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The Nature Conservancy and Paradise Announce Groundbreaking Partnership to Build Resilience Following Camp Fire

The Nature Conservancy and the Paradise Recreation and Park District announced an innovative partnership today to study the feasibility of incorporating natural buffers to reduce wildfire risk in Paradise and surrounding areas. The efforts are intended to help reduce risks as people rebuild homes and businesses.

Scientists will partner with community leaders to create a model for using parks and open space around Paradise, Magalia, and other nearby communities to reduce the risk and impact of wildfires. The partnership could yield a template to other municipalities in fire-prone areas. Where appropriate, acquisitions from willing sellers could be aggregated into parks that provide natural, protective buffers around the more densely populated areas. These parks could, in turn, provide recreational and economic benefits.

“California is a flammable state. We have to do more to plan our communities so that they are safer from fire, both as they are growing and when they are redeveloping after a disaster. The population of California is growing, and housing is a necessity, but putting people and homes in places that burn repeatedly has significant risks,” said Ryan Luster, Senior Project Director for The Nature Conservancy California Chapter. “Community members and leaders in Paradise are taking a proactive step to learn from the Camp Fire and apply those lessons to their community, and potentially communities across California.”

The first of its kind partnership with Paradise Recreation and Park District is multi-phased and uses scientific analyses and models to inform policies, identifying where nature can be most effective at reducing risk, to help existing communities and homeowners, and also plan future development to minimize fire risks. These policies will help people protect themselves, harden their homes and take direct measures to reduce risk. Careful analysis may indicate high-risk locations that are difficult to defend, where alternative land uses may be more appropriate than residential development.

Dan Efseaff, District Manager for the Paradise Recreation and Park District noted, “Our community emerges from the Camp Fire, ready to lead using science to inform us as we deviseplans for the community’s future. Our hope is that our integrated, science-based approach to managing wildfire will serve as a model and that model may help other communities around the world that must adapt and live with fire.”

The Camp Fire in November 2018, destroyed 19,000 structures, of which approximately 14,000 were homes. Since the fire,138 houses have been rebuilt and 954 building permit applications have been filed, and 782 building permits have been issued.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.