What's New at Sierra Outdoor School
and Conference Center
Conferences and Retreats
Our lodges, kitchen and dining hall are renovated, retrofitted, and ready for conferences and retreats! Let us help you plan business, professional development, church, and family retreats in an exceptional setting. We are minutes away from Mother Lode and alpine destinations so… make us your home base for exploration!
Sierra Nevada Energy Watch
We are excited to be a part of the Sierra Energy Watch program because it fits into our mission and curriculum in three ways: it helps to reduce our energy footprint, it provides efficiency and cost savings to our school, and it provides us with another avenue to educate students about resource management. For more details on our savings see Sierra Business Council.
Forest Institute for Teachers
Sierra Outdoor School hosts the Forestry Institute for Teachers (FIT). FIT is a professional development program for teachers that are interested in learning about California’s forest environment. Log onto www.forestryinstitute.org or call 1-888-FIT-PROJ for more information.
SOS’s is officially a PG& E Solar School! See the Solar Panel on our campus. Select the link at the top of the page titled “Show Solar Data” to see what the panel produces each day.
Fuel Reduction and Maintaining a Healthy Forest
One of the biggest threats to Sierra Outdoor School and the surrounding community is wild land fires. The foothills and lower elevations of the Sierra Nevada mountain ranges are susceptible to fire due to a buildup of natural fuels. Brush, timber and grasses were once held in check by periodic low heat fires. In fact most of California’s native plant species are adapted to periodic fires. Native Americans would set fires in the higher elevations in the late fall before they moved down to lower elevations for the winter. These fires would allow for abundant spring growth of bulbs, and grass seeds that provided food for them as well as game animals. The Native Americans understood the role of fire in their environment. However, in modern times as populations have increased and cities and homes encroach into the wild lands this natural process of fire has been suppressed.
Suppression has caused a buildup of plant fuels and has changed the nature of fire in our region. These fires burn hotter and are more damaging to the environment. With this in mind SOS has, over the last few years, completed a number of fuels reduction projects. These projects thin and clear brush pulverizing it into a mulch-like material. This material will decay, and provide nutrients for the soil. Removing these fuels will prevent fire from moving from the ground, into the brush, into small trees and then into the canopy of large trees. Sometimes we refer to these fuels as ladders fuels.
In addition, removal and disturbance of these fuels allows for grasses, wild flowers, and other plants to regain a foot hold in the forest. SOS has removed ten acres of brush around the school, has completed a two mile shaded fuel break to the community of Cedar Ridge and has reduced 2 miles of fuels along Big Hill Road. These fuels breaks connect with other fuel breaks in the county and will protect homes as well as natural resources. These projects were conducted with cooperation of the Stanislaus National Forest, CalFire, the Highway 108 FireSafe Council, and the Bureau of Land Management. All projects were funded through grants with no cost to the community. SOS was happy to take the lead to ensure that our community is fire safe!