Two Lake County Non-Profit Organizations Partner with East Lake RCD to Support Reforestation in Fire-Ravaged Communities

#LakeCountyRising and Lake Area Rotary Club Fire Relief Fund collaborate. 

Lake County, Calif. – Two Lake County-based non-profit organizations have provided much- needed financial support to assist in the reforestation efforts for the areas ravaged by last September’s Valley Fire.

#LakeCountyRising is a collaborative fundraising effort of the Lake County Winegrape Commission, Lake County Winery Association, and Lake County Wine Alliance. The Lake Area Rotary Club Association (LARCA) is a non-profit foundation comprised of the 4 Rotary Clubs in Lake County – Lakeport, Middletown, Clearlake and Kelseyville. Together, these two entities have provided the necessary dollars to jumpstart the much needed reforestation in the fire affected areas.

They have allocated nearly $60,000 to the East Lake Resource Conservation District (RCD) to get the seedlings planted and the program in place. By collaborating with the El Dorado/Georgetown Divide RCD’s established native plant seed collection and propagation program, the funds have resulted in the greenhouse planting of 100,000 native conifers – mostly Ponderosa Pine but also including some Douglas Fir and Sugar Pine – that will be ready for distribution in time for the late Fall 2016/Spring 2017 planting season. The species available are suitable for higher elevation burned areas such as Cobb Mountain.

The discussions regarding funding for reforestation began in early October when Greg Giusti, County Director and Forestry Advisor for UC Cooperative Extension, and Korinn Woodard, District Conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation District (NRCS), began to formulate a plan that would make it possible to distribute seedling trees to private landowners as promptly as feasible.

“We determined that 100,000 trees could be needed this first year,” Giusti said. “We knew getting the seeds ordered and in the planting medium during the winter was the only way to have seedlings ready for planting in late 2016, early 2017.”

#LakeCountyRising representatives were interested in helping to support the effort but any donation would need to go to an established organization responsible for the program. At the same time, LARCA had also identified funding for reforestation efforts as a major priority.
That’s when East Lake Resource Conservation District (RCD) decided they could help bring this monumental effort to fruition.

“An experienced agency was needed to lead this effort, and our Board agreed that we had the experience and resources to make it happen, if funds were available.” East Lake President Charlotte Griswold said.

This is where #LakeCountyRising and LARCA stepped up to the plate. Timing was of the essence as seeds would need to be purchased in time for winter planting in order to have seedling stock available by late 2016. “It was evident there was urgency, so we presented it to our Steering Committee and they wholeheartedly supported it,” said Debra Sommerfield, president of the Lake County Winegrape Commission, one of the three organizations that established the #LakeCountyRising fundraising effort.

“Getting our forest lands replanted as soon as possible is a cornerstone in the healing process of the spirit of these communities. The LARCA Fire Relief Committee identified that as a top priority from day one and we are extremely pleased to be partnering with these other agencies to get that done” said Andy Peterson, chair of the LARCA Fire Relief Committee.
“The intention is to make conifer seedlings available for planting each winter for the next few years at a pace that will align with the community rebuilding process and demand”, Griswold said. “We expect to work with NRCS to start taking advance orders before the end of April and to partner with the Ag and Natural Resources programs at area high schools to organize several community planting projects.”

#LakeCountyRising is a fundraising effort to support community rebuilding in the areas ravaged by the Valley Fire with a focus on livelihood, housing, and community needs. The effort was initiated by three Lake County organizations – the Lake County Winegrape Commission, the Lake County Winery Association, and the Lake County Wine Alliance, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that manages the collection and distribution of tax-deductible donations.

#LakeCountyRising works with local organizations and government agencies to identify the most pressing community needs and, to date, has raised more than $800,000 and has distributed approximately $250,000 to more than 20 community- based organizations so far to assist with post-fire recovery. To learn more or to donate, visit:

LARCA is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization comprised of the 4 Rotary Clubs in Lake County: Lakeport, Kelseyville, Clearlake and Middletown. The Fire Relief Committee was formed just 2 days after the outbreak of the Valley Fire and to date has raised nearly $700,000 with over $300,000 distributed so far to the businesses, individuals and communities affected by the 2015 fires. To learn more or to donate visit:
East Lake Resource Conservation District
889 Lakeport Blvd., Lakeport, CA 95453

Lake County Rising Fire Relief Fund
P.O. Box 530, Kelseyville, CA 95451

Lake Area Rotary Club Association (LARCA) Fire Relief Fund
P.O. Box 2921, Clearlake, CA 95422