Conservancy gets $1.5 million grant to ‘strengthen fire resiliency’

Structure burns in Woolsey Fire in Malibu. photo for The Signal by Jeff Zimmerman.

State officials in an effort to better prepare against the type of wildfire that destroyed much of Malibu last year, gave $1.5 million to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to  “prevent future catastrophes.”

Conservancy officials announced Wednesday the California Natural Resources Agency and Department of Conservation had granted them $1.5 million to “prioritize, develop, and implement projects to strengthen fire resiliency, increase carbon sequestration, and facilitate greenhouse gas reductions in Southern California,” Conservancy spokesman Dash Stolarz wrote in a news release.

The grant from the State Regional Forest and Fire Capacity Program is part of $20 million in block grants for local and regional fire resiliency projects statewide funded by Cap and Trade revenue through California Climate investments.  

Six regional block grants have been awarded throughout the state to ensure regional implementation.

“The recent Woolsey Fire was the most destructive fire ever seen in history in the Santa Monica Mountains,” Joseph T. Edmiston, executive director of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy was quoted as saying.

“These funds from the California Natural Resources Agency will go a long way,” he said. “To  develop strategies with local partners to promote recovery in the burn areas, protect habitat, and prevent future catastrophes.”

The Woolsey Fire, which began Nov. 8, 2018, killed three people, burned 96,949 acres of land, destroyed 1,643 structures, and prompted the evacuation of more than 295,000 people.

The Conservancy has a proven track record, Stolarz wrote, of building strong partnerships with all levels of government, landowners, nonprofit, and community organizations and the ability to articulate and realize shared objectives,  Stolarz wrote.

It is a long-time and active member of the Santa Monica Mountains Fire Safe Alliance, an umbrella group of government agencies and other affected groups convened by Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl to address environmental and community safety problems related to wildfire in the Santa Monica Mountains.

The Conservancy has been recognized internationally for its strategic planning processes which employ significant public input.

The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy was set up in 1980 as a state agency.  Since that time, it has helped preserve more than 75,000 acres of parkland in both wilderness and urban settings.

The Conservancy’s mission is to strategically buy back, preserve, protect, restore and enhance treasured pieces of Southern California to form and interlinking system of urban, rural, and river parks, open space, trails and wildlife habitat that are easily accessible to the public.

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