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Master of Environmental Science and Management: Master's Group Project

Equity & Wildfire Resilience: Recommendations for Inclusive Wildfire Management in Ventura County

Aerial view of wildfire and smoke

Group Members: Brianna (Bri) Baker, Yvonne Dinh, Elena Ortiz, Alison Sells, Iris Foxfoot

Faculty Advisors: Sarah Anderson

Client: Ventura Regional Fire Safe Council



Final Report

Executive Summary

Final Presentation


As climate change increases the frequency and severity of wildfires across California, including in Ventura County, there is an urgent need for improved wildfire preparedness and response. Two of the most destructive fires in California’s modern history were in Ventura County: the 2017 Thomas Fire and 2018 Woolsey Fire destroyed 1,063 and 1,643 structures, respectively. Socially marginalized communities are particularly vulnerable to the effects of wildfire because they disproportionately lack access to the resources and services necessary to prepare and recover. Marginalization reduces their inclusion in planning. A prominent tool for community-based wildfire risk reduction, Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPP), can be tailored to address social vulnerability. In collaboration with the Ventura Regional Fire Safe Council, this project identified communities in Ventura County with heightened marginalization and risk of wildfire, and needs that can inform the forthcoming CWPP update. Spatial analysis of social vulnerability and wildfire risk, a county-wide survey, and focus groups revealed that non-English speakers, women, people of color, and newer residents in Ventura County are less prepared for wildfire than other groups. They face disproportionate barriers to wildfire preparedness, specifically related to evacuation. Based on these findings, we recommend an expansion of traditional risk mitigation programs, strengthened community engagement efforts, and strategies that increase community resources and leadership to decouple marginalization and wildfire vulnerability. Effective methods and lessons learned for responsibly engaging historically-excluded communities in the development of wildfire management plans that increase resilience to wildfire are applicable across the Western U.S.


Bren School: Louis Graup, PhD Candidate; Max Moritz, Adjunct Professor

Celine Moomey, Vegetation Management Officer, Ventura County Fire

Dr. Shefali Juneja Lakhina, Co-Founder, Wonder Labs

Amy Berry, Founder, Tahoe Fund 

Dr. Daniel Godwin, Director of Programs and Partnerships, Ember Alliance

Dr. Faith Kearns, Academic Coordinator, California Institute of Water Resources 

Residents of Piru, Piru Community Council

Residents of Santa Paula, Promotoras Y Promotores Foundation

The DiPaola Foundation

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