Meet the MO's Defensible Space Team

MO's Defensible Space is a small, locally operated business in the Reno-Tahoe area. Meet the two people behind the operation:

Olivia Anderson | CEO & NFPA Certified Wildfire Mitigation Specialist

Hi! My name is Olivia. I found my passion for data-driven wildfire prevention and defensible space through a mix of my recreational interests and academic pursuits. As an avid outdoor recreationalist, stewardship to the land we live, work, and play on comes inherently.

I was born in Reno, NV and moved to Fort Collins, CO at a young age. Colorado and Nevada face many of the same challenges when it comes to wildfire. Growing up I watched wildfires devastate neighboring communities and threaten my own. It was always a concern in the back of my mind.

I attended Western Colorado University in Gunnison, CO. Torn between interests in biology, history, and political science, I ended up receiving my degree in history with a focus on land use in the West and a minor in biology and political science.

After graduation, I returned to my place of birth, Reno, NV. I returned at the peak of the Dixie and Caldor fires and felt frustrated by what little I could provide in this devastating time. I began learning about wildfire history in the West in my own free time, which eventually led me to employment with Truckee Fire Protection District. There, I was a Defensible Space Specialist and in my tenure, performed over 1,000 defensible space inspections.

I decided to start my own defensible space company with my partner, Michael, because on the public sector side of things, I witnessed a broad disconnect between the fire department, residents, and contractors. As a defensible space inspector, I encountered countless defensible space contractors that did not understand defensible space. This dynamic led to extra work for everyone, with the resident in the middle of it all. At a certain point, I realized it would be more effective if I just went out there and did the work myself.

MO's Mission:

  • Provide science-based, effective defensible space services.

  • Educate homeowners on the complexities of living in the wildland-urban interface.

  • Help cultivate a new standard for defensible space contract work in the region, so that homeowners are no longer burdened by ineffective work.

  • Ensure that defensible space work is accessible for everyone, regardless of income.

  • Remain dynamic and expand our services to always meet the community needs.

  • Never stop learning about the field of work that we are dedicating our lives to.

Defensible space lies at the intersection of many vital aspects of our communities. It is a mix of public policy, forest health, community safety, scientific research, and wildfire prevention education. We are passionate nerds about all of these items separately. Operating our own defensible space company allows us to dig into each of these topics and further our education every day. We love to share what we know, to help others understand fire behavior in the Wildland-Urban Interface.

Michael Stohlgren | Environmental Specialist

Hi! My name is Michael. I love science, the outdoors, and the constant state of learning that this field has introduced me to.

I grew up in Fort Collins, CO. As the son of a renowned plant ecologist, I always found myself in the outdoors, learning about plant and forest health. I spent my summers visiting my family in Tahoe City, CA where I would always try to earn a little extra money by raking up pine needles for my uncles and their neighbors.

In the Spring of 2020, I graduated with my Master's Degree from the School of Environmental Studies at Western Colorado University. The multidisciplinary program helped introduce me to the science of defensible space while attending a wildfire conference in the wake of the devastating West Fork Fire Complex in SW Colorado.

When I moved to the Reno/Tahoe area in 2021 to be closer to family, I was excited to hear the buzz around "defensible space." Unfortunately, the work that was taking place, at my family's houses and otherwise, didn't resemble the data-driven defensible space that I was familiar with. I knew there was a disconnect, and I wanted to help bridge that divide.

I hope to bring to the table a blend of academia into our everyday landscaping decisions. The science is sound, and as practitioners, we need to do our part ensure we are making the best land management discissions possible.