A Recipe for Disaster

Addressing California’s wildfire environment through fire ecology and design

Claire Dosen

César Torres-Bustamante

March 2021

My project aims to tackle some of the issues that plague cities within the urban wildland interface. In California, much of our wildland is fire dependent and burns with regularity. However, years of misguided fire policy has resulted in fire exclusion on our public land which increases the amount of fuel able to burn. Coupled with climate change which extends the period that fire can be sustained on the landscape, we are beginning to see a rise in the “mega fire”. These fires are larger, more intense, and extremely hard to control. They devastate ecosystems but also wreak havoc on human establishments. As fire activity increases throughout the state, cities within the urban wildland interface must take actions to mitigate fire risk to create safer and habitable communities. This project explores ways to design new infrastructure to protect nearby homes and re-purpose existing infrastructure to aid with wildfire control to keep WUI communities safe. For more information, go to https://issuu.com/cdosen/docs/dissemination_report. Site design will be presented during the senior show presentation on Friday March 12th.

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What’s the problem with Wildfire?

Wildfire, an inherently “destructive” process, is something humans have been negotiating with since settling on the landscape. In recent years California has seen the rise of the megafire - uncontrollable and devastating fires largely fueled by favorable weather. When we expand the wildland urban interface (WUI), fires becoming increasingly risky and costly as we are putting more people at risk. Risk is intensified by bad land management practices (fire exclusion) and climate change – the fire environment can support more fire for longer periods of time in California. We must mitigate the risks to keep people safe.

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Site Introduction

The project is set in Redding, California. Redding is a WUI community and has been heavily impacted by the increases in fire intensity throughout the state. The proposed site will be a recreation element for residents but also act as a much-needed fire protection zone for the wildfire vulnerable west side of Redding.

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Wildfire Mitigation Strategies

With larger, more devastating fires communities in the wildland urban interface need to take actions to mitigate risk and build resiliency to protect community members and structures. Building resiliency means employing many different strategies to make your community safer. I developed 5 strategies to use on site.

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ABOUT ME

Hello! My name is Claire - I am finishing up my Bachelor of Landscape Architecture at Cal Poly. Over the past year I have been working on my senior project. The project focuses on wildfire, ecology and recreation – all topics very close to my heart. As a concerned California resident and outdoor enthusiast, I took my senior project as a chance to educate myself on wildfire to learn about the issues at hand in the State. Earlier this year I took classes in wildland fire fighting, fire ecology, and fire and society to help me to create the project presented here!