Your support mobilizes science for wildfire recovery

December 2017

Dear Friends,

Our entire community and the natural world surrounding us took quite a beating this October as wildfires ravaged the North Bay. Lives were lost. Homes were lost. And our environment was deeply scarred. Because of this, there has never been a more critical moment for you—as someone who loves nature—to support Pepperwood.

This holiday season I ask that you make as generous a year-end gift as you can to support the renewal of our landscapes and the science that will guide our communities into a brighter future.


After being scorched by the Tubbs Fire, many Pepperwood oaks still display green leaves.

Based on our initial survey, we have estimated that 2,800 of Pepperwood’s 3,200 acres burned in the Tubbs Fire. We are extremely grateful that at least 50% of our impacted areas appear to have burned at low intensity. This gives us great hope for the future of the landscape and the wildlife that call it home. After all, they are adapted to the fire regime of the Coast Ranges. In fact, as shoots of tender grass poke out of the ashes and oak trees green up after the rains, we are already seeing signs of renewal at Pepperwood. We know that renewal will continue here and throughout the North Bay—especially with the support of people like you.

At the outset of the Tubbs Fire, our Sentinel Site was up and running, as it has been each day for the past five years. This network of sensors, instruments, and cameras has been painting a vivid picture of the natural environment at our 3,200 acre preserve, generating a gold mine of data on everything from soil moisture to wildlife presence. For five years, this data has been used by local and regional agencies and organizations to help maintain our water supplies, keep our forests healthy and help wildlife survive and thrive. Now, in the wake of the fire, Pepperwood finds itself with an opportunity to create a comprehensive pre- and post-fire climate-ecosystem assessment of the fires that hit Northern California.

Deer graze on freshly sprouted grass adjacent to the site where Pepperwood’s barn once stood.

Pepperwood is in a unique position to bring world-class science to bear on the many challenges facing our North Bay community during this period of recovery and renewal—and we need you to make it happen.

Not surprisingly, much of our monitoring equipment was lost in the fire. It is imperative we repair it quickly so that our scientists can continue to collect and analyze data that will guide decision-making to prepare our region for future fires. Please make as generous a gift as you can to support the rebuilding of our Sentinel Site and the expansion of our science program.

Your support will maximize our ability to study the post-fire landscape and to use our land management expertise to develop recovery strategies applicable throughout Northern California. Your gift will also allow us to serve as science advisor to local land trusts, open space districts, water districts, parks, and other natural resource managers to help nature fully rebound.

Your gift will be instrumental in expanding the scope of our post-fire research, helping scientists analyze data, and getting science-based insights into the hands of decision-makers who are relying on it to prepare for the future.


Post-fire photo of Pepperwood’s Dwight Center for Conservation Science, which survived the fire with minimal damage.

The recent fires—and the other natural disasters our nation has experienced this year—have dramatically illustrated that we’re already in a period of extreme weather events in this era of climate change.

And science tells us these extreme events are only going to increase in frequency and severity. In order to get ahead of that curve, we have to understand that curve. That is Pepperwood’s role. Our researchers are dedicated to the continual analysis of our Sentinel Site data, studying how climate change is impacting the Northern California landscape, and helping us prepare for the future. We need your help to continue this vital work.

Pepperwood has an excellent track record of stewarding donor dollars to maximize each individual’s contribution. With an operating budget under $2M, we’re small enough to be nimble in response to even extreme environmental challenges. And with an entrepreneurial philosophy, an emphasis on partnerships, and an ever-growing community of supporters, we are capable of having a far-reaching impact. In fact, conservation organizations, open space districts, and private landowners looked to Pepperwood as a blueprint for land management before the fire. They will be looking to us for science-based guidance even more now. A gift from you will help the North Bay recover and make it more resilient in the future.

A mountain lion photographed at Pepperwood by a motion-activated camera just five days after the Tubbs Fire first hit the preserve.

With your help, there is a promising future for Northern California.

Pepperwood is poised to serve as a platform for understanding this fire, evaluating how effective our forest management strategies were in mitigating the burn severity, and documenting how the land will recover. Moreover, with its long-term research and accompanying data, Pepperwood is in position to contribute to public-private collaborative efforts and to support community education on best practices to ensure that our region’s beautiful and diverse natural habitats—and the human communities that depend on them—are able to withstand the challenges of a changing climate. Your gift ensures Pepperwood will fulfill these urgent roles.

As the recent firestorm so clearly shows, Pepperwood’s work to understand our local landscape isn’t just an academic matter. Your support will not only help Pepperwood rebuild, it will expand our reach and deepen our impact, helping us all be better prepared for the next set of challenges.


On the cusp of renewal and anticipating more unprecedented challenges, you are needed now more than ever. Please make a year-end gift today as generous as you can.


Thank you for supporting Pepperwood, the resilience of the North Bay, and the future of Northern California!


Lisa Micheli, PhD
President & CEO

 P.S.  I am extremely grateful for your support.

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