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Woolsey Fire in Southern California
Phillip Kilbridge
November 21, 2018 - 5:48pm

 

 

It is with tremendous sadness that I write to you today with an update on the Woolsey Fire in Southern California. As of this morning, it has consumed 97,000 acres and is 96% contained. Across California, recent fires have claimed dozens of lives and destroyed over ten thousand homes. In short, they have been devastating. 

NatureBridge in Southern California has been dramatically affected. Our hearts go out to Camp Shalom, a critical partner that has been “decimated.” Circle X Ranch, a National Park Service location that hosts our overnight camping program, was in the middle of the fire zone. With the overwhelming damage, it has become clear that we will not be able to offer programs in the Santa Monica Mountains for the foreseeable future. In this context, we have made the difficult decision to close our Southern California programs. This decision has forced difficult staffing reassignments and layoffs.

We are working to offer programs at our Yosemite campus for schools scheduled to attend NatureBridge Southern California in spring 2019. I am grateful to our staff who continue to prioritize enabling outdoor learning experiences for these kids.

We do believe that opportunities exist for future Southern California programming and we hope to build on the profound impact and critical partnerships we’ve developed over the last decade. As we consider these opportunities, it will be with a clear understanding that NatureBridge must be mission driven, mindful of stakeholders, fiscally responsible and strategically focused on the organization as a whole. 

Since 2009, over 20,000 students and their teachers have experienced our transformational programs in Southern California thanks to our dedicated staff and board. There are tens of thousands of Los Angeles-area kids who still need programs like ours every year.

Even as we wrestle with the harsh realities this Thanksgiving, it’s clear that our mission is more critical now than ever. For this, we are grateful for your support.