Fire Management

The 2006 Latigo Fire burns through chaparral in the Santa Monica Mountains.
The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area was established to preserve our unique Mediterranean ecosystem and to maintain the area's significant natural, cultural, and scenic resources (GMP 2002). This important ecosystem is surrounded by greater Los Angeles, one of world's largest urban areas. High intensity wildfires are a characteristic feature of this landscape. They have carried a heavy social cost from the large number homes lost and the massive fire-fighting efforts required to protect lives and property in the wildland urban interface.
Fire management actions are guided by the park's Fire Management Plan and the policies of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy. In the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) the Wildfire Management Program protects both its Mediterranean ecosystem and its local communities by working to have fewer wildfires and burned homes and less fire-related ecosystem disturbance. To do this, the park works together with Ventura County Fire Department, Los Angeles County Fire Department and Los Angeles City Fire Department through local agreements, the CA Fire Protection Agreement, and the CA Fire Assistance Agreement to suppress fires in the Recreation Area under the Incident Command System.
Lupine blooms post fire in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Despite the apparent damage seen after a wildfire, natural areas will normally begin to recover soon after. Fire caused by lightning is rare on the southern California coast. Climate, vegetation, paleoecological evidence and recorded fire history indicate that the natural fire regime is one of infrequent, large, stand replacing fires.

Today, however, fires in the Santa Monica Mountains (SMM) are caused almost exclusively by human activities. The frequency of fires has increased along with population growth in southern California and the interval between fires has shortened. The SMM shrubland ecosystems are sensitive to short fire return intervals and increasing fire frequency. Native shrub species can be killed when burned or disturbed without enough time to recover between fires or disturbances influencing fire ecology. When this occurs, native shrublands may be 'type converted' to degraded shrublands, dominated by non-native annual grasses and exotic weeds.
White fire truck parked in concrete driveway.
Fire Operations

The protection areas within the SMMNRA boundary consists of federal, state, county, city and private property.

Wildfire blazing on green hills with houses sitting below fire.
Fuels Management

Park fuels management in the Santa Monica Mountains is focused and strategic.

Green field with burned tree trunks that are bare.
Fire Ecology

While chaparral is a fire adapted vegetation type, it is not useful to think of it as a fire-dependent ecosystem.

A helicopter spraying the ground with onlookers.
Fire Cooperators

In order to protect both the natural environment and our communities, all agencies must work together.

Fire blazing in green hills with helicopter flying over spraying the fire.
Fire Regime & History

Fire regimes describe the pattern, frequency and intensity of wildfires and are determined by natural ecosystem properties.

Burned housing structure with a fireplace in the center.
2018 Woolsey Fire

The Woolsey Fire burned almost 100,000 acres of land.

Billowing white smoke rising from green mountains.
2013 Springs Fire

The Springs Fire burned 24,238 acres in a day and a half.

Last updated: June 7, 2022

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26876 Mulholland Highway
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805 370-2301

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