“Understanding Wildfire Impacts in California - Far More Than Acres Burned”

Event Date

1115 11th Street, Sacramento and by Zoom webinar

Talk by Mr. Ken Alex, J.D. from UC Berkeley and Ms. Leana Weissberg from American Forests.

How are wildfires impacting California, and how are those impacts evolving? This question is central to our social response to wildfire — including how we live with it, restore it to the landscape, and mitigate its worst effects. However, we do not yet have clear answers to this question. A wild variety of wildfire impacts are either not tracked or unreported, limiting our ability to make informed decisions in wildfire mitigation and recovery efforts. Furthermore, this truncated access to essential information and data has the potential to lead us to unsustainable solutions.

In an era of increasingly catastrophic wildland fires that raze human communities, a broader-based evaluation of these impacts is essential. A broader set of metrics also benefits evaluation and decision-making related to the critical need to restore functional fire to landscapes and build a greater understanding of the positive aspects of wildfire. This talk will discuss the California’s Year in Fire project, which advances a framework for a more complete picture of evolving impacts and consequences,  and provides more robust data to inform meaningful solutions, with broad implications for policy and implementation.

Mr. Ken Alex, J.D. is the director of Project Climate at the UC Berkeley Center for Law, Energy, & the Environment (CLEE,) which focuses on moving quickly to create and scale policies related to the most promising climate solutions . From 2011 to 2018, Mr. Alex was a Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Jerry Brown, as well as the Director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, and the Chair of the Strategic Growth Council. Before joining the Governor’s Office, he was the Senior Assistant Attorney General, heading the environment section of the California Attorney General’s Office, as well as the Co-Head of the Office’s global warming unit. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School.

Ms. Leana Weissberg is the California State Director for American Forests, where she manages the organization’s ongoing landscape  implementation and statewide coordination  efforts in California. Ms. Weissberg has been immersed in forestry and fire in  northern California for over six years, working as a CLEE research fellow at UC Berkeley  and as a forester with the Bureau of Land Management and the Sierra Institute for Community & Environment. She holds a Masters of Environmental Science from the Yale School of Forestry.

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