Sunrise from Tunnel View in Yosemite National Park Monday amidst smoke from the Ferguson Fire. It was eerie at the famous viewpoint channeling Ansel Adams with nobody there but NPS rangers manning checkpoint. Arriving home I’ve had time to reflect on the brutal fire season so far and what we’ve lost. I celebrated my 30th birthday on the fireline at the Ferguson, joining the Horseshoe Meadow Hotshots on a firing operation along Hwy 41. The gift of being present and having the privilege to document history was amazing, coupled with the beauty of Yosemite. However, it was tempered by the stark reality of the passing of Brian Hughes and Braden Varney, and now the most recent LODD at the Ranch Fire. Everyday driving the roads and hiking the fire lines taking pictures I was constantly looking around for snags. The trees were in such bad shape that the feller bunchers (machines that cut down trees) only needed to push on tree trunks with their pneumatic claws, and trees fell right over like matchsticks.
Anyway, where I’m going with this is, I’d like to ask you for a belated birthday present. If you’ve enjoyed the photography and writing I share, may I suggest donating to the @ericmarshfoundationwildland or the @wffoundation ? Even $5 or $10 makes a difference. Perhaps your home was saved by firefighters or you’ve been touched by their selflessness. Here’s an indirect way to “buy them a beer” by helping out two organizations that help out the helpers when they’re in need. The best gift I could receive is knowing my work is having a positive effect on public perception, awareness, and support of the work wildland firefighters do and the new reality facing them. This past week on assignment for the US Forest Service I had a glimpse of having my own skin in the game, missing family events and life moments, the constant need for situational awareness, etc. I’ve only scratched the surface, but your support of those organizations means the world. Be safe out there. - SP
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