Resource conservation district of the santa monica mountains

Topanga, CA

https://www.rcdsmm.org/

Wildfire Preparedness and Community Engagement

Desired Skills/Traits:

  • BS in Environmental Science, Environmental Policy, Forestry, Landscape Architecture or related field.

  • ESRI ArcGIS and Survey 123; Experience or knowledge of wildland urban interface issues; Experience or knowledge of community engagement and oral presentations.

  • Wildfire Ecology; Conservation Biology and Restoration; Data management.

Openings: 1 of 1

rcdsmm1.jpg
Focus Area: Forestry/Fire

Climate Mitigation & Adaptation, Ecological Forestry, Fire Preparedness & Management, Education & Outreach

project breakdown

Research

15%

Planning

15%

Implementation

20%

Education & Outreach

50%

Goals & Needs

The RCD of the Santa Monica Mountains encompasses the Santa Monica Mountains from Point Mugu to Topanga State Park and includes the Simi Hills, Santa Catalina Island, Pierce College, Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Area and Chatsworth Reservoir. Our mission is to promote land stewardship and resource conservation through ecological research, conservation planning and design, habitat restoration and environmental education, while adhering to the highest standards of transparency and accountability as a public agency. Created in 2020, the Community Resilience department of the RCDSMM has quickly become one of the key regional stakeholders in wildfire mitigation and preparedness, and the lead agency in innovative projects such as the defensiblespace.org website. The Southern California region, including Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, is one of the most fire-prone environments in the world and has more homes and area burned per decade than any other region of the US. The Member will be working on a project funded by the California Fire Safe Council to promote sustainable defensible space principles and wildfire preparedness programs. The project focuses on under-resourced communities (e.g., low-income, language isolation, priority investment population...).

The Member will work under the supervision of the Community Resilience Coordinator on tasks ranging from community outreach and engagement to on-site home ignition zone and defensible space evaluations. Since 2019, the RCDSMM has been on the forefront of the concept of sustainable defensible space by creating the website defensiblespace.org to promote wildfire mitigation and preparedness actions that can support native ecosystems of Southern California. The challenge of this project it to reach populations located in or near the wildland-urban interface that are not usually reached by our programs. The Member will directly work with communities to build local hubs for wildfire resilience supported by the RCDSMM, and contribute actively to increasing wildfire resilience in Los Angeles County.

Capacity Building Projects

Project 1: Community Engagement. Outreach to communities and presentations of available programs to local community organizations. This includes presentations to Neighborhood Council Board Meetings, Municipal Fire Departments and City Emergency Managers, Homeowner Associations, local Fire Safe Councils etc. The Fellow will be representing the RCDSMM and build relationships with community leaders to scale up programs within the recently increased district boundary.

Project 2: Wildfire Home Evaluation Program Coordination. The Fellow will be coordinating trained volunteers to perform Wildfire Home Evaluations in the region and analyze data from evaluation reports to create a profile of the most common vulnerabilities to wildfire for each community. The Fellow will also be working on the technological transition of these programs.

Project 3: Wildfire Education Curriculum. In collaboration with the Education Department of the RCDSMM, the Fellow will continue developing the Wildfire Resilience curriculum for youth and adult education.

Project 4: GIS Mapping. The Fellow will develop maps and other GIS resources to support Community Resilience Programs. GIS products may include high fire severity zones and wildland-urban interface maps, home evaluation locations, socially-vulnerable communities etc.

Project 5: Fire Safe Councils Coordination. The Fellow will coordinate regular workshops with local Fire Safe Councils in the region to identify needs and coordinate programs to improve community awareness and resilience. 

Project 6: Implementation of Community Scale Defensible Space Project at the Sepulveda Basin. The Fellow will be part of the team working on implementing recommendation from the UCLA practicum and their landscape management recommendations.

Our previous GrizzlyCorps Fellow created several guides and step-by-step documentation to allow for a smooth transition and continued growth of our programs. Our goal for this year is to not only to continue scaling up these programs but to work on the implementation of a Community Scale Defensible Space Project at the Sepulveda Basin. The research portion of the project will be completed in June 2022 by a UCLA student team. 

Organizational & Community Highlights

Proudly serving the local community for over 57 years, the RCDSMM offers programs and services focused on watershed management, restoration, wildfire resilience, research, and education throughout the Santa Monica Mountains and surrounding areas. The RCDSMM staff is a small group of passionate educators, researchers and biologists working to promote land stewardship and resource conservation in one of the most biodiverse regions in the continental US. The landscape is a complex intermix of protected wildlands including National Park Service (NPS), state parks (SP), state conservancy (MRCA), local parks, private land trusts and development under multiple city and county jurisdictions, including Los Angeles County, the most populated county in the US. The County’s landscapes and ecosystems are under pressure from its 10 million residents (plus far more visitors), many of whom recreate in its protected open spaces on a regular basis.

Working with the RCDSMM is a great introduction to the landscape of local, regional and state organizations working in environmental conservation. The successful candidate will gain a deep understanding of the roles and responsibilities of each agency, and gain knowledge from projects led by our senior staff members. The mix of landscapes and communities in the RCDSMM service area and Los Angeles County is one of the most diverse in the country. The Community Resilience Department being the newest addition to the services provided by the RCDSMM makes it a truly dynamic work environment requiring solid organizational skills. The department currently manages 3 grants related to wildfire resilience and sustainable land use. The Community Resilience Coordinator is managing his time between on-site assessments, program development, and community outreach. The member will support the Coordinator in all those aspects, learning and developing skills in all three areas.

Living in Los Angeles or Ventura County and serving the local communities will provide the successful candidate with deep insights of the population diversity of Southern California, and help them develop the skills required for creating community programs designed to be self-sustaining in the long-term to make a lasting impact on resource conservation and wildfire resilience.

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