Regional Forest & Fire Capacity

Department: Department of Conservation

Program Description: The Department of Conservation’s Regional Forest and Fire Capacity (RFFC) Program supports local and regional efforts to assess the resilience of their forests and communities, identify forest health and wildfire prevention priorities, build local partner capacity, and develop a pipeline of shovel ready fuels reduction projects. With the passage of AB 9 (Wood/2021) and a sustained increase in funding, DOC has expanded the RFFC Program to nearly all fire-prone regions in California, each developing a long-range strategy for wildfire resilience and a consistent pipeline of high-value projects that can be executed in the next several years.

Most recently, this increased funding has enabled the Regional Forest and Fire Capacity program to award additional block grants to expand further across Los Angeles County in the Upper Los Angeles and San Gabriel Watersheds as well as the Inland Empire in Riverside County. The Department is also working to provide coverage for eastern Sonoma County in the North Bay watershed.

Program Impact: In 2022 the Regional Forest and Fire capacity program increased funding for its 11 block grantees and executing two new block grants for the Los Angeles and San Gabriel River Watersheds and the Inland Empire in Riverside County, in turn supporting more than 100 subgrants and contracts for fire resilience activities, coordinating more than 200 organizations and 500 practitioners, cooperating with or co-managing projects with 30 California Native American Tribes, providing training and workforce development opportunities to nearly 1000 Californians, and accelerating at least 250,000 acres of forest health and fuel reduction projects toward shovel-readiness.

Regional Forest and Fire Capacity Program was able to scale from a phase 1 pilot program in specific areas throughout the State to now cover every fire-prone region in California expanding programs in Lake, Napa, Colusa, Yolo, Solano, Glenn, Tehama, Shasta, Southern Siskiyou, Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange Counties.

Funds also:

  • Developed critical capacity to enable local wildfire resilience partners to scale up their impact to overcome systematic and structural barriers in implementing resilience goals.
  • Finalized phase 1 Regional Priority Plans in the California North Coast watersheds, Inland Empire, and the Santa Monica Mountains, and Greater San Diego as well as many other local collaborative planning efforts, producing 367 high priority projects through partnerships with at least 100 local organizations across Southern California.
  • Supported the launch of the North Coast Regional Resilience Plan, adaptive prioritization and planning framework, and a pipeline of projects with more than 1000 priority projects in different stages of readiness integrated with a novel project tracking and reporting tool.
  • Facilitated block grants to implement Regional Priority Plans in the North Coast, Sierra, Central, and Southern California regions.
  • Completed more than 50 scalable demonstration projects, advancing restoration, reforestation, workforce, biomass utilization, mapping, and modelling throughout the state.
  • Launched indigenous conservation corps programs in San Diego and Los Angeles Counties.
  • Execution of a unique bilateral agreement between the Tahoe Conservancy and Washoe Tribe to coordinate and consult on wildfire and natural resource issues within the greater Tahoe region.
  • Expanded a prescribed fire association mentorship and support program, empowering and expanding prescribed fire expertise, resulting in the development of several new prescribed burn associations.

Supported a tribal capacity grant program implemented by the Indigenous Stewardship Network, an indigenous-led non-profit organization that supports the expansion of indigenous-led forest and fire cultural practices. Other activities that have been funded to date and those currently under consideration include:

  • Continuing RFFC regional collaboration, planning, and prioritization efforts
  • Leveraging RFFC funding with grant applications
  • Organizational development to build capacity in the area of forest and fire project development, funding, and implementation
  • Development of shovel-ready forest and fire resilience projects
  • Expansion of Prescribed and cultural fire training and networks
  • Working with the USFS and implementing 3rd party NEPA projects
  • Assisting Fire Safe Councils with community protection project identification, prioritization, funding, and implementation
  • Developing invasive pest control programs for major pests such as Gold-Spotted Oak Borer beetle

Further activities are planned through 2024.

  • Completion of Regional Priority Plans in all regions
  • Continued growth of Prescribed Burn Associations and prescribed fire training
  • Expansion of shovel ready project development
  • Growth of Indigenous Stewardship Network
  • Strengthening of formal governance in regions