The following article features insight and quotes from our Executive Director, Chet Work.


As Southern California communities look to rebuild after enduring devastating wildfires and mudslides, there is a growing call for more focus on forest resilience and smarter planning.

Apocalyptic. Catastrophic. Devastating. Residents of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties used these words to describe the 281,893-acre Thomas Fire that started in early December and the subsequent deadly mudslides that hit a month later. These natural disasters killed at least 22 people and destroyed more than 1,100 structures. Wildlands took a hit, too, with more than half the area burned in the Thomas Fire in either national forest or locally protected lands.

The Thomas Fire capped the deadliest and most destructive year for wildfires in California’s history. Research has shown that a warming climate has already doubled the area impacted by wildfires across the West in the past three decades, and things could get worse.

As Southern California rebuilds, will it be back to business as usual, or will a climate change-induced “new normal” help spur efforts at greater resilience?

One area of particular interest to environmentalists, county officials and researchers is the wildland-urban interface – the zone of transition between unoccupied land and human development.

Read the rest of the February 8 article by Michelaina Johnson here.