Mendocino County Fire Safe Council and Fire Safe Sonoma
*This position has been filled*
Sonoma and Mendocino Fire Safe Capacity Building and Community Engagement
Knowledge or interest in fire ecology, wildfire mitigation, rural communities, environmental compliance, sustainability
Research, communication, networking
Social Media campaigns
- Experience with ArcGiS, Excel, Powerpoint
Spanish Speaking a plus
Data collection and organization, risk analysis, familiarity with geospatial tools
Openings: 1 of 1
Focus Area: Forestry/Fire
Climate Mitigation & Adaptation, Fire Preparedness & Management, Education & Outreach
Education & Outreach
Goals & Needs
By working with two organizations our Fellow would have the opportunity to assist with a wide range of projects and collaborate with many stakeholders. Both Mendocino County Fire Safe Council (MCFSC) and Fire Safe Sonoma (FSS) are small but rapidly growing organizations that are passionate about becoming as effective as possible in reducing wildfire risks. In recent years, MCFSC has expanded from primarily neighborhood-level education, to playing a role in County policy formation, providing direct services like defensible space for income-qualified seniors and community chipping, managing fuel reduction road crews, implementing large scale fuel reduction projects, and managing home retrofitting grants. Over the past decade, FSS has developed a strong presence in Sonoma County and effectively enhanced community wildfire safety through projects like delivering sustainable landscaping education presentations to both the public and landscape professionals, low-income home assessments, roadside fuel reduction projects and completion of 7 local Community Wildfire Protection Plans each tailored to their unique communities. Given the complexity and urgency of the current need for action we expect the pace of expansion for both our organizations to continue. Depending on their interests, Fellows could dig into one issue or ensure that no day would be the same. Both our organizations are flexible with a great number of needs, so our Fellow would have the opportunity to develop their professional capacities in several ways:
Research, design and implement environmentally friendly ways to increase emergency water resources,
Research best practices for planning and executing prescribed burn events incorporating Traditional Ecological Knowledge and fire science,
Help develop an in-house understanding of and capacity to perform CEQA analysis, an important part of staying ahead of vitally needed fuel reduction work,
Develop geospatial and organizational methods for documenting critical wildfire risk mitigation projects to track countywide needs,
Systematize gathering homeowner and neighborhood level priorities for assistance,
Aid in creating better communication methods and strategies for MCFSC/FSS and our affiliated Neighborhood Fire Safe Council networks,
Assist in setting up community forums and presentations on topical wildfire issues,
Assist with the development of emerging wildfire safety groups,
Assist with the development of local risk analysis,
Provide support and expertise to local community groups.
These tasks all serve the Grizzly mission by reducing the potential for carbon emissions from massive wildfires and promoting community resilience. Our Fellow would have the opportunity to make a significant impact on these critical aspects of environmental preservation.
Capacity Building Projects
Since both fire safe councils work on similar projects there is a lot of potential for crossover, as well as the opportunity to share information within the California Fire Safe Council networks. Both MCFSC and FSS are looking to expand their outreach and communications capacity as well as provide support and expertise to local community groups enhancing resilience.
Research Best Practices for Sustainability:
This project would involve researching best practices for water storage, prescribed fire and CEQA compliance. The Fellow could study different methods and options for augmented emergency water storage in the Wildland Urban Interface and determine regulatory requirements. Developing fire suppression water storage is essential in drought stressed rural communities. The Fellow could also study the role of prescribed fire, cultural burning and regulatory requirements. Bringing ‘good fire’ based in Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) back on to the landscape will drastically reduce the intensity of future wildfires. Our organizations are looking to integrate more TEK into our policies and work plans, our Fellow could contribute to this endeavor. Considering the important role CEQA plays in fuel management projects, the Fellow could assist with researching and developing a CEQA process for fire safe councils to follow. In order to manage fuel reduction in environmentally sensitive areas, build trust in communities and ensure future maintenance, a sound CEQA process is a must. With guidance from MCFSC and FSS, the fellow would network with communities, tribes, fire districts and regulatory bodies to augment their research and determine practicality. The desired outcome would be guidelines and recommendations for implementation of water storage, prescribed fire and/or CEQA compliance.
Organizing Communities for Preparedness:
Both MCFSC and FSS are umbrella organizations for many Neighborhood Fire Safe Councils (NFSCs) and wildfire safety groups. Through outreach and coordination the number of groups is expanding and their effectiveness increasing. To continue to enhance our role as a useful resource, the Fellow could assist with developing emerging wildfire safety groups, disseminating our existing media on home hardening and defensible space, organizing workshops and public forums as well as tracking projects through geospatial methods. Desired outcomes would be community meetings, expanded neighborhood work days, event calendars and/or project maps. As countywide organizations, we take our cues from NFSCs, we believe they know their community needs best. Helping us enhance our communication and coordination with NFSCs will allow us to better serve them and assist in strengthening community resilience.
Organizational & Community Highlights
The MCFSC is a small 501 (c)(3) nonprofit providing service to a large, diverse and resource-poor county. The MCFSC consists of two full-time and two half-time staff and an array of project managers who work part time. We tackle a wide range of projects from managing fuels reduction grants, implementing community fuels-reduction projects, helping coordinate affiliated Neighborhood Fire Safe Councils, assisting in County policy development, delivering educational materials and more. Our workplace is informal, flexible and relaxed. We accomplish a lot by working with a lot of community partners, which provides a great opportunity for network building.
FSS is also a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to increase awareness of wildfire issues in our county and help local residents and firefighting agencies achieve improved wildfire safety. FSS has been instrumental in educating residents about wildfire prevention and safety, through wildland fire safety presentations and the distribution of the publications “Living with Fire in Sonoma County” and “Ready, Set, Go!”. FSS acts as a liaison between local communities and agencies, actively seeks grant funding and manages wildfire related projects. In recent years, FSS successfully leveraged social media and evolved to create a monthly program with guest speakers on relevant current topics. FSS provides several annual safety presentations to various communities throughout the county focusing on topics such as defensible space, home hardening, resilient landscaping, local group formation, local wildfire risk analysis, personal safety, and other relevant topics. FSS also routinely engages with the public by participating in public events throughout the year, including the Sonoma County Home and Garden Show, safety fairs, farmer’s markets and old-time barbecues.
Sonoma and Mendocino County are incredible places to work and network. They are their own little worlds. Both counties are beautiful places with a wide range of what nature has to offer including wine county, chaparral and arid inland valleys, expansive oak woodlands, redwood and Douglas-fir forests, an entire coastal community with over 100 miles of amazing coastline. The population is as quirky as the landscape is diverse with a backbone of working class and agricultural workers mixing with a colorful blend of ranchers, historical back-to-the-land settlers, libertarians and others who follow their own drum beat. A significant portion of AmeriCorps Members who come to our communities end up sticking around a while.