Southern California Regional Profile

Concluding Recommendations From Interviews

When interviewing experts who work on Southern California land management related to wildfire resilience, we asked participants if they had recommendations for increasing community and ecological resilience to wildfire. In addition to the findings already shared pertaining to specific pillars of resilience, some key big picture themes emerged from interviews. We conclude by highlighting a few of those recommendations. 

1) Recognize that one size does not fit all for the state’s solutions for fire resilience. The Southern California region encompasses distinct ecosystems and development pressures which lead to unique challenges and opportunities. This means that solutions that work in Northern California for addressing wildfire resilience do not always work in Southern California, especially in shrubland ecosystems. These nuances need to be voiced at the state policy level. At the same time, Southern California is ahead of the rest of the state in terms of experiencing frequent fire. The knowledge that the fire management and conservation communities have gained in Southern California could be shared to inform efforts in other regions. 

2) Appreciate the diversity within the Southern California region. The region is incredibly diverse in terms of both ecosystems and human communities. Similar to how shrublands and forests must be managed differently, divsere approaches will be needed to increase community resilience to wildfire through public engagement and access to resources. More targeted efforts need to be made to reach the most vulnerable communities. Capacity also varies greatly across the region, with some counties having a long-standing history of doing conservation planning and fire management, while others are just getting started. Awareness of these differences is critical for tailoring projects to meet the needs of local areas more effectively. 

3) Make novel collaborations part of the solution. Many interviewees emphasized the importance of regional collaboration, including a need for new partnerships with organizations that have not traditionally been involved in fire resilience planning, such as city planning departments, municipal governments, and the California Department of Transportation. Increasing wildfire resilience, especially in the Southern California region, requires a more holistic approach because wildfire is also connected to other challenges that the region is experiencing related to housing shortages, transportation, drought, and climate change. Considering these connections together can help inform smarter regional planning. 

4) Recognize that all actions and investments have trade-offs. Management actions and areas of investment that benefit some objectives might be detrimental to others. Treating sensitive shrubland ecosystems to increase nearby community resilience to wildfire is a key example of this. However, one interviewee noted that acknowledging these trade-offs is helpful for allowing important conversations to happen and can facilitate conflicting values being better reconciled on a larger landscape scale.