UCCE’s Post-Fire Resilience Workshops: Nurturing community growth post-wildfire

Sep 6, 2023

UCCE’s Post-Fire Resilience Workshops: Nurturing community growth post-wildfire

Sep 6, 2023

In Spring of 2022, UC ANR launched its first Post-Fire Resilience Workshop. Since 2022, the workshop has traveled to Alpine, El Dorado, Plumas, Mariposa, Fresno, Madera, and Napa counties, and has reached 97 participants. The program continues to gain positive feedback and broadening statewide interest.

The UC ANR Post-Fire Resilience program has provided educational assistance to non-industrial private forest landowners throughout California who have been affected by wildfire. The program's workshop offering is headed by Post-Fire Academic Coordinator Katie Reidy, who aims to provide landowners with an opportunity to learn ways to proceed with their forested land, post-fire. Reidy explains that for landowners, the act of returning to post-wildfire property is “An emotional experience. The drastic change can be overwhelming.”

The Post-Fire team understands that for landowners in this situation, taking the first steps toward post-fire recovery can be the hardest. Reidy shares that the workshop is therefore “Designed to provide stepping stones and educational tools for landowners. It helps them think about how to manage their land for the future; how to encourage the land to grow back.” Beginning September 14th, the team is inviting private forest landowners, agency folks, and interested community members in Siskiyou, Shasta, and Trinity counties to their next workshop cohort.

Participants of the workshop will engage in weekly workshop sessions over Zoom on Thursday nights from 6-7:30pm from September 14th- October 26th, with in-person field trip days on November 3rd, 4th, and 5th (one day per county).  Weekly sessions will consist of information on post-fire issues such as removing hazard trees, reforestation, erosion control, managing competing vegetation and local assistance programs. A variety of speakers and resource professionals supplement each session by sharing their expertise on topics.

At the end of the online Zoom sessions, participants are invited to an in-person field day. Here, they examine the impacts of fire and observe post-fire management practices on both private and public lands.  The in-person field day also provides an opportunity for unstructured conversations among participants and professionals, where landowners are encouraged to ask questions about specific forest management strategies. Field trips consist of multiple stops, a process that aids in visualizing strategies for managing different post-fire problems.

For instance, one stop may highlight high-severity fire impacts with reforestation needs/efforts, while another stop may demonstrate ways to manage competing vegetation and resprouting trees. One past participant remarked that the in-person field trips were the most impactful portion of the series. The trips were a place where they could “Meet other people in the community facing the same situation we were.”

It's true that the Post-Fire workshop program guides workshop participants to find inspiration in regional success stories. Yet participants leave the program with so much more: a newfound or increased knowledge base and network that will help their projects succeed. The camaraderie that occurs in the workshop is powerful, shares Daylin Wade, Post-Fire Staff Research Associate.

Wade expresses that the program “Creates an opportunity for the community to learn from each other in addition to experts. Learning happens through discussions amongst participants that augments learning from the speakers”. Personal accounts of people's experience with fire recovery are valuable for other participants to hear, she notes. Wade shares that at a previous workshop: “One landowner who had experienced fire 3 years ago provided learning and insights to a landowner who experienced fire only six months ago.”

The tragedy of wildfire events is taken into direct consideration with the workshop, which is not simply a place to learn, but a place to build community resilience. Future workshop participants can expect to experience these connections between inspiration and action and leave the workshop with a new network of support. 

The next Post-Fire Resilience workshop series begins September 14th! Interested forest landowners, community members, or tribal members in Siskiyou, Trinity, and Shasta counties should register here: http://ucanr.edu/post-fireregistration. There is a registration fee of $25. Any questions should be directed to Katie Reidy, Post-Fire Forest Resilience Program Coordinator at: kkreidy@ucanr.edu.







By Grace Dean
Author - Forest Stewardship Communications Specialist