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Posts Tagged: Sabrina Drill

More people live in fire-prone communities

As the human population on planet earth, now about 7.6 billion people, continues to grow, more will settle in areas prone to wildfire, reported Mary Beth Griggs in Popular Science magazine.

The reporter spoke with UC Cooperative Extension natural resources advisor Sabrina Drill about wildfire preparation.

First, make sure that an emergency kit is up to date and important papers are in a safe place.

“Know that under conditions of mandatory evacuation, you will encounter traffic, frightening conditions, highly limited visibility due to smoke, etc., so being ready and leaving early is really important,” Drill said.

If there is time, there are important last-minute actions that can be taken to minimize potential fire damage. She suggests moving flammable garden furniture and wood piles away from structures, taking down shade cloths or awnings that could trap embers and making sure doors and windows are closed.

"One thing I would not advise is either leaving sprinklers running or hoping that automatic sprinklers will save a structure, as power may be cut, water lines can melt, and the water and water pressure may be needed by firefighters elsewhere," Drill said.

UC Cooperative Extension provides information to guide actions before, during and after a wildfire on its wildfire resources website.

UCCE natural resources advisor Sabrina Drill is a fire science expert.
Posted on Monday, July 9, 2018 at 3:02 PM
Tags: Sabrina Drill (9)
Focus Area Tags: Natural Resources

Heavy rains this winter may help native fish in the LA River make a comeback

Biologists believe a high volume of water flowing through the Los Angeles River this winter due to El Niño rain will favor native fish, reported Louis Sahagun in the Los Angeles Times. Native species - who evolved in river systems prone to sudden torrents of water, mud, bolders and debris in winter and pools and damp patches in summer - main gain an edge when the river rages.

Currently, the fish population in the river is almost entirely non-native. Released as bait by anglers, dumped by the city to eat unwelcome species, and aquarium fish set free by their owners now populate the river's waters.

The forecast heavy rains during the 2015-16 winter present an opportunity to determine whether nonnative fish will be washed out of the river and into the Pacific Ocean, giving native fish a new chance to become established.

"If we are ever going to fully understand the ecology of this river, and prospects for the return of species that evolved in it, we have to know first what's in it now, and how well those creatures do in extreme conditions," said biologist Rosi Dagit of the Resource Conservation District.

UC Cooperative Extension natural resources advisor Sabrina Drill was among a group of biologists and volunteers who surveyed the fish in the river in late November with seines, dip nets and rods and reels. After six hours, the team caught about 3,000 talapia, two dozen crayfish, a few hundred mosquito fish, one aquarium species and two Asian freshwater clams.

The research is funded by the Friends of the Los Angeles River.

 

Posted on Friday, December 4, 2015 at 11:34 AM

Citizen science in the L.A. River expanding

The Friends of the Los Angeles River organization is expanding its citizen science monitoring of fish in the Los Angeles River to additional locations, reported Carren Jao in KCET Columns.

Since 2008, the volunteers have been catching fish in Elysian Valley of the L.A. River and delivering them for analysis to three biologists, including Sabrina Drill, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension advisor in Los Angeles County. The biologists found that the fish caught here were healthier and lower in mercury and PCBs than fish in the ocean. The surprising finding is likely due to the natural river bottom in the Glendale Narrows portion of the river.

Now volunteers will be turning their attention to parts of the L.A. River in Long Beach and the Sepulveda Basin to establish a baseline for those areas.

Citizen scientists can also help document the state of the L.A. River by contributing to a project created by UC ANR's Sabrina Drill on the web and smartphone app iNaturalist. Anglers can take a smartphone photo of their L.A. River catch and upload it to iNaturalist. The smartphone automatically records the time and day, and the GPS coordinates where the fish was caught. Much like iNaturalist does for birds, lizards, and insects, the L.A. River fish page creates a digital community where fishermen can boast of their accomplishments, but also build a record of the river's biodiversity using their smartphones.

The iNaturalist page created by UC ANR's Sabrina Drill to track fish in the L.A. River.
Posted on Wednesday, May 6, 2015 at 2:33 PM

The California Naturalist program hits its stride

California Naturalist Scott Van Tyle takes a close look at a sea kelp rootball on the beach at Asilomar.
Under sunny skies, a cool breeze blowing off the ocean at Asilomar State Beach, California Naturalist Scott Van Tyle pulls out a knife and begins dissecting a seaweed root ball that had washed up on the sand. A group of fellow naturalists quickly gather around to see what tiny sea creatures call the massive tangle home.

Similar scenes were repeated frequently during the three-day California Naturalist conference in October. The legless lizards and gopher snake brought in by a Fort Ord Dunes State Park ranger, a family of raccoons under the dining hall deck, deer browsing among the cottages and a beautiful sunset drew quick attention from participants. It is this enthusiasm that defines California Naturalists, a community with more than a love of nature, but a strong inclination toward gaining new knowledge, conserving the natural world and sharing their passion with others.

“We are in a room full of early adopters,” said Adina Merenlender to certified California Naturalists, instructors and aspiring naturalists at the conference. “It's amazing to see the seeds we planted growing into a real community. Everyone here has helped start this new community of practice.”

Naturalists Justine Faust, left, and Chris Lay with legless lizards at the California Naturalist statewide conference.
“Community of practice” is a relatively new concept that has been embraced by the California Naturalist program. Coined by Etienne Wenger, communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.

“This is exactly what we are doing,” said Merenlender, co-director of the California Naturalist statewide program and UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley.

At the conference, California Naturalists learned from world-class experts about engaging with nature and interpretation, coupling science and art, taking part in citizen science, preparing for global change, and protecting the state from invasive species. But perhaps the most important outcome was the opportunity for kindred spirits to share the weekend, forge lasting relationships and set future collaborations in motion.

“We're building a movement here,” said one of the conference speakers, nature writer and artist John Muir Laws. “We want to be strengthening ourselves. Our strength comes from the strands of the web between us.”

California Naturalists from around the state will reconvene in 2016. In the meantime, plans are being formulated to further develop the program, both in numbers and form, by reaching out to new audiences that will enhance the community of practice.

Naturalist Margaret Otto draped a gopher snake around her shoulders.
Since the program's inception, the majority of new California Naturalists have been volunteers who serve as stewards, data collectors, or as labor for restoration projects at land management, informal education, and conservation organizations in conservation organizations. The program aims to widen the scope in order to bring in naturalists with a range of skills, backgrounds and experiences.

Sabrina Drill, co-director of the California Naturalist program and UC Cooperative Extension advisor in LA County, is reaching out to the Los Angeles Conservation Corps to see if the California Naturalist curriculum can be used to enrich the training now offered to young people enrolled in the program.

“The LACC participants learn important practical skills, like how to fell a tree and how to use a chain saw,” Drill said. “They have told me they would like to provide environmental background to participants so they learn why they are thinning forests and why they are removing invasive plants. We would provide them with the environmental science context.”

Another area where the California Naturalist program is poised to grow is with organizations that connect with regional, state and national parks.

“We can work with these groups to increase capacity in resource management at parks,” Merenlender said. “Government agencies can accomplish the nuts and bolts of local operations, but they can rarely provide the scientific and environmental literacy training for staff and volunteers.”

A third initiative aims to reach out to teachers. Drill and Merenlender are exploring a host of potential partnerships that can connect the California Naturalist community of practice to children, including UC's Project Learning Tree, the long-running Forestry Institute for Teachers, the San Jose Children's Discovery Museum, and the UCCE 4-H Youth Development program.

“If teachers take part in the California Naturalist program, they will bring what they learned back to the classroom,” Merenlender said. “As a community of practice, we are committed to helping our teachers ensure youth the environmental literacy intended by the increasingly popular slogan, ‘No child left inside.'”

For more information, see the California Naturalist website.

Posted on Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 9:56 AM

Unseen for decades in the LA River, environmentalists continue search for steelhead trout

A group of environmentalists spent a morning recently wading in the Los Angeles River in search of Southern California steelhead trout, reported Louis Shagun in the Los Angeles Times.

The endangered species hasn't been found in the LA River since 1938, around the time the waterway was lined with concrete for flood control. The volunteers hope to document a steelhead trout in the river in order to trigger greater scrutiny and perhaps tighter regulations to support the species.

"We would know that even though this river has been so heavily degraded, conditions are appropriate for the species' return," said Sabrina L. Drill, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Los Angeles County. "It would give us more hope of saving it from extinction."

The morning search netted trash, algae, baby smelt, a shopping cart and discarded concrete slabs, but no steelhead trout.

"Thanks for giving it a try — but we're officially skunked," said Rosi Dagit, senior biologist for the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains. "We'll try again later."

Steelhead trout begin life as rainbow trout. For unknown reasons, some migrate to the ocean and become steelhead. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Posted on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 at 2:37 PM

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