Forest Fire

CONVERGE COVID-19 Working Group on

Wildfire preparedness and evacuation planning in a pandemic:

Cases from California and Colorado

Working Group Background

In April 2020, Wonder Labs brought together a Working Group to undertake National Science Foundation-funded convergence research on Wildfire Preparedness and Evacuation Planning in a Pandemic. The Working Group is comprised of social science and public health researchers, representatives from public agencies and non-profit organizations.

The research aim was to study the social, ecological, and public health dimensions of wildfires during the COVID-19 pandemic. The objective was to examine how communities in two locations at very high-risk from wildfire impacts – Nevada County in California and Larimer County in Colorado – perceived and practiced safety as they prepared for wildfires and recovered from wildfires during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Working Group conducted in-depth virtual interviews with institutional representatives from fire management, forest management, emergency management, key utilities such as water and electricity, and with community representatives from volunteer networks, including the Firewise communities and prescribed burn associations, and a range of regional and community-based organizations. The first round of virtual interviews was conducted between June–August 2020, before the fires, and the second round of virtual interviews was conducted between November 2020–February 2021, after the fires. 

The Working Group’s research outcomes include: an in-depth report, invited blogs and Op-Eds, and a journal article. Please see the publications page for further details. It is hoped these findings and recommendations will lead to the development of inclusive, responsive, and people-centered policies for wildfire resilience, in the context of cascading public health, social, and environmental crises. Please reach out to the Working Group Lead, Dr. Shefali Juneja Lakhina, shefali@lakhina.com with your questions and suggestions.

Working Group Members

CONVERGE COVID-19 Working Group on

Wildfire preparedness and evacuation planning in a pandemic:

Cases from California and Colorado

CONVERGE COVID-19 Working Group on

Wildfire Preparedness and Evacuation Planning in a Pandemic:

Cases from California and Colorado

Working Group Background

In April 2020, Wonder Labs brought together a Working Group to undertake National Science Foundation-funded convergence research on Wildfire Preparedness and Evacuation Planning in a Pandemic. The Working Group is comprised of social science and public health researchers, representatives from public agencies and non-profit organizations.

The research aim was to study the social, ecological, and public health dimensions of wildfires during the COVID-19 pandemic. The objective was to examine how communities in two locations at very high-risk from wildfire impacts – Nevada County in California and Larimer County in Colorado – perceived and practiced safety as they prepared for wildfires and recovered from wildfires during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Working Group conducted in-depth virtual interviews with institutional representatives from fire management, forest management, emergency management, key utilities such as water and electricity, and with community representatives from volunteer networks, including the Firewise communities and prescribed burn associations, and a range of regional and community-based organizations. The first round of virtual interviews was conducted between June–August 2020, before the fires, and the second round of virtual interviews was conducted between November 2020–February 2021, after the fires. 

The Working Group’s research outcomes include: an in-depth report, invited blogs and Op-Eds, and a journal article. Please see the publications page for further details. It is hoped these findings and recommendations will lead to the development of inclusive, responsive, and people-centered policies for wildfire resilience, in the context of cascading public health, social, and environmental crises. Please reach out to the Working Group Lead, Dr. Shefali Juneja Lakhina, shefali@lakhina.com with your questions and suggestions.

Working Group Members

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Shefali Juneja Lakhina

Wonder Labs

Shefali is the Working Group Lead and co-founder of Wonder Labs, a social enterprise working to co-develop social, ecological, and technological innovations with communities on the frontline of climate impacts...

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Alan H. Kwok

Philanthropy California

Alan is the Director of Disaster Resilience for Northern California Grantmakers, an organization that brings together foundations, nonprofit organizations, government, and business to tackle social issues in...

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Logan Gerber-Chavez

University of Delaware

Logan is a Ph.D. candidate in the Disaster Science and Management program. Her dissertation is entitled, “Conceptualizing Compound Disasters and Environmental Justice: Improving Disaster Planning for..."

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Susie Kocher

UC Cooperative Extension

Susie is currently the Forestry & Natural Resources Advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension. Over the last 25 years, Susie has conducted applied research, outreach, and education about...

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Erica Kuligowki

RMIT University

Erica is a Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow in the School of Engineering at RMIT University (Melbourne) with expertise in response behaviour of people under imminent threat, emergency communications, and...

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Tara Pozzi

Boise State University

Tara is a master’s candidate in Human-Environment Systems at Boise State University. Her thesis is titled “Understanding the Barriers and Facilitators of Lidar Adoption for Hazard Management in the Western U.S.”...

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Boyd Lebeda

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Boyd is a Field Liaison in the Smoke Management Program at the Department of Public Health and Environment in Colorado. He worked for almost 30 years with the Colorado State Forest where he delivered forestry...

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Daphne Stannard

San Francisco State University

Daphne is an Associate Professor of Adult Medical/Surgical and Evidence-Based Practice/Nursing Research at San Francisco State University. She has over 30 years of experience in nursing and works at the nexus...

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