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Posts Tagged: wildfire

The California's 2019 wildfire season takes off

As California grappled with a record-breaking heatwave last week and 236 wildfires, officials are bracing for the worst, reported Maanvi Singh in the Guardian.

The fires have been mostly fueled by grass and brush that came up during the state's especially wet winter and mild spring, according to a CAL FIRE official. UC Cooperative Extension fire advisor Lenya Quinn-Davidson said California's annual wildfire season is growing longer – beginning earlier in the spring and stretching later in the fall.

“It's not unusual for us to see this many small fires in June,” she said. “But 50 years ago, so many fires this early on – plus these extreme, high temperatures in June – would have been abnormal.”

It is difficult to predict how bad the rest of this fire season will be based on the number of fires so far, said UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain.

"Our worst fire years aren't necessarily the years that we've had the highest number of fires,” he noted. “All it takes is one – one huge, destructive fire to ruin the whole year."

Lenya Quinn-Davidson, center, is the UC Cooperative Extension fire scientist serving Humboldt, Siskiyou, Trinity and Mendocino counties. She is pictured with Jeanne Pincha-Tulley, left, and Kelly Martin, right, at a Women-in-Fire Prescribed Fire Training Exchange session.
Posted on Monday, June 17, 2019 at 9:36 AM
Tags: Lenya Quinn-Davidson (16), wildfire (151)
Focus Area Tags: Environment

More fire inspections needed to protect homes from wildfire

Public records show that the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), has not kept up with its fire inspection goals in many wildfire-prone areas of California, reported Lauren Sommer on KQED radio, the National Public Radio affiliate in San Francisco.

In one CAL FIRE region in the Sierra Nevada, just 6% of properties were inspected in 2018. In the Bay Area, CAL FIRE inspected 12% of properties. Southern California coastal counties have recorded inspections at higher rates, with some looking at 100% of properties.

"We should be doing more, doing better," said Max Moritz, UC Cooperative Extension wildfire specialist. "We need to have more people aware they are living on a fire-prone landscape and taking action."

The article said the agency's goal of inspecting 33% of homes each year is impeded by a lack of inspectors and resources. Lawmakers in Sacramento are now considering a bill, AB 1516, that mandates CAL FIRE inspect properties once every three years, beginning in 2021.

"There are not too many other ways people will learn about the vulnerability of their own home, other than having an inspector or firefighter at their property," Moritz said.

Fire scientists recommend that the five-foot-zone around structures be completely free of vegetation that can burn.
Posted on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at 9:11 AM
Tags: Max Moritz (34), Wildfire (151)
Focus Area Tags: Environment

Women fire fighters share new perspectives, ideas and innovation

Historically, fire fighting was a male-dominated field. With broader diversity needed, women are seizing the opportunity, reported The Nature Conservancy.

TNC ran a feature on its website about a prescribed fire on its Disney Wildness Preserve in Florida staffed and managed by an all-women crew.

"Everybody was here to work, and communication went well," said Jana Mott, the day's burn boss and TNC's northern Florida stewardship project coordinator. "It was like a well-oiled machine. There was a high level of professionalism all around. It felt like just another day of doing business on the fireline." 

The article also quoted UC Cooperative Extension fire scienctist Lenya Quinn-Davidson. She is director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council. Quinn-Davidson helped plan and lead the Women-in-Fire Prescribed Fire Training Exchange (WTREX) in Tallahassee, as well as two previous WTREX. 

Lenya Quinn-Davidson, UC Cooperative Extension fire scientist, said, 'We need to create space for women and men of different backgrounds to have a voice and contribute to this evolution.'

The field of wildland fire has for too long been “so conventional, so static—not only operationally, but also culturally,” Quinn Davidson said. “We see now that it's time for that to change. We need more perspectives, more ideas, more innovation—more creative discomfort. And we need to create space for women and men of different backgrounds to have a voice and contribute to this evolution.”

Read more about WTREX in the article Lighting up a new path: the Women-in-Fire Rx Fire Training Exchange (WTREX) by Quinn-Davidson on the UC ANR Forest Research and Outreach Blog.

Posted on Tuesday, May 28, 2019 at 11:26 AM
Tags: Lenya Quinn-Davidson (16), wildfire (151)
Focus Area Tags: Environment

Camp Fire researchers to share findings June 4 in Chico

Tracy Schohr samples water in a stream in Butte County below the town of Paradise. Photo by Ryan Schohr

Researchers who have been investigating the impacts of the Camp Fire and other urban fires in Northern California will gather June 4 in Chico to share what they have learned. Members of the public are invited to attend the Camp Fire Water Resources Monitoring and Research Symposium, which will be held at the California State University, Chico Farm located at 311 Nicholas C Shouten Lane, Chico, CA 95928.

“The recent urban fires across California have raised questions about the fire impacts on watershed health, food safety and groundwater,” said Tracy Schohr, UC Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor for Butte, Plumas and Sierra counties, who is organizing the symposium.

“The Camp Fire Water Resources Monitoring and Research Symposium on June 4 creates a forum for researchers across a broad spectrum of disciplines to share findings from research conducted in Butte County and across the North State.”

Betsy Karle, UC Cooperative Extension advisor, takes forage sample to look for ash during Camp Fire. Photo by Tracy Schohr
Symposium speakers will discuss their research conducted on waterways, gardens, working landscapes and the urban environment following the devastating wildfires in Butte, Shasta and Sonoma counties. The featured presentations will cover research design, preliminary outcomes and future research needs. 

“Chico State is partnering with University of California Cooperative Extension to host this educational symposium to help our community understand the impacts of the Camp Fire,” said Kasey DeAtley, Chico State professor in the College of Agriculture. “In a region rich in natural resources and agriculture production, there has been significant interest in the topic of urban fire implications and researchers have been working hard to find answers that will be shared at the symposium.”

The program will start at 9 a.m. and will feature three sessions. The day will kick off with a session titled “First Year Findings,” looking at initial rapid response for water quality, surface water monitoring, groundwater monitoring and more.

The second session is on “Urban Fires Impacts on Food and Agriculture” and will feature research presentations from UC Cooperative Extension on livestock drinking water quality and forage, eggs laid by backyard poultry, fruits and vegetables grown in gardens, and post-fire forest management.

The symposium will conclude with a session on future investigations, with Chico State professors sharing an overview of a comprehensive study underway to understand the impacts of the Camp Fire on water quality and soil health.  

For more information and to register, visit https://ucanr.edu/sites/Rangelands. The event is $50 to attend and includes program materials, morning refreshments and lunch. Parking is free at the Chico State Farm.  

Posted on Friday, May 17, 2019 at 2:00 PM
Tags: Tracy Schohr (5), Water Quality (25), wildfire (151)

Weeds and Wildfire

SJER Burned Site

Thanks to the recent hot weather (already surpassing 90 degrees several days in a row), we are starting to see the lush green hills near Fresno transition into gold. The much-needed rain we received this spring could unfortunately create a problem in the coming summer: thick forage growth can...

Posted on Monday, April 29, 2019 at 8:14 AM
Focus Area Tags: Natural Resources

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