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Environment and Energy

State of the West: Wildfires in the West

Wildfires have burned in the American West from time out of mind, well before humans entered the region. But recent years have seen an unprecedented explosion in the size and number of fires. They have scorched millions of acres, claimed thousands of lives, inflicted billions in property losses, spewed tons of carbon into the atmosphere, and polluted the air for millions of westerners.

An investigation of Santa Clara County's vegetation management practices for wildfire prevention

Read Devin Hagan's study on vegetation management practices for wildfire prevention. Santa Clara County experienced the worst fire seasion in modertimes in 2020 with over 5,500 acres burned in the single Crews Fire and nearly 400,00 acres burned in the SCU Lightning Complex that affected five Vay Area Counties: Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin and Stanislaus. 

Key Takeaways 

Engaging with Low-Income Latinx Communities in California: Best Practices in Response to Wildfires and COVID-19

This community-based research project focused on identifying effective strategies for nonprofits and government agencies to better serve low-income Latinx communities in California, especially during crisis situations such as wildfires and COVID-19. The research was conducted under two advisors: Professor Leonard Ortolano in Stanford’s department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; and Alma Bowen, director of the nonprofit Nuestra Comunidad which aims to increase emergency-preparedness within Sonoma County’s Latinx community.

Wildfire Mitigation Data System (WMDS) for the Western Interconnection

This research, which started as a 2020 Shultz Fellowship with the Western Interstate Energy Board (WIEB) and has continued with the Bill Lane Center for the American West, is focused on creating a Western Interconnection-wide Wildfire Mitigation Data System (WMDS). The project proposes that data on ignition events and probable ignition events be collected from electric utilities throughout the Western Interconnection and subsequently aggregated into a regional data system.

Environmental Governance and Climate Resilience 2020: Wildfires

The Bill Lane Center for the American West revived its Workshop on Wildfire Management, originally planned for mid-March, via a virtual format. Speakers explored the challenges of preparing for and responding to wildfires during the coronavirus pandemic for a practitioner audience. During our June 25 panel, we discussed training and safety among first responders battling wildfires during a pandemic. Our June 30 keynote featured Dr. Sarah McCaffrey of the U.S.


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