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Catastrophic Wildfire in California's Wildland Urban-Interface: A Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team Case Study Public Deposited

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  • Wildfires across the Western United States, specifically in California have increased in size and intensity in recent decades. These fires are encroaching on California’s Wildland Urban-Interface (WUI), often with devastating results. Most recently, these destructive results were displayed in the 2018 fire season in the Camp and Carr Fires and the communities of Redding and Paradise, California. Catastrophic wildfire fits the description of wicked problems, with collaborative governance, specifically collaboration, potentially holding unique solutions. This research targets a wildfire collaborative in the Lake Tahoe Basin in Northern California known as the Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team, which was created after the Angora Fire in 2007. A qualitative methodology was applied and semi-structured interviews revealed a number of specific successes to combatting catastrophic wildfire in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Findings suggest that successful collaboration can exist within a multitude of systems, even ones that scholars may have previously found diametrically opposed. Creating a collaborative forum increases the chances of finding solutions that reach across landscape boundaries that are inherent in wicked problems. Using collaboration increases public education and support for primary goals. Finally, a diversity in positions and styles of leadership enhance and cultivate continued success in the collaborative setting. The Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team have utilized these collaborative elements to inspect 42,059 parcels and treat 66,885 acres in the Tahoe Basin and make the WUI space more resistant and resilient to catastrophic wildfire in the future.
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