What have RCDs been up to during Shelter in Place?

Man social distancing in field with face mask

Like everyone else in California, Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs) are adapting to California’s Shelter in Place Order by taking their meetings virtual and social distancing to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  Many continue to provide essential services like preparing communities for wildfire season and working in the field for certain projects. We have compiled a small sampling of the incredible work that the districts are doing in and on behalf of their communities.

Working from Home and Staying Connected

Snapshot of 12 faces during zoom meeting

Tahoe RCD’s executive director, Nicole Cartwright, is hosting weekly Coffee Chats with Tahoe RCD staff on Zoom. Almost all of their staff are able to work from home and keep projects moving. Photo courtesy of Tahoe RCD.

Snapshot of 9 faces during zoom meeting

Gold Ridge RCD snapped a shot of their remote Staff Zoom Meeting. Photo courtesy of Gold Ridge RCD.

Sonoma RCD’s staff member working from home is kept company by his backyard buddies. Photo courtesy of Sonoma RCD.

Preparing Communities for Fire and Maintaining Forest Health

Through the Tahoe Network of Fire Adapted Communities, the Tahoe RCD is releasing weekly fire preparation tips while at home.

The RCD of Tehama County is gearing up for the West Tehama Roadside Fuel Treatment Project. Since the in-person informational meeting was cancelled due to the Shelter in Place Order, the RCD created a video clip to inform residents about the Scope of Project Work, wildfire defensible space, and home hardening. They held a follow-up conference call to answer any questions.

The RCD of Greater San Diego County, in partnership with the Fire Safe Council of San Diego County, continues to provide fire safety assistance to the county through online meetings, newsletters, and workshops. In addition, they are offering chipping and defensible space support in a limited scope.

The Sonoma RCD is continuing to conduct essential field work when it is safe to do so. One example is continuing fuels reduction work at a property that burned in the 2017 Tubbs Fire.

Supporting Farmers and Ranchers

In partnership with UC Cooperative Extension, the RCD of Greater San Diego County is hosting virtual Healthy Soils Program application technical assistance. Zoom calls are held every Thursday, 3pm to 4pm. The Gold Ridge RCD is hosting call-in technical assistance through their soil health specialist, and the Mendocino County RCD is holding Healthy Soils Program Office Hours. Many more RCDs are offering virtual support to their communities, where farmers and ranchers can call or video chat to receive remote assistance for applying for cost-share programs like the CDFA Healthy Soils Program.

The Napa County RCD held “Sheep & Grapes,” a free, two-part online workshop about the production, soil health, and climate benefits of integrating sheep into the vineyard. Attendees heard from Wine Country farmers, as well as university and extension specialists.

Food Security

Through the Farm to Family Program, the RCD of Greater San Diego provides bilingual education to low-income families learn about the connection between food, health, and well-being. During the pandemic, they have been able to switch learning elements of the program online, and provide home delivery of CSA boxes to the participating families.

K-12 Education at Home

Education Coordinator Jelly Kahler leads a virtual urban environmental tour. Photo courtesy of the RCD of the Santa Monica Mountains.

The RCD of the Santa Monica Mountains is directing their efforts towards distance learning! Their small but mighty education team, while observing physical distancing guidelines, is getting outside and taking students on virtual field trips through creeks, wildlife reserves and even urban jungles. In support of teachers and parents attempting to home school students, RCD educators will deliver lessons to go along with their virtual field trips.

RCDs are active on social media, connecting families with virtual learning resources so they can stay engaged with the outdoors while school is not in session.

Earth Day with Resource Conservation Districts

The Contra Costa RCD held a virtual Earth Week with free presentations every day from April 20 – 24 on topics like backyard birding, the history of Earth Day, and more.

The Napa County RCD participated their community’s Earth Day Virtual Festival. The platform was be live for two full weeks in celebration of Earth Day, from April 15 – 30 with virtual booths and activities. Click here for the website.

The Mendocino County RCD held an Earth Day social media blitz on their Facebook with Earth Day themed posts (and some wonderful photos of birds!).

The Solano RCD partnered with Cleanup Solano and several other organizations in a virtual Earth Week campaign from April 19 – 25.

The Trinity County RCD participated in the National Environmental Education Foundation’s Environmental Education Week and shared resources through their Facebook for families to complete at home.

RCD staff shared what Earth Day means to them in a series of videos posted on social media. Check them out! They will brighten your day: RCD of Greater San Diego County, Inland Empire RCD, and RCD of the Santa Monica Mountains.