UC Agriculture & Natural Resources News
ABC TV-7 news reported last night that sudden oak death has made a comeback in Northern California oak woodlands.
"There is a resurgence of sudden oak death from Monterey through Mendocino, more than a million trees killed so far and that number rises daily. Those dead oaks can contribute to the fire danger and change the look of our forests in more ways than one. Experts say we're one major wildfire away from changing the look of some of our forests forever," says the story posted on the program's Web site.
The reporter went to UC Cooperative Extension natural resources advisor Steven Swain for expert comment.
He said the warm, wet springs of 2005 and 2006 has resulted in a new crop of dead tan oaks in the hills of Marin.
"(The fungus) stops the roots from feeding the leaves and the leaves from feeding the roots," Swain told the reporter.
In addition to the wildfire risk, dead trees threaten wildlife that rely on oak forests for food and shelter.
Oak woodland stricken with sudden oak death.
The Washington, D.C.-based Center for Immigration Studies held a telephone news conference yesterday featuring UC Davis agricultural economist Phil Martin, who has written a paper titled "Farm Labor Shortages: How Real? What Response?" The paper examines workers' wages, farmers' earnings and the prospects of mechanization.
According to the media reports, Martin pointed to three indicators supporting his conclusion that there isn't a farm labor shortage:
- Fruit and vegetable production is rising
- The average earnings of farm workers are not going up extraordinarily fast
- The retail cost of fresh fruits and vegetables hasn't increased
Farmer and labor groups, however, dispute Martin's findings.
The immigration reporter from the Express News, Hernán Rozemberg, reported that the farm lobby was quick to dismiss the report as "flawed" and "superficial."
An immigration reform advocate quoted in the article says: "Dr. Martin's 'analysis' is extremely superficial. His 'study' ignores ... data that clearly point to a severe shortage of legal U.S. agricultural workers and raise troubling public policy questions."
A Bay Area television station called on UC Cooperative Extension wood durability advisor Stephen Quarles to comment for its story about "house-eating" fungus found in an East Bay home.
CBS TV-5 produced a story for yesterday's broadcast and Web site about the "rare fungus attack." Poria, the report said, is most common in the Gulf states, but it has attacked more than 200 homes in Northern and Southern California.
For the story, the TV station gave Quarles the title "fungus detective."
"You'll see them often behind a door you don't open so often," Quarles told the station. "The feeling that you're always dusting, always cleaning, there's always dirt."
This fungus gets into the home from the soil beneath, providing it's own water supply. According to the report, the only way to get rid of the fungus is to dig it out -- and the roots can grow up to 25 feet long. There are no chemical treatments.
The East Bay homeowner expects that ridding his home of the fungus will run $10,000 and is not covered by insurance.
The Fresno Bee ran an op-ed piece in Sunday's paper by Selma farmer Carol Chandler, a former UC Regent and UC Davis graduate, and Huron farmer Stuart Woolf, a UC Berkeley graduate. They made the case that California can't afford to not fund the UC system. They noted that a recent government report on "Investment Planning in the 21st Century" raises the possibility of eliminating all state funding for the UC system.
In their article, the writers said the proposal doesn't make sense to them. "If the recommendations in the report are implemented, UC Merced, and the other nine campuses that make up the world's greatest public research university, will be at risk," the article says.
The piece goes on to explain the many benefits Valley residents have realized due to University of California agricultural research and extension, a new local campus and UC health care contributions.
The article concludes: "The University of California is a public trust, and our legislators should help the Valley grow by reaffirming their commitment for sustained and substantial funding for our public university."
UC Cooperative Extension natural resources advisor Sabrina Drill planned a Santa Clarita Valley workshop on fire resistant vegetation long before the Southern California firestorm of 2007, but the severity of the disaster brought increased attention to her work.
Los Angeles Times staff writer Deborah Schoch covered the Nov. 3 event for the Sunday paper and quoted Drill extensively about fire hazards introduced when plants have been brought to Southern California from other locales.
Some of the non-native plants, unaccustomed to LA's hot summers, dry up and become fire hazards, Drill said, according to the article. Others, like eucalyptus, contain flammable oil. Some introduced plants overrun meadows and canyons, crowding out native vegetation.
Drill and other speakers at the workshop urged homeowners close to wild areas to avoid invasive species and to remove flammable vegetation from 100 feet or more around their homes, according to the article. They should remove dead leaves and other debris promptly.
"Think about maintenance, maintenance, maintenance," Drill said.
The article closed with a notation that the UCCE "Safe Landscapes" workshop will be repeated Nov. 17 in Malibu and Dec. 1 in Rolling Hills Estates. More information is at http://celosangeles.ucdavis.edu/Natural_Resources/Wildland_Fire.htm