Volunteers help rehabilitate Tamarack Fire burn area

Published: Oct. 25, 2023 at 3:56 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Back in the summer of 2021, the Tamarack Fire got everyone’s attention as it burned west to east from California to Nevada.

Near Markleville, the Indian Creek Recreation Area took a hit as the forested area burned to the ground. The Tamarack Fire burned more than 68,000 acres in the end.

Volunteers hope to create a new beginning for the recreation area.

From Patagonia, and Vail Resorts the 50-plus volunteers will plant 800 trees before the day is over.

“It is quite easy,” says Christine Galvez, a Patagonia Volunteer. “They tell us what to do. Make sure you are not doing it too close to one another. So, they can get the nurture they need. Make sure the trees won’t fall on top of it. And you just go along with it.”

Under the guidance of the Sugar Pine Foundation, Patagonia volunteers work in groups to plant a total of 800 trees--most Jeffrey Pine and some Incense Cedar Trees which when grown will fill a now barren area.

At Patagonia workers are paid for 18 hours of volunteer work for the charity of their choosing.

Amanda Scott who helps gather volunteers, says working with the Sugar Pine Foundation is not a tough sell to her colleagues.

“Seeing how they can help out,” says Scott. “You know places like this that have been affected by fire. And just getting out, getting their hands dirty. It is way more fun than actually working.”

Scott says team building takes place on days like today. Even though it’s cold, warm friendships can form as well. The work is not too labor intensive.

The planted trees are marked with a wooden frame or pink flag so they can be located next spring.

“People don’t even wear gloves,” says Maria Merchiva, with the Sugar Pine Foundation. “I wear gloves all the time. But they want to touch the dirt. It is a little bit more of a real experience. Maybe we are fed up sitting in front of a computer.”

Maria says only two more tree plantings are scheduled this year before winter hits the area.

And although rehabilitating an area after a massive fire seems daunting, these volunteers hope to return years from now to see their handywork reach to the sky.

This is only the second time the Sugar Pine Foundation has worked with the BLM in a tree planting project.

This spring they will return with weed mats in hopes of securing the trees’ survival.