Field Notes

Wildfire Awareness Month: Community Connections are the Key to Wildfire Resilience

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At WRA, we believe that residents know what is best for their communities. 

And because wildfire is a fact of life in California, we also know that wildfire resilience must go beyond actively managing forests, thinning understories, and hardening homes to mitigate the spread. It is also about encouraging a culture of informed, connected, and engaged neighbors and community members to identify priorities and keep each other safe. 

As an example, WRA recently led a successful community planning meeting, in partnership with the City of El Cajon and with participation from Heartland Fire & Rescue, to get feedback from community members about the vegetation management planning efforts starting in their neighborhoods. 

As part of a grant awarded by the San Diego River Conservancy, the City has taken the preliminary steps to develop some of their first ever wildfire resilience plans and they wanted to hear from the community first and foremost about what they should prioritize. In that meeting, City staff took away constructive feedback direct from community members, learned how to better share information and updates to the community, and provided some helpful information on what wildfire resilience options are applicable and appropriate to the region. 

WRA’s efforts to support wildfire resilience in local communities are varied and multi-disciplinary. WRA teams:

  • Lead the development of vegetation management plans for clients like Eden Housing.
  • Develop Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPP) for organizations like Fire Safe Sonoma.
  • Assist with fuels treatment planning on city-owned open space lands for clients like Novato Fire Protection District, including developing a web-based, GIS mapping tools to identify high potential parcels.
  • Provide grant writing and management services for city departments such as the Berkeley Fire Department to fund a vegetation reduction resident assistance program.
  • Identify funding opportunities for California Fire Safe Council to provide more services to their constituents.

This work comes full circle when we are able to connect back to the communities that are a part of it. To deepen these connections, WRA provides community engagement services to support a more holistic understanding for what communities find important about wildfire resilience.

We believe that a community meeting is successful when the community member and convener have both learned and are both heard. We are excited to partner with more organizations to engage their communities to collectively build a safer and more resilient future together.

Contact us for resilience support!

Molly Curley O’Brien

To learn more about our capabilities, download our Community Resilience brochure.

Stay tuned for more informational content in our Wildfire Awareness Month series!