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A New View of Greenbelts: Wildfire Protection & Preparedness

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Join us for the virtual launch of our original research: The Critical Role of Greenbelts in Wildfire Resilience.

About this event

With worsening drought conditions and wildfires already starting, the Bay Area is at a tipping point. Everyone is anxiously bracing for what is coming—and asking what we can do to be safe and better prepared.

Greenbelt Alliance is driving bold action and creative solutions urgently needed to prepare and protect our communities from another extreme wildfire season. At this event, we will share breakthrough findings for how the Bay Area can accelerate greenbelts—open spaces, working lands, green zones inside communities, recreational greenways—as nature-based solutions to build resilience. This analysis includes detailed recommendations for concerned residents, leaders, and advocates to leverage greenbelts that will reduce wildfire risk.

We invite you to this virtual launch where we’ll share the key findings and recommendations from our original research: The Critical Role of Greenbelts in Wildfire Resilience.

During this event, we will discuss the powerful, yet currently overlooked role of greenbelts in the work ahead with a diverse panel of experts leading the charge in wildfire planning in their respective fields:

  • Melanie Parker, Deputy Director of Sonoma County Regional Parks;
  • Misti Arias, General Manager of the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District;
  • Dr. Michael Medler, Professor, Chair, Environmental Studies at Western Washington University;
  • Timothy Ingalsbee, Ph.D. Executive Director of Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics and Ecology (FUSEE)
  • Moderated by Sarah Cardona, Deputy Director of Greenbelt Alliance.

The clock is ticking on wildfire season. We have done the research and have a new view on what to do, and why greenbelts and land management can urgently help. Attend this virtual event to learn more about how we can work together to keep our communities safe.

Your support makes our work possible! Please consider a donation when ordering a ticket or give online at greenbelt.org/donate to help us continue this critical work.

The Panel

Melanie Parker, Deputy Director of Sonoma County Regional Parks

As Deputy Director at Sonoma County Regional Parks, Melanie acts as a key liaison with tribal governments, non-profit organizations, local parks departments, the parks foundation, and private businesses. She provided critical support to the success of a local measure supporting park funding for 10 years by giving nearly 50 talks throughout Sonoma County highlighting the value of its park system and the challenges to park sustainability. Melanie has forged a culture of transparency and collaboration and has succeeded in having the management team set clear three-year strategic priorities. She loves the challenge of organizational development and is blessed to have recruited and retained a top-notch team.

Misti Arias, General Manager of the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District

Misti Arias is the General Manager of Sonoma County Ag + Open Space, a voter-created, sales-tax-funded land conservation agency that has protected over 122,000 acres of Sonoma County’s natural and working lands. After graduating from Sonoma State University with a degree in environmental studies and urban planning, Misti joined Ag + Open Space in 1996 as a planning technician. Since then, Misti has held several positions in the agency, including her most recent roles as Acquisition Manager and Interim Assistant General Manager. In those senior roles, Misti helped lead the development of conservation easements on over 50,000 acres of land, including the Jenner Headlands Preserve, Buckeye Forest, and Cooley Ranch. As General Manager, Misti is focused on leading Ag + Open Space into a new era of bold and strategic land conservation action.

Dr. Michael Medler, Professor, and Chair, Department of Environmental Studies, Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University

Dr. Medler teaches GIS and statistical courses as well as graduate level natural resource courses. He received a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Arizona and an M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon. Dr. Medler's current research centers on developing techniques for mapping and analyzing complex biophysical processes such as forest fires, avalanche hazards, and other disturbances. He is also very interested in the relationship between fire and human evolution.

Timothy Ingalsbee, Ph.D. Executive Director of Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics and Ecology (FUSEE)

Timothy started his fire career as a wildland firefighter for both the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service and is now a certified senior wildland fire ecologist. He earned his Ph.D. in environmental sociology from the University of Oregon where he is also an adjunct Instructor and Faculty Research Associate. Timothy is a frequent writer and speaker on forest and fire management issues.

Sarah Cardona, Deputy Director, Greenbelt Alliance

As the Deputy Director at Greenbelt Alliance, Sarah leads climate policy and advocacy initiatives, drawing from her prior experiences planning and implementing mitigation and adaptation solutions at international, regional, and local levels. Previously, Sarah managed regional environmental planning efforts in stormwater management, climate resilience, and natural asset management for the Metropolitan Planning Council based in Chicago. Sarah holds a B.A. in Political Science and Spanish from Colgate University and a M.P.P. concentrating on environmental policy from The University of Maryland School of Public Policy.

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