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Posts Tagged: wildfire

University of California ANR wildfire experts

Dry, hot summer days mean fire weather in California.
UC ANR wildfire experts are stationed around the state and can answer questions on a diversity of issues related to the prevention, impacts, aftermath, and generally, the science of wildfire in California.

University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) is a division of the University with scientists based on three UC campuses and in UC Cooperative Extension offices serving all California counties. UC ANR conducts research and shares research-based information with the public about wildfire, agricultural production, environmental stewardship, water policy, youth development and nutrition. 

Travis Bean
UC ANR Cooperative Extension weed specialist at UC Riverside
Management of invasive plants that introduce or alter fire regimes
(951) 827-5130
travis.bean@ucr.edu

Van Butsic
UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Berkeley
Land change science including fire and land use planning
(510) 666-5400
vanbutsic@berkeley.edu

Mike De Lasaux
UC ANR Cooperative Extension natural resources advisor for Plumas and Sierra counties
Wildfire fuel reduction on small forest parcels, forestry and watershed management
(530) 283-6125
mjdelasaux@ucanr.edu

Sabrina Drill
UC ANR Cooperative Extension natural resources advisor for Los Angeles and Ventura counties
Plant arrangement, building design and maintenance to reduce fire risk, invasive weeds and pests contributing to fire risk
(626) 586-1975
sldrill@ucanr.edu

Maggi Kelly
UC ANR Cooperative Extension natural resource monitoring specialist
Geographic information science, mapping forests
(510) 642-7272
maggi@berkeley.edu

Susan Kocher
UC ANR Cooperative Extension natural resources advisor in the Central Sierra
Fire adapted communities, fire hazard mitigation in forests, post fire restoration
“Living with Fire in the Tahoe Basin” website, http://www.livingwithfire.info/tahoe/
(530) 542-2571
sdkocher@ucanr.edu 

Chris McDonald
UC ANR Cooperative Extension natural resources advisor
Desert species, invasive plants and fire
(909) 387-2242
cjmcdonald@ucanr.edu

Richard Minnich
Professor of earth sciences, UC ANR Agricultural Experiment Station, UC Riverside
Fire ecology of Southern California, Baja California, and temperate Mexico; exotic plant invasions, climate change.
(951) 827-5515
minnich@ucr.edu

Max Moritz
UC ANR Cooperative Extension wildfire specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley. He is located in Santa Barbara County.
Wildland fire, fire modeling, fire effects, shrubland ecosystems and spatial patterns of fire disturbance, climate change adaptation
mmoritz@berkeley.edu

Malcolm North
Associate professor of Forest Ecology, UC ANR ecologist
Forest recovery
(530) 754-7398
mpnorth@ucdavis.edu

Lenya Quinn-Davidson
UC Cooperative Extension Area fire advisor - Northern California
Fire ecology and management
(707) 445-7351
lquinndavidson@ucanr.edu

Dave Rizzo
Plant pathology professor, UC ANR pathologist
Fire and infectious disease
(530) 752-0300
dmrizzo@ucdavis.edu

Kimberly Rodrigues
UC ANR Cooperative Extension natural resources advisor 
Public participation in resource management
(530) 750-1283
karodrigues@ucanr.edu

Mark Schwartz
Environmental science professor at UC Davis and UC ANR ecologist
Forest plot mapping
(530) 752-0671
mwschwartz@ucdavis.edu

Tom Scott
UC ANR Cooperative Extension area natural resources wildlife specialist for Southern California
Conservation of wildlife, wildlife management at the urban-wildland interface, and response of plants and animal species to fire
(951) 827-5115
thomas.scott@ucr.edu

Scott Stephens
Professor of fire science and co-director Center for Fire Research and Outreach at UC Berkeley, UC ANR fire scientist
Fire ecology, fire behavior, wildfire, fuels treatments, forest mortality, fire policy
(510) 642-7304
sstephens@berkeley.edu

Bill Stewart
UC ANR Cooperative Extension forestry specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley and co-director Center for Fire Research and Outreach
Economics of fire prevention and fire suppression programs
(510) 643-3130
billstewart@berkeley.edu

Yana Valachovic 
UC ANR Cooperative Extension forest advisor in Humboldt and Del Norte counties and member of the Northern California Fire Science Consortium hub
Home and landscape design considerations for wildfire, prescribed fire, forest health and prescribed fire, wildfire and fuels in redwood, Douglas-fir and tanoak forests, fire education
(707) 445-7351
yvala@ucanr.edu

For more information, contact: Jeannette Warnert, (559) 240-9850, jewarnert@ucanr.edu and Pam Kan-Rice, (510) 206-3476, pam.kanrice@ucanr.edu

Posted on Thursday, July 20, 2017 at 3:45 PM
Tags: wildfire (108)

Precipitation and wildfire impacted by climate change

A new study out of UC Riverside projects an increase in rain and snow in California due to climate change, reported Matt Smith on Seeker.com. Anthropogenic impacts on climate are expected to produce a chronic El Niño-like weather pattern off the Pacific coast of the U.S., leading to about 12 percent more rain and snow by 2100.

The study used a newer computer model and relied on other models that have a better record of simulating precipitation and the effects of an El Niño on the state. El Niño, the cyclical warming of the Pacific Ocean near Earth's equator, typically produces warmer temperatures across much of the United States and more rainfall over California.

More rain and fire predicted for California due to climate change.

Meanwhile, an article by Joshua Emerson Smith in the San Diego Union-Tribune presented less-welcome climate change news. It concluded that wildfires are expected to get longer and more intense in California due to climate change.

“We will need some very new approaches to deal with both the increasing hazard of fire and our increasing exposure to it,” said Max Moritz, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in fire ecology and management at UC Berkeley's College of Natural Resources. “The situation we have created is dangerous, and without a major shift in perspective it will only get worse.”

There are ways to limit the ignition of the wildfires. The article said about 95 percent of all wildfires are caused by people, so it's important to be aware of fire-safe practices pertaining to home maintenance, campfires, target shooting, vehicle use and other outdoor activities. 

Here are a few examples of fire-safe best practices:

  • Mow lawns in the morning before it gets too hot. Never mow when it is windy or extremely dry. Avoid rocks when mowing; metal blades can cause sparks when they hit rocks.
  • Don't drive a vehicle on dry grass or brush. Don't allow vehicle brakes to wear thin, as thin brakes can cause sparks. Carry a fire extinguisher in the car.
  • Maintain 100 feet of defensible space around homes in fire-prone areas. UC ANR experts recommend a five-foot zone immediately adjacent to the home be completely devoid of plants and anything combustible.

 

Posted on Friday, July 14, 2017 at 10:16 AM
Tags: climate change (16), Max Moritz (17), rain (1), wildfire (108)

Great Plains' wildfires have tripled since 1985

Wildfires used to be rare in the Great Plains, but that is no longer the case. A new study shows the average number of large fires grew from about 33 per year in 1985 to 117 per year in 2014, reported Chris Mooney in the Washington Post.

The study's lead author, Victoria Donovan of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, said the increasing number of wildfires is consistent with climate change and an incursion of more invasive plant species that could be providing fuel.

UC Cooperative Extension specialist Max Moritz said the study's results align with his observations. However, he added that he suspects that they reflect not so much human-caused climate change, but rather, changing human behavior. Humans have been found to be overwhelmingly responsible for lighting U.S. wildfires over the past 20 years, according to research he cited. But these facts should not downplay the importance of dealing with anthropogenic climate change.

"It does highlight the importance of human ignitions and where/how we build our communities on the landscape," Moritz said. "Wildfire is not going away anytime soon. We must learn, as a society, to coexist with wildfire."

 

The Great Plains in Nebraska, where wildfire is striking more frequently. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Posted on Monday, June 19, 2017 at 1:32 PM
Tags: Max Moritz (17), wildfire (108)

New era of western wildfire demands new ways of protecting people, ecosystems

Humans will have to adapt to living with wildfire, write University of Colorado Boulder and UC ANR scientists. Adaptation includes reforming federal, state and local policies that have the unintended consequence of encouraging people to develop in fire-prone areas.

Current wildfire policy can't adequately protect people, homes and ecosystems from the longer, hotter fire seasons climate change is causing, according to a new paper led by the University of Colorado Boulder.

Efforts to extinguish every blaze and reduce the buildup of dead wood and forest undergrowth are becoming increasingly inadequate on their own. Instead, the authors—a team of wildfire experts—urge policymakers and communities to embrace policy reform that will promote adaptation to increasing wildfire and warming. 

“Wildfire is catching up to us,” said lead author Tania Schoennagel, a research scientist at CU Boulder's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. “We're learning our old tools aren't enough and we need to approach wildfire differently.”

This means accepting wildfire as an inevitable part of the landscape, states the new paper[1]  published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The western U.S. has seen a 2-degrees-Celsius rise in annual average temperature and lengthening of the fire season by almost three months since the 1970s; both elements contribute to what the authors refer to as the “new era of western wildfires.” This pattern of bigger, hotter fires, along with the influx of homes into fire-prone areas—over 2 million since 1990—has made wildfire vastly more costly and dangerous.

“For a long time, we've thought that if we try harder and do better, we can get ahead of wildfire and reduce the risks,” said Schoennagel, who also is an adjunct faculty member in CU Boulder's Geography Department. “We can no longer do that. This is bigger than us and we're going to have to adapt to wildfire rather than the other way around.”

As part of this adaptation process, the authors advocate for actions that may be unpopular, such as allowing more fires to burn largely unimpeded in wildland areas and intentionally setting more fires, or “controlled burns,” to reduce natural fuels like undergrowth in more developed areas. Both these steps would reduce future risk and help ecosystems adapt to increasing wildfire and warming.

They also argue for reforming federal, state and local policies that have the unintended consequence of encouraging people to develop in fire-prone areas. Currently, federal taxpayers pick up the tab for preventing and fighting western wildfires—a cost that has averaged some $2 billion a year in recent years. If states and counties were to bear more of that cost, it would provide incentive to adopt planning efforts and fire-resistant building codes that would reduce risk.

Re-targeting forest thinning efforts is another beneficial reform suggested by the authors. The federal government has spent some $5 billion since 2006 on thinning dense forests and removing fuel from some 7 million hectares (17 million acres) of land, often in remote areas. But these widespread efforts have done little to reduce record-setting fires. Directing thinning projects to particularly high-risk areas, including communities in fire-prone regions and forests in particularly dry areas, would increase adaptation to wildfire, the authors said.

Additionally, as climate change forces species to move their ranges, some may vanish entirely. Familiar landscapes will disappear, a fact that makes many people balk. But such changes, including those caused by wildfire, could be necessary for the environment in the long run, says Max Moritz, University of California Cooperative Extension wildfire specialist and a co-author on the paper.

“We need the foresight to help guide these ecosystems in a healthy direction now so they can adjust in pace with our changing climate,” Moritz said. “That means embracing some changes while we have a window to do so.”

Critical to making a policy of adaptation successful, said Schoennagel, will be education and changing people's perception of wildfire. “We have to learn that wildfire is inevitable, in the same way that droughts and flooding are. We've tried to control fire, but it's not a control we can maintain. Like other natural disasters, we have to learn to adapt.”

 

Posted on Monday, April 17, 2017 at 1:00 PM
Tags: Max Moritz (17), wildfire (108)

Women learn to burn and lead in fire management in Northern California Oct. 19-28

Retired U.S. Forest Service fire chief Jeanne Pincha-Tulley, second from right, is among the inspiring women leaders encouraging women to aspire to be wildland fire managers at the Women-in-Fire Prescribed Fire Training Exchange.

Workshop aims to spark women's ambition to become leaders in fire management

Shortly after her son was born, Jeanne Pincha-Tulley was promoted to fire chief of a national forest. For the first six months, she brought the baby to work.

“Most of my colleagues were men between 40 and 50. I was 31,” recalled Pincha-Tulley, who was the first woman to achieve the rank of U.S. Forest Service fire chief in California. “My second son was 6 weeks old and nursing. They had no idea what to do. They absolutely freaked out.”  

While great efforts are being made to recruit women into fire management, women hold only 10 percent of wildland fire positions and 7 percent of leadership roles. A new training focuses on grooming women to lead in fire management.

To encourage to women build stronger networks and pursue leadership roles in fire management, Pincha-Tulley, who retired in 2015 after 36 years with the U.S. Forest Service, will be speaking from experience on gender roles at the Women-in-Fire Prescribed Fire Training Exchange (WTREX) in Northern California. She will also serve as deputy incident commander for the event.

The training will provide a "supportive environment for women and men to understand and elevate the need for diversity in fire management—not only in numbers, but also in approach," said Lenya Quinn-Davidson. Photo by Larry Luckham)

WHO:  Participants from 12 states and four countries, including 38 women and six men, who work for federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, tribes and universities. Organizers include Pincha-Tulley, Lenya Quinn-Davidson, UC Cooperative Extension wildland fire advisor and director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council; and Amanda Stamper, The Nature Conservancy fire management officer in Oregon, among others. Guest speakers include Sarah McCaffrey, USDA Forest Service research social scientist; Johnny Stowe, forester/biologist/yoga teacher/fire manager of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources; Gwen Sanchez, deputy fire chief for the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, and many more.

WHAT:  WTREX participants will serve in qualified and trainee firefighting positions to implement prescribed burns throughout the region. They will complete pre- and post-fire monitoring, train with equipment, practice fireline leadership skills and learn about local fire ecology and fire management.

WHERE: The training will take place in Trinity and Shasta counties. Sites include open prairies, oak woodlands, mixed-conifer forests and chaparral. Field trips will be made to areas burned in recent wildfires and to prescribed fire and fuels treatment project sites.

WHEN: Oct. 19-28, beginning in Hayfork, ending in Redding. Burning and other outdoor activities will depend on the weather.

DETAILS: The 12-day hands-on prescribed fire training, modeled after prescribed fire training events that take place across the country, will include beginners to seasoned professionals. The difference is that most of the participants are women.

“I'm excited for this event because it will transcend the usual TREX emphasis on cooperative burning and learning,” Lenya Quinn-Davidson, UC Cooperative Extension wildland fire advisor, who is part of the team organizing the event. “It will explicitly recognize and reinforce the importance of female perspective and leadership in fire management, and provide a supportive environment for women and men to understand and elevate the need for diversity in fire management—not only in numbers, but also in approach.”

Women hold only 10 percent of wildland fire positions and 7 percent of leadership roles.

Based at the Tahoe National Forest, Pincha-Tulley oversaw 1.6 million acres, including fire suppression, prescribed fire and aviation operations.

As the only woman among the 17 national Incident Commanders, Pincha-Tulley looked for allies and mentors. In 2005, the year she was promoted to Type 1 Incident Commander, she led her team to Mississippi to assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. She was essentially invisible to the Air Force generals and Navy admirals until she put general stars on her uniform. A NASA director, a man, coached her, saying, “Are you going to let them take over the meeting? You're their peer, make yourself one.” He proceeded to mentor her, based on NASA's training for women in management.

“When you look for those people who can help, you begin to attract them,” Pincha-Tulley said. One of the primary goals of the Women-in-Fire Prescribed Fire Training Exchange is to connect women who work in fire, providing them with new networking and mentoring opportunities.

WTREX is co-hosted by eight primary partners as well as additional collaborators. These include the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council, the Fire Learning Network, the Cultural Fire Management Council, the Watershed Research and Training Center, the Bureau of Land Management, the USDA Forest Service, the California Fire Science Consortium, University of California Cooperative Extension, and other collaborators.

WTREX is supported by Promoting Ecosystem Resiliency through Collaboration: Landscapes, Learning and Restoration, a cooperative agreement between The Nature Conservancy, USDA Forest Service and agencies of the Department of the Interior. 

Posted on Monday, October 17, 2016 at 4:23 PM

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