Ag Innovations

Firesmart Lake Sonoma Watershed Project

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Like you, our perspective on fire was forever changed in October 2017.  

In partnership, Ag Innovations and Sonoma County Water Agency (Sonoma Water) organized a two-part workshop series called "FireSmart Lake Sonoma" about living with fire in the Lake Sonoma Watershed.  If a catastrophic fire were to occur in the Lake Sonoma Watershed, it could lead to contamination of the region’s drinking water supply, affecting over 600,000 residents. We are committed to working together on solutions to better protect your home and our primary regional water source.  Lake Sonoma watershed has three distinct communities, connected by major roadways and divided by the lake. With that in mind, we hosted a two-part workshop on reducing fire risk and increasing fire resiliency in the Lake Sonoma Watershed


  1. Ben Nichols, from CALFIRE, discusses how CalFire approaches defending homes and buildings in event of a wildfire - and how residents can be more prepared
  2. Video on Home Design and Retrofitting Techniques for Wildfire Defense 
  3. CalFire Prepare for Wildfire Website
  4. Sonoma County Forest Conservation Working Group - Resource for landowner workshops on managing forests and reducing woodland fire risk 
  5. Creating Wildfire Adapted Homes and Landscapes - Detailed informational guide from FireSAFE Sonoma
  6. FireSmart Community Workshop Resource Handout - Terminology and Resources for Creating Fire Adapted Communities from Sonoma Water and Ag Innovations



This project is a Resilient Community Pilot Project funded by PG&E Resilient Communities Better Together 2017 grant and the Sonoma County Water Agency

Prior to the Sonoma Complex Fires of October 2017, Ag Innovations and the Sonoma County Water Agency came together to address fire and forestry management in the Lake Sonoma watershed. The steep, heavily forested hills surrounding the lake have experienced more than 10 fires since 1940, and remain vulnerable to catastrophic wildfire. A major fire within the 83,000-acre watershed could result in catastrophic effects on homes, businesses, roads, water quality, and critical down-stream fisheries habitat. Since Lake Sonoma is the primary water supply for more than 600,000 people and businesses in the region, reducing fire risk in the watershed is critical to the public safety of our region.

Landowners in the watershed include a mix of vineyards, ranches, private homes, and public lands. Each group holds unique knowledge about adapting to fire and managing lands for fire preparedness. Each group likely experiences different barriers to implementing fire-smart strategies. The FireSmart initiative will bring together the people who live and work in the Lake Sonoma watershed to share insight and develop collaborative solutions for a fire-resilient watershed. In 2018, we conducted four workshops in the Lake Sonoma Watershed, and now in 2019 are ‘jumpstarting’ other fire resiliency efforts in the critical watershed of Hopland in Mendocino County, and in Napa County.

We are now in Phase 2 of the grant, which is replicating this effort in Napa and Mendocino. In Napa, we are working with community advocates, firesafe councils and RCDs in Mendocino and Napa to help bolster their efforts around planning and coordination. In Hopland, (Mendocino County) a critical watershed of the Russian River (which again provides source drinking water) they do not currently have a Firesafe council. On June 2, we will bring together the community for information, understanding, and collective awareness. In Napa, where they have a range of Firesafe councils, the goal will be to connect agencies around a community wildfire protection plan and other collective actions on May 4. Finally, in May or June we will be hosting a final climate-friendly pile burn workshop to reinforce learning, relationships and action in the Lake Sonoma Watershed. Please email if you are interested in joining any of these workshops!

“Ag Innovations has done a great job of mediating between agricultural and environmental interests to help them find common ground on controversial issues.”
Ed Thompson, American Farmland Trust

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