Climate change poses significant threats to communities across the state of California and to our economic and resource stability. California’s farm and forest communities face some of the most severe threats to rural livelihoods. This is driven by an unprecedented rise in the prevalence and severity of drought and wildfires, among other natural disasters and ecosystem shifts. At the same time, farm and forest communities have the potential to provide unique solutions by incorporating regenerative agriculture practices and ecological forestry, which can help sequester carbon and build resilience.
Governor Gavin Newsom’s 30 by 30 executive order announcement, issued on October 7, 2020, describes that: “California’s lands provide an important resource in limiting the impacts of climate change while protecting our communities from climate change-driven events such as wildfire, floods, droughts and extreme heat. The state’s natural and working lands sustain our economy, support our unique biodiversity and contribute to the global food supply.”
GrizzlyCorps recognizes that California must reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon in order to protect our states biodiversity, mitigate the impacts of climate change, and support community resilience. Forest and farm communities in coordination with GrizzlyCorps can provide the necessary education, research, planning, and implementation that will be key actors in carbon sequestration and taking climate action. However, research has shown that local communities struggle to address these threats when they lack relevant, informed, and dynamic plans to take appropriate climate action. For example, farmers struggling with drought and water shortages may not adequately understand the opportunities available to them to incorporate regenerative practices that would increase soil water retention. Local initiatives to demonstrate and educate producers about the benefits of such practices could drastically improve a region's capacity to uphold a resilient food supply chain during times of disruption. Similarly, in forest communities, education and demonstration of how air quality levels will be closely monitored in the case of prescribed burns can improve community response to that action. Both of these examples could benefit from services offered by a GrizzlyCorps Fellow to improve coordinated efforts to enhance education, planning, and implementation.
GrizzlyCorps responds to the challenges of community resilience by providing placements for twenty AmeriCorps members to promote regenerative agri-food systems, and fire and resilience. Members will work in conjunction and coordination with rural community entities including Cooperative Extension, Resource Conservation Districts, and NGOs, to expand the use of regenerative techniques. In forest communities, members will work in conjunction with local, state, and federal agencies, forest and industry groups, and NGOs to expand the use of techniques to reduce fire risk and improve watershed and soil health (and increase carbon uptake with broader benefits). In farming communities, fellows will work with local producers to improve irrigation, nutrient management, rotational grazing and other ecological practices. In each case, the work will translate to increased resilience and land treated with aggregate impacts for California agricultural and forest lands.