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Posts Tagged: wildfire

UCCE offers prescribed-fire workshop for land managers

Prescribed burn
To reduce the dry grasses and shrubs that can fuel intense wildfires, California landowners and land managers are invited to attend a prescribed-fire workshop organized by University of California Cooperative Extension in October. The workshop will be offered in two locations – Placer County and Calaveras County.

On Oct. 2, the prescribed-fire workshop will be held at Colfax Veterans Memorial Hall, 22 Sunset Circle, Colfax. 

On Oct. 4, the workshop will be held at Ebbett's Pass Fire District, 1037 Blagen Road, Arnold. 

The one-day workshop is designed for landowners and land managers who want to learn skills in prescribed-fire planning and implementation. In addition to reducing wildfire fuels, prescribed fire is used to control invasive plant species and for ecological restoration.

Each workshop will feature similar content including presentations on prescribed fire, including local fire history and current fire research, prescribed fire permitting and legal considerations, fire weather forecasting and online tools, air quality and smoke management, fire terms and fire behavior, burn plan development, burn unit preparation and fire tools and equipment. Instructors will also discuss models for accomplishing prescribed fire on private lands, including prescribed burn associations and CAL FIRE's Vegetation Management Program.

During the last week of October, participants in each workshop will be invited by UC Cooperative Extension to a field trip to look at lands actively managed with prescribed fire and to participate in a live training burn (weather permitting) at UC Berkeley's Blodgett Research Forest in Georgetown in El Dorado County.

Each workshop costs $25 for lunch and educational materials and registration by Sept. 27 is required to participate. To register, please visit http://ucanr.edu/2018rxfireworkshops.

For more information, contact Susie Kocher, UC Cooperative Extension advisor, at (530) 542-2571 or sdkocher@ucanr.edu.

 

Posted on Wednesday, September 19, 2018 at 4:37 PM
Tags: prescribed fire (1), Susie Kocher (7), wildfire (131)
Focus Area Tags: Natural Resources

Californians must adapt their lives to fire

California is a place forged by fire, and its fierce fire-fighting policies are creating fuel-filled landscapes that will burn hotter and faster than ever, reported Lisa M. Krieger in the San Jose Mercury News.

"Unless we change course, we'll never work our way out of this dilemma," said UC fire scientist Scott Stephens. "Unless we can get ahead of it, it'll never get better."

 

The River Fire, part of the Mendocino Complex Fire, burned more than half of the UC Hopland Research and Extension Center in July 2018.

Strategies to live with fire were modeled at the UC Hopland Research and Extension Center when the Mendocino Complex Fire spread on its rolling oak woodland and chaparral landscape in late July. About 3,000 of the center's 5,300 acres burned.

In pastures where sheep had grazed, the oaks still have green leaves. In other areas not grazed since the 1950s, undergrowth provided a ladder for flames to reach oak canopies.

In areas were vegetation was reduced by grazing, "the fire was less intense. It skipped around more. It wasn't as complete a burn," said Hopland director John Bailey. "Having animals on the land reduced the hazard."

(Read more about the fire at Hopland in a blog post by community educator Hannah Bird.)

Prescribed burning is another strategy to maintain a forest that is resilient to fire.

“Prescribed burns are a really powerful and underused tool,” said UC Davis ecologist Malcolm North. When a wildfire hits pre-burned areas, “it just putzes along.”

Posted on Wednesday, September 19, 2018 at 1:50 PM
Focus Area Tags: Environment

Wildland-urban interface residents still build after burns

Even after wildfires have burned homes and taken lives, communities allow for rebuilding in wildland-urban interface areas prone to such disasters, reported Alistair Bland in the East Bay Express.

Van Butsic, a UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Berkeley, has studied the alarming trend of building homes in known fire-risk areas.

"We studied 30 of the largest fires since 1970," he said.

On average, 20 years after an inhabited area burns, most of the destroyed homes are rebuilt and many new homes were added — about twice as many homes in total as there were at the time of the burn.

UCCE forestry and natural resources advisor Sabrina Drill said people seem to have short memories.

"I (would) think people might think twice about building a home where there had just been a fire, but people seem to forget after about three years," Drill said.

 

UC ANR scientists say society tends to be concerned about wildfires during and immediately after high-profile catastrophic events. However, the attention is often short-lived and doesn't generate change before the next fire strikes.

Drill, Van Bustic and other UC Agriculture and Natural Resources scientists were sources for the nearly 5,000-word East Bay Express story about the hazards to people and property in the wildland-urban interface and ways to manage the problem in a state where climate change appears to be making wildfires more frequent and intense.

The article said most fire experts and community leaders believe not enough is being done to prevent catastrophic blazes. They want more prescribed burning to reduce fuel loads, increased funding for firefighting and wildfire research, and stricter controls on development in wooded areas.

"But that's so politically contentious — it's a line politicians walk up to but turn away from," said William Stewart, a UCCE forestry specialist at UC Berkeley.

He said society tends to be concerned about wildfires during and immediately after high-profile catastrophic events. However, the attention is often short-lived and doesn't generate change before the next fire strikes.

"It's surprisingly hard to get investments in fire prevention strategies, even after the scale of the fires we just had," Stewart said.

Stewart believes California's government should support more research into fire-safe building patterns and more effective vegetation management. Perhaps most importantly of all, he said, Californians must turn wildfire history into a learning experience.

"If we don't make significant investments in new ways of managing vegetation and building these housing developments in the (wildland-urban interface)," Stewart said, "we're going to be on this hamster wheel forever."

 

Posted on Tuesday, August 28, 2018 at 8:37 AM
Focus Area Tags: Environment

URGENT: Post Fire Research Opportunities at Hopland REC

HREC and Post-Fire Research Opportunities

What is HREC?

The UC Hopland Research & Extension Center (HREC) is a multi-disciplinary research and education facility in Mendocino County located in the foothills of the Coast Range about two hours north of Berkeley. As part of the UC system for over 65 years, we are stewards of more than 5,300 acres of oak woodland, grassland, chaparral, and riparian environments.  Elevation at the center ranges from 500 ft to 3,000 ft. HREC currently maintains a research flock of about 500 breeding ewes that have been the subjects of numerous studies on ranching practices, range management, livestock nutrition, wool production and breeding.  Field experiments and demonstrations conducted here since 1951 have led to more than 1,500 publications in animal science, entomology, plant ecology, public health, watershed management, and wildlife biology.  Our website is hrec.ucanr.edu.

The River Fire

As part of the Mendocino Complex fire, the River Fire burned through HREC on the evening of July 27 and into July 28.  Approximately 3,000 acres of our center burned in this fire. Due to the concentrated efforts of Center staff and Cal Fire crews, all of our employees, residents, sheep, livestock dogs, offices and residences were saved.  Below please find the burn map of our property.  All of the black area to the north was burned and the dark red patches were areas of vegetation that remained unburned. The fire intensity varied greatly as did oak survival. You will see two smaller burned areas in the southern part of the property that were prescribed burns performed in June of this year.

Research Opportunities

While this was a blow to current research, pastures, and water infrastructure, we also see this as a wonderful opportunity.  Due to extensive historical data sets and ongoing research projects, coupled with a variety of grazed and ungrazed pastures, and prescribed burn plots for comparison with wildfire, there is enormous potential for pre- and post-fire studies in the fields of:

  • Watersheds and hydrology; fire science; plant science; soil science; entomology and parasitology; wildlife and wildlife ecology; rangeland management; grazing practices as fire suppression…..

To support this research, HREC offers:

  • A well maintained network of roads that accesses almost all parts of the property, vehicles to use.
  • A fully equipped shop staffed by employees skilled in fabrication and repair of research equipment

o    Electrical, wood working, welding and metal fabrication, mechanical

  • Skilled staff trained in field work techniques, with long histories of successful research support
  • Fiber optic internet with Wi-Fi access throughout headquarters, strong cell service in most areas
  • A vault of raw data, photos, and final papers from research conducted at HREC.
  • Warehouses for storing equipment, a variety of accommodations from dorms to private houses
  • Wet and dry lab space (undergoing renovation during fall 2018, available spring 2019)
  • Lysimeter with available watering system, electrical connections, and fiber optic access point
  • A research flock of sheep consisting of just under 500 breeding ewes, with all needed facilities and RFID tracking
  • Fenced pastures and biological reserve areas for different treatment plots and controls
  • A fully equipped conference facility with A/V equipment and fiber optic connections

Next Steps

  • Zoom meeting on September 7th, 10am. More in depth information, Q&A.
  • Field day on October 19th, 10am-5pm. Presentations, brainstorming, Q&A, site tours, available accommodations
  • To register for either event follow this link: http://ucanr.edu/survey/survey.cfm?surveynumber=25451

Contact: HREC Interim Director John Bailey, jtbailey@ucanr.edu, (707) 744-1424 x 112



 

 

Posted on Thursday, August 23, 2018 at 11:34 AM
Tags: Chaparral (1), Fire (14), Grazing (1), Opportunity (1), Post-Fire (1), Prescribed burn (1), Rangeland (6), Rangeland Management (1), Research (1), River Fire (1), Sheep (4), Wildfire (131)

The California fires situation is concerning, but not hopeless

The news that Americans are getting about California's devasting fires is not being hyped up by the media, said UC Cooperative Extension area fire advisor Lenya Quinn-Davidson on the nationally broadcast NPR program On Point.

Host Eric Westervelt of WBUR in Boston got a Northern California perspective from Quinn-Davidson, who works with communities in Siskiyou, Trinity and Mendocino counties on managing the threat of wildfires and is the Northern California coordinator of the California Fire Science Consortium. 

"I definitely don't think the situation is being hyped up," Quinn-Davidson said. "I'm in Ukiah and there's a thick blanket of smoke. Everyone can feel the tension of the Mendocino Complex Fire."

Lenya Quinn-Davidson

Quinn-Davidson said she grew up in the vicinity and, back then, major fires like those burning today only happened every few years. Lately, such super fire seasons are happening every year. She said it's time for Californians to take a different approach when thinking about fire.

"Fire is the only natural disaster that we fight against," Quinn-Davidson said. "With hurricanes and earthquakes, we adapt and try to identify vulnerabilities and change our behavior. We haven't treated fire like that. We need to learn how to adapt and make changes that make us more resilient to fire."

On Point is NPR's only call-in program. One caller asked whether climate change has reached an irreversible tipping point at which little can be done to reverse the damage that is causing extreme flooding, heat, hurricanes and wildfires.

Quinn-Davidson said she offers hope to the people in communities she serves.

"They're not powerless," she said. "I don't want people to feel that we are beyond some tipping point and they should just throw in the towel. I think we need to feel empowered to make the changes we can make - whether on a personal scale, at at the mid-grade community scale, or if it is taking political action to make larger change ... We still have some place to make a difference. I really believe that."

Michael Mann, professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, was also a guest on the On Point program. He said that, as a nation, we may have breached a different tipping point - a tipping point in public consciousness. Recent news reports have informed the public about extreme flooding in Japan, record-breaking heat in Europe and catastrophic wildfires in California.

"This summer has made a difference in the public perception of how profound the threat of climate change already is," Mann said. "And I like to think that when they go to the voting booths in less than 100 days, they're going to be thinking about climate change and the need to act on this problem. I think we will see progress."

Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2018 at 3:15 PM
Focus Area Tags: Environment

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