On April 4th, at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, over 300 attendees gathered for the Governor’s Wildfire and Forest Resilience Task Force’s Southern California regional meeting. Co-hosted by the Resource Conservation District (RCD) of San Diego County and the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, this meeting focused on a broad set of initiatives from across Southern California aiming to address issues linked to wildfire and forest land management.  

The day began with a resource fair featuring a wide array of regional forestry and fire-related organizations. Representatives from CAL FIRE and the US Forest Service, tabled alongside local tribes, non-profit groups, and private land managers, showcasing initiatives that aim to address unique challenges facing the region’s local fire ecology. The fair acted as valuable time for these organizations to continue ongoing collaborations and to begin new ones, sharing the goal of reducing wildfire severity in the state. 

Following the fair, most of the task force meeting involved panel discussions that touched on the current state of wildfire resilience in Southern California. Topics of discussion ranged from the processes involved in cultural and prescribed burning to the role of infrastructure in wildfire prevention. Among the panelists, Heather Marlow, Director of Forestry and Fire Prevention at the RCD of Greater San Diego County, presented on the diverse network of collaborations that the RCD and Fire Safe Council have organized to aid local land managers and statewide fire prevention initiatives. Overall, these discussions provided invaluable insight into the impressive work being done to address fire-related issues affecting Southern California. 

Throughout the day, it was continually demonstrated that all organizations attending were working tirelessly to keep up with California’s intensifying fire regime. Most of the initiatives taking place are progressing in positive directions, especially with Southern California’s increased adoption of prescribed burning and other fuel management programs. However, a common theme that arose during the meeting was a collective understanding that there is still a long way to go to properly respond to the severe fires that impact the state annually. Fortunately, through the continued collaboration that the task force encourages, the goal of a more fire-safe and resilient California will continue to be fervently pursued.