Northern California Regional Profile

Concluding Recommendations from Interviews

photo credit: keppet

When interviewing experts who work on Northern 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) Invest in Tribal communities and empower them to reclaim traditional stewardship practices. Many interviewees described growing efforts to incorporate Tribal perspective and Traditional Ecological Knowledge into land management strategies. These partnerships have created new opportunities for cultural burning on public and private lands. However, it is important that these collaborations are building capacity for Tribes to have the skill, knowledge, and ability to steward their ancestral lands and work with their neighbors, rather than to expect Tribal leaders to teach non-indigenous organizations how to integrate traditional ecological knowledge. As many Tribal communities endeavor to reclaim traditional practices and grow capacity, it should also be recognized that many of these communities are also actively engaged in broader communities and collaborations, and they are already valuably contributing to regional resilience.

2) Engage broader communities to build capacity and gain social license. In addition to Tribal communities, many other communities also have local knowledge and expertise that can critically contribute to increasing ecological and community resilience. This potential is evident in the many grassroots efforts that have flourished across the region, such as volunteer fire departments, fire safe councils, prescribed burn associations, and other community-based organizations. However, there are many areas in which local communities have not yet been engaged in this work. Furthermore, long-standing political and ideological divides have historically barred consensus over land management in the Northern California region and can make it difficult to gain public support for projects. Bridging these divides can give rise to new collaborations and increase capacity to address current challenges.

3) Support bold public leadership. Many interviewees described how public agency leaders have played an important role in championing partnership agreements and helping local organizations to navigate complex regulatory systems. Bold leaders who are willing to advocate for prescribed burning and other vegetation treatment projects despite the risk of public criticism or litigation from stakeholder groups that oppose these actions have been instrumental in accomplishing work that benefits ecological and community resilience in the region. Interviewees believed that it was thus important to support this leadership.