ICYMI: Wildfire Webinar | Cal Parks
Published: September 30, 2022

Have you heard about our Insider Speaker Series? California State Parks Foundation launched this new series to educate members and donors on topics relevant to the state parks space. Essentially, they’re opportunities for you to learn more about the work we’re doing in California state parks!  

Become a member of California State Parks Foundation today and receive invitations to the Insider Speaker Series! 

We hosted the first one – Moving From Reactive to Prepared – in September, which focused on wildfires. As you know, California state parks have now come to expect wildfires every summer. It’s the new normal none of us wanted to confront: a warmer, drier climate, plus fuel buildup in forests and open spaces due to decades of fire suppression. That means bigger, deadlier, and more frequent fires. We hosted the discussion to share obstacles and solutions to this mounting issue. Most importantly, we focused on wildfire preparedness and how essential it is to do work on the front end to prevent fires from spreading to uncontrollable volumes.    

During the webinar, we talked to a panel of experts in the parks space:  


Jessica Morse, Deputy Secretary for Forest and Wildland Resilience at the California Natural Resources Agency   

She is coordinating California’s approach to wildfire resilience including increasing the pace and scale of forest restoration and vegetation treatment.  Jessica was the architect of the Governor’s $1.5 billion wildfire resilience strategy and developed the joint forest stewardship strategy between California and the US Forest Service signed in 2020.  


Assemblymember Steve Bennett  

Assemblymember Bennett launched his bid for the Assembly with a recognition that the window to effectively address climate change is rapidly closing. His first climate change efforts focus on improving the storage capacity of renewable energy, which is an essential step to achieving the goal of 100% renewable energy.  


Steve Auten (Auten Resource Consulting)  

Steve and ARC staff have been working in Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Butano State Park, and Año Nuevo State Park following the CZU Lightning Complex wildfire of 2020. Their role has been to work with California State Park staff, conduct field investigations considering current forest conditions, make vegetation and tree treatment recommendations, develop a forest management plan, and apply for permits to implement ecologically restorative treatments across the three state parks.  

Tim Hyland, Natural Resource Program Manager 

Tim Hyland is the Natural Resource Program Manager for the Santa Cruz District of California State Parks. Born in San Jose he has spent the last 27 years helping to protect the incredible biodiversity of the Santa Cruz Mountains found in our local State Parks. During that time, he has assisted in and currently directs the prescribed fire program for the district. Helping to maintain various ecosystems by reintroducing fire to redwood forest, coastal prairie and rare sand hills chaparral. 


 Hearing and gaining knowledge from a variety of perspectives is critical to understanding the breadth of the crisis and finding long-term solutions. There’s government funding and bills that must be passed at the state level, but there’s also hands-on projects that have to happen in parks most vulnerable to wildfires. The on-the-ground projects are just as important as the big picture work, and it all has to be connected for a stronger, more resilient California.  

 “This is not the fire crisis I grew up with. These aren’t the natural fires that have been present on California’s landscape for millennia. Now, we’re tackling: how can we, in the age of climate change with our forests and lands out of balance, get back into a state of resilience?” Jessica shared, summing it up well.  

If you would like to join us next time, become a California State Parks Foundation member today!  

We hope you’ll join us for the next member and donor webinar!