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Bringing Balance to Forests & Watersheds: Lomakatsi’s Restoration Initiatives
Tuesday September 8th of 2020 dawned exceptionally warm and dry in southern Oregon, an area parched from years of drought with very little of the winter precipitation that fills reservoirs and keeps the land green and vibrant. The weather forecast called for a “Red Flag Warning,” foretelling high winds with gusts of up to 50 mph to come. After years of wildfires in the region, creating a fifth and not-so-affectionately named “Smoke Season,” residents were wary. There wasn’t a lot of surprise when the fire began in a field in Ashland, but by the end of that night, the entire Rogue Valley would be in shock.
The Almeda Fire ripped northwest along Bear Creek from Ashland through the neighboring towns of Talent, Phoenix, and Medford, destroying more than 3,000 homes and businesses, leaving over 8,500 people homeless, and taking the lives of three people. It stands as the most destructive fire in Oregon’s recorded history. Today, over two years later, the recovery is still ongoing.
Grassroots Giving—Lomakatsi Restoration Project
For this reason and many others, we’re grateful for the efforts of Lomakatsi Restoration Project, our Grassroots Giving partner for our Earth Day Sale. For more than 28 years, the
Ashland-based non-profit Lomakatsi has worked with communities in our home region of northern California and southern Oregon to help restore their ecosystems, as well as livelihoods, with their holistic approach to forestry and watershed restoration:
- Remember the forest.
- Remember the fire.
- Remember the wildlife.
- Remember the soil.
- Remember the people.
- Monitor and learn.
They define ecological restoration as: “The practice of renewing and restoring degraded, damaged, or destroyed ecosystems and habitats in the environment by active human intervention and action.” And they accomplish this by involving local indigenous communities and wisdom, paying skilled workers well, educating and training new workers, and collaborating with community members and organizations on landscape-scale initiatives such as Ashland Forest Resiliency and the West Bear All-Lands Restoration Project.
Immediately after the Almeda Fire, Lomakatsi’s involvement in post-fire ecological restoration efforts was requested by the Inter-Tribal Ecosystem Restoration Partnership, a group composed of regional tribal leaders and organizations, and endorsed by Chief Jim Prevatt, a tribal elder of the Shasta People of the Northernmost Shasta Band and land base called Kohosadee. Of particular importance was the confluence of Ashland Creek with Bear Creek, near the ignition point of the fire, a sacred place of cultural importance where indigenous people had historically camped.
Their riparian restoration team, with support from an inter-tribal crew, helped install 10,000 feet of straw waddles along Bear Creek to prevent erosion and help protect habitat for salmon and other wildlife. Lomakatsi is currently working with the City of Ashland, The Freshwater Trust, and other partners on a long-term post-fire restoration project along Bear Creek and Ashland Pond, which includes planting culturally-important species in partnership with tribal communities. They have planted over 9,500 native trees and shrubs within the fire footprint along Bear Creek to date.
With so many of our forests in the West stressed by drought, wildfires, and infestations by insects like the Western pine beetle, wise and skillful restorative efforts are crucial to giving our ecosystems an opportunity to heal. Lomakatsi takes their instruction from nature, providing assistance where it’s needed and monitoring for feedback to ensure beneficial outcomes. Let’s learn what we can do to help!
From the Earth, For the Earth
Not only is April Earth Month, it just so happens that Arbor Day is also occurring during our Earth Day Sale period on Friday April 28, making our partnership with Lomakatsi perfectly synchronous. Arbor Day’s roots go back to a tree planting festival in the Spanish village of Mondoñedo in 1594. The first celebration in the US was centered in Nebraska City, Nebraska on April 10, 1872, with over a million trees planted in the state that day. Today, Arbor Day is celebrated all over the world, making it one of the largest secular observances next to Earth Day.
Shepherd’s Dream will be donating 2% of sales during our Earth Day Sale period (April 21-May 1, 2023) to Lomakatsi. If you’ve been dreaming of healthy, sustainable, chemical-free, Farm-to-Bedroom items made with thoughtful materials like EcoWool® and organic cotton, now is a spectacularly good time to buy:
- 15% off pillows, comforters, and Shepherd’s Dream luxe duvet covers
- 10% off ALL mattresses and furniture
To learn more about Lomakatsi and their work, please visit their website at Lomakatsi.org.
To make a direct donation, please go here.
Thank you for your support of this stellar organization, and as always, sweet dreams!