The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) is one of the largest and most significant Mediterranean-type ecosystems in the world. It is a biodiversity hotspot with a diverse topography and mosaic of habitat types hosting a wide range of plants and animals, including the highest concentration of threatened or endangered species in the continental United States. Even more exceptional is the presence of an apex predator–mountain lions, known to play a major role in the ecosystem–on the outskirts of the second largest urban area in the country.
This unique ecological biodiversity is under pressure from increased urban development and unnaturally high fire frequencies that threaten the resiliency of the ecosystem and the safety of local communities. The role of our Community Resilience program is to provide science- and culture-based services to help people re-engage with the natural environment they inhabit, promote land stewardship, conserve resources, restore habitat and create sustainable defensible space from wildfire. These services and programs aim to increase the adaptive capacity and resilience in Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) communities.
Our mission is to provide guidance and education materials to the local public and private land stewards to support eco-appropriate use of the land, the health of our local ecosystems and the sustainability of our local communities while enhancing habitat connectivity.
We are here to help & support our communities to live well and connect with their home land.
Native Habitat Connectivity with Wildfire Discontinuity
We live in one of the most fire-prone environments in the world, with more homes and area burned per decade than any other region of the U.S. Following the devastating fires of 2017 and 2018, we have been working on developing the resources needed by our local residents, homeowners, and communities to increase wildfire resilience while supporting and maintaining habitat quality of the WUI. These programs include:
- Sustainable Defensible Space: Comprehensive native defensible space improvement actions to increase fire-resistance and ecological function. The landscaping choices in the defensible space zone provide the greatest opportunity for home ignition resistance AND improved habitat conservation with its associated ecosystem benefits–the two goals are not mutually exclusive. For more information, visit defensiblespace.org
- Home Ignition Zone Evaluation Program (HIZEP): A home evaluation is a review of the vulnerability of your house and landscape to wildfire and ember-ignition. During this assessment, an evaluator will review defensible space and home hardening principles and make specific recommendations based on your property.
- Request a (FREE) home ignition zone (HIZ) evaluation
- Become an HIZ evaluator
- Fire Recovery and Native Landscape Restoration: Design-build services to replace vegetation lost to wildfires with native trees or shrubs for improved defensible space and ecological function.
- Ember Disruption Plantings: As homes are generally not ignited by the fire front but more often by wind-driven embers landing on combustible fuels in or on the house, we are working with partners to analyze the effect of vegetation groupings on near-surface winds and ember transport to reduce structure loss during wind-driven wildfire.
- Post-Fire Recovery: Guiding homeowners recovering from wildfires and promoting native vegetation restoration.
- Permitting Assistance: Working with residents to identify any barriers to defensible space and community wildfire resilience, and with permitting authorities to create incentive-based policy to support residents in hardening their homes, increasing energy and water use efficiency, and to replace dead and pathogen-infested trees that may threaten homes and ecosystems.