As the Smoke Clears: Tuolumne County's Beat Goes On
Fall is a particularly beautiful time of year in the Sierra Nevada, especially when the trees have their brilliant colors of yellow and red as they do in Sonora this week. It is hard to believe that only a month ago our towns were filled with smoke, that we struggled with the knowledge that our town might not survive the economic hardships brought on by the Rim Fire, and that we lost many of our favorite recreation areas. In our Sonora downtown office we share space with the owner of YExplore, John DeGrazio, who wrote a great piece on the fire featured by the Calaveras Enterprise. I was invited through Sierra Business Council to Washington DC where I testified in front of Congress regarding how climate change conditions and fires like the Rim Fire are impacting our communities. So much excitement and concern surrounded us during this time, but as the leaves have started to fall and the nights have become cooler, it has been hard for those of us affected to forget what it was like to have our county in flames.
As the smoke cleared and our community started getting back to work, we got news of the federal government shutdown. Yosemite National Park, which had its visitor rate severely impacted by the Rim Fire, was this time really shut down, ironically on the park’s 123rd anniversary. This shutdown of Yosemite and other government run facilities created another tourism halt to our area. During this time, again YExplore’s DeGrazio had a chance to speak out when KQED stopped by our downtown Sonora office. In October KQED broadcast their story of their trip to Sonora, wherein DeGrazio explained that he had been forced to turn away guests from all over the world that had planned to visit Yosemite. He’d had to refund each one of those trips. This shutdown was one more large hit to our small community.
Through each hit, each negative impact, the same holds true: the human spirit endures, it inspires, and it excels. Our community has risen up, has continued to look on the positive side and support one another. There has been a strong sense of the “pull yourself up by your boot straps” attitude to move forward, to create a voice, and to make a comeback after the effects of this summer and early fall.
Let’s continue on this path. Let’s continue to display a beautiful spirit to move Tuolumne County forward, and continue to support one another. Let’s support each other by attending one another’s events, by actively supporting our family and friend’s local businesses and buying local. Over the past few weeks it has made me very happy to see how many wonderful activities and events our community has created including: Mural in a Day, Vision Sonora, 2nd Saturday Art Night, Small Town Cheer, The Greater Good Art in our own 1 E Linoberg, Sonora office - the list goes on!
So what will we say happened after the smoke of the Rim Fire cleared? We’ll be able to say that Tuolumne's enduring spirit lives on.