities in the search for peace with social justice and environmental sustainability.  These must be designed with proper business plans that support overall financial stability.  These programs must support in-person and virtual learning since we expect Covid will be with us for a while.   If you have expertise in any of those areas, please contact us.

Click here for Sierra Friends Center website.

from Bob Fisher, Ben Lomond Quaker Center, and Sandra Schwartz, Sierra Friends Center (10/18/2020)