The Ojai Community Defense Zone Project: A Southern California Climate Change Adaptation Case Study

Created: 12/06/2017 - Updated: 1/07/2021


Climate change may affect the ability to achieve on-the-ground project goals and objectives. The following case study demonstrates how climate change vulnerability and adaptation information can be integrated into existing and future fire and fuels management projects to increase overall project resilience. For this example, resource managers and regional stakeholders worked together to evaluate: 1) how climate and non-climate vulnerabilities could impact the ability to achieve project goals, 2) what current project actions help to address or minimize vulnerabilities, and 3) what new actions could be added to the project to address remaining vulnerabilities. While this specific project has already been completed, establishing and/or maintaining fuelbreaks is a common activity in southern California, and this type of process could easily be replicated in future projects.

Ojai Community Defense Zone Project Goals & Actions

The Ojai Ranger District within the Los Padres National Forest restored and expanded an existing fuelbreak system in chaparral habitat to increase defensible space within the forest and the wildland-urban interface (WUI) of Ojai, Meiners Oaks, and Upper Ojai Valley. The goals of this project were to:

  1. Reduce the threat of wildfire to communities in the WUI;

  2. Create safer conditions for the public and firefighters;

  3. Protect watershed habitat value and water quality;

  4. Reduce potential impacts of high-intensity wildfire; and

  5. Increase the efficiency and cost effectiveness of fire suppression activities.

The Forest removed potential fuels that could increase the size, intensity, and rate of wildfire spread, creating fuelbreaks in strategically located areas.

Primary project actions included:

  • Managing ground cover to result in a mixture of bare ground, grasses, and forbs

  • Using irregular widths, shapes, and patterns in the fuelbreak design

  • Expanding width of fuelbreak

  • Using mechanical treatments for fuel removal around dwellings and other occupied buildings 



Kershner, J.M., L.E. Hilberg, and W.A. Reynier. 2017. The Ojai Community Defense Zone Project: A Southern California Climate Change Adaptation Case Study. Retrieved from CAKE:…

Project Contact(s)

Position: Senior Scientist

EcoAdapt is at the center of climate change adaptation innovation. We provide support, training, and assistance to make conservation and management less vulnerable and more Climate Savvy. Over the past 200 years, great strides have been made in the world of conservation and now all of that is at risk because of climate change. EcoAdapt is working to ensure the success of these past efforts by delivering a framework for climate adaptation.


Scale of Project
Regional / Subnational
Sector Addressed
Land Use Planning
Water Resources
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Natural Resource Management / Conservation
Habitat/Biome Type

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