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Posts Tagged: Greg Giusti

ANR in the news March 13-28

New Series of Nitrogen Management Advice Available

(Cal Ag Today) March 28

California growers can download a new series of publications summarizing efficient nitrogen management practices from UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. The publications are designed to assist growers in complying with state regulations for tracking and reporting nitrogen fertilizer applied to crops, in an effort to prevent nitrogen from leaching into groundwater.

https://californiaagtoday.com/new-series-of-nitrogen-management-advice-available

 

UC helps growers comply with new regulations

(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, March 27

A few months ago, while I was working with Todd Fitchette on a special package we were doing (or, he was doing and I was pitching in on) that focused on the 50th anniversary of the Citrus Research Board, I wrote a column about the benefits of land-grant universities such as the University of California (UC).

It's not an overstatement, I wrote, that the vast network of UC Cooperative Extension offices and research facilities has enabled agriculture in the Golden State to survive amid daunting challenges.

https://www.farmprogress.com/commentary/uc-helps-growers-comply-new-regulations

 

Communities come together to reforest Middletown Trailside Park

(Record Bee) Lucy Llewellyn Byard, March 27 

Outdoorsman Greg Gusti, a University of California cooperative extension director emeritus who specializes in forests and wild lands ecology, addressed the crowd and gave them instructions on how to plant the trees 20 feet apart; showed them what 20 feet looked like on a tape measure, told them to plant the green side up and to keep the roots straight.

… Students dug in groups, sharing shovels and gloves. Sofie Hall and Elissa Holyoke worked with Michael Jones, a UC Cooperative Extension Forestry Advisor to plant their saplings.

https://www.record-bee.com/2019/03/27/communities-come-together-to-reforest-middletown-trailside-park

 

The science and politics of genetically engineered salmon: 5 questions answered

(The Conversation) Alison Van Eenennaam, March 27

A Massachusetts-based company earlier this month cleared the last regulatory hurdle from the Food and Drug Administration to sell genetically engineered salmon in the U.S. Animal genomics expert Alison Van Eenennaam, who served on an advisory committee to the FDA to evaluate the AquAdvantage salmon, explains the significance of the FDA's move and why some have criticized its decision.

https://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/The-science-and-politics-of-genetically-13719679.php

 

Students learn about insects at Farm Day in the City

(ABC 23) Amanda Mason, March 26

David Haviland, UCCE advisor in Kern County, taught students about good bugs and bad bugs at Farm Day in the City.

"Every single insect plays a role, even if it's only purpose is to get eaten by something. Everything is important," said Haviland.

David Haviland an entomologist at the University of California's Extension who studies insects and helps farmers manage agricultural pests, spent Tuesday at the Kern County Fairgrounds teaching students about good bugs and bad bugs at Farm Day in the City.

https://www.turnto23.com/homepage-showcase/students-learn-about-insects-at-farm-day-in-the-city

 

Expert: Speak up now about agriculture's carbon footprint

(Leader Telegram) Brooke Bechen, March 25

Dr. Frank Mitloehner, a professor and air quality extension specialist in the Department of Animal Science at the University of California-Davis, isn't afraid to speak up, particularly on Twitter where he writes under the handle @GHGGuru. He sees 2.5 million people visiting his Twitter account each month, which provides accurate information on air emissions and busts myths distributed by those looking to attack animal agriculture.

“Being in California is like being at Ground Zero,” he said. “There are urban centers of people who think they're food experts, but most of these people have never set foot on a farm and don't know anything about agriculture.

https://www.leadertelegram.com/country-today/farm/expert-speak-up-now-about-agriculture-s-carbon-footprint/article_888717c3-9cae-58c1-b004-e245cc7e2dc4.html

 

Wildfire Speaker Series Tonight: Fire Resistant Homes & Defensible Space

(YubaNet) March 25

…Dr. Kate Wilkin is the new Forest and Fire Adviser with UC Cooperative Extension in Butte, Nevada, Sutter, and Yuba Counties. She recently moved here from Berkeley, CA where she was postdoctoral researcher focused on wildfire emissions and fire-forest-water relations. Her PhD, also at UC Berkeley, focused on the efficacy of fuel treatments in Northern California shrublands to reduce fire hazards and on mixed conifer forest-fire-water and fire-biodiversity relations. Before moving to California, Kate grew up in rural Appalachia and then explored other fire-prone regions of the US as a natural resource manager and prescribed fire burner on public and nonprofit lands. Based on these experiences and more, she knows that we need to use solutions responsibly, both old and new, to solve our forest health crisis. Kate will be focusing on incorporating fire safe concepts into residential landscaping.

https://yubanet.com/regional/wildfire-speaker-series-tonight-fire-resistant-homes-defensible-space

 

UC Cooperative offers water-measurement class

(David Enterprise) March 25

California water rights holders are required by state law to measure and report the water they divert from surface streams. For people who wish to take the water measurements themselves, the University of California Cooperative Extension is offering training to receive certification April 4 in Redding and Woodland.

 https://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/press-release/uc-cooperative-offers-water-measurement-class

Costa Mesa designates April as Coyote Awareness Month and approves further informational efforts to manage them

(Los Angeles Times) Luke Money, March 20

…In the past 30 days, about 20 coyote sightings or encounters in Costa Mesa were logged with Coyote Cacher, an online reporting system [created by Niamh Quinn, UCCE advisor, and IGIS].
https://www.latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/news/tn-dpt-me-cm-coyote-plan-20190320-story.html

 

UCCE Biologicals Conference Introduces New Crop Protection Tools for Growers

(Vegetables West) Matthew Malcolm, March 19, 2019

Biocontrol agents, beneficial microbes, entomopathogenic fungi and bacteria that can enhance crop production — these were all topics of discussion at the recent UC Cooperative Extension Ag Innovations Conference in Santa Maria, led by UCCE Entomology & Biologicals Advisor Surendra Dara.  Watch this brief interview with Surendra as he shares more about what was discussed.

https://vegetableswest.com/2019/03/19/ucce-biologicals-conference-introduces-new-crop-protection-tools-for-growers

 

Landowners aim to fight fire with fire

(Benito Link) Blaire Strohn, March 19, 2019

The 2018 wildfire season in California was devastating, which left local landowners to consider how future blazes can be prevented. Their solution: more fire.

On March 14, The San Benito Working Landscapes Group and the UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) hosted a meeting to discuss prescribed burning on San Benito County rangelands.

…UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor Devii Rao said the meeting also looked at Cal Fire funding and prescribed burn associations. She mentioned that last year former Gov. Jerry Brown signed two pieces of legislation related to prescribed burning:

Senate Bill 901 provides Cal Fire $1 billion for forest health, fuel load, and prescribed burns over five years, including $35 million a year for prescribed fire and other reduction projects.

Senate Bill 1260 requires Cal Fire to collaborate with public and private landowners on prescribed burns. They must also create a program for pre-certification for a “burn boss,” a private contractor that has experience in prescribed burning.

…In June, Rao will co-host a meeting with Lenya Quinn-Davidson and Jeff Stackhouse from UCCE Humboldt County. The meeting is expected to focus on how to develop a prescribed burn association, in addition to a small burn demonstration on a local private ranch.

https://benitolink.com/news/landowners-aim-fight-fire-fire

 

A More Humane Livestock Industry, Brought to You By Crispr

(Wired) Gregory Barber, March 19

Hopes were running high for cow 401, and cow 401 serenely bore the weight of expectations. She entered the cattle chute obligingly, and as the vet searched her uterus, making full use of the plastic glove that covered his arm up to his shoulder, she uttered nary a moo. A week ago, Cow 401 and four other members of her experimental herd at UC Davis were in the early stages of pregnancy. But now, following a string of disappointing checkups, it was all down to her. Alison Van Eenennaam, the animal geneticist in charge of the proceedings, kept watch from off to one side, galoshes firmly planted in the damp manure, eyes fixed on a portable ultrasound monitor. After a few moments, the vet delivered his fifth and final diagnosis. “She's not pregnant,” he said. Van Eenennaam looked up. “Ah, shit,” she muttered.

https://www.wired.com/story/crispr-gene-editing-humane-livestock

 

Climate change is hurting migrating waterbirds across the West. It could get worse

(Sacramento Bee) Andrew Sheeler, March 18

…Some birds, like the black-necked stilt and the sandhill crane, which breed early in the season, have thrived in the warming climate, said Mohammad Safeeq, a hydrologist with the Sierra Nevada Research Institute and an adjunct professor at UC Merced.

But others suffer. That includes the killdeer, the Wilson's snipe, the black tern, and the western and Clark's grebe.

“We have looked at 14 species and among eight open-water and shoreline foraging species that have undergone significant population declines, five were negatively associated with temperature increases,” Safeeq said in an email interview.

https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/environment/article227983859.html

 

Group seeks healthy, resilient forests and communities

(Plumas News) March 18

…A public workshop was held at the Quincy Library on Jan. 15th. Presenter Jeff Stackhouse, the Livestock and Natural Resources advisor for the U.C. Cooperative Extension in Humboldt, presents case studies from the prescribed burn association.

http://www.plumasnews.com/group-seeks-healthy-resilient-forests-and-communities

 

US researchers moving abroad to avoid FDA's CRISPR-edited animal regulations

(Genetic Literacy Project) Cameron English, Alison Van Eenennaam, March 14

One day soon, farmers may be able to raise food animals immune to deadly diseases and spare them painful but necessary procedures like horn removal. These innovations, made possible by CRISPR and other gene-editing techniques, could cut the cost of food production, reduce antibiotic use in agriculture and dramatically improve animal welfare. But federal regulation may very well stifle these developments in the US.

In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a plan to regulate gene-edited animals as veterinary drugs under the 1938 Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, because their DNA is “intentionally altered.” The proposal has drawn harsh criticism from animal scientists, some of whom are packing up their labs and leaving the US to avoid the FDA's rules. Food animals, these experts say, should be regulated based on the risk they pose to human health, not the breeding method that produced them.

https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2019/03/14/us-researchers-moving-abroad-to-avoid-fdas-crispr-edited-animal-regulations

 

Corky Anderson's energy, innovation helped save California's pistachio industry

(Bakersfield Californian) Steven E. Mayer, March 13

"Corky was an important player in the early pistachio industry," said  a Kern County farm adviser with the UC Cooperative Extension who specializes in citrus and pistachios.

"And he was a great cooperator," Kallsen said. "He allowed lots of test trials on his properties."

… In 1980, Anderson and Puryear's first patented rootstock changed the industry, said Kevin Blackwell, general manager of Pioneer Nursery, the wholesale business founded by the two entrepreneurs.

 "In our heyday, we were selling a million trees a year," said Blackwell, who said he has known Anderson for 47 years.

No one does it alone, Kallsen noted. Anderson built and refined his patented rootstock based on earlier research by the University of California. 

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/corky-anderson-s-energy-innovation-helped-save-california-s-pistachio/article_51dff8d4-46a7-11e9-b960-b3bf5d47742f.html

 

Farmers protect crops in rain's aftermath

(Ag Alert) Ching Lee, March 13

Franz Niederholzer, University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Colusa, Sutter and Yuba counties, said though cold weather does reduce the risk of most fungal diseases, other problems such as bacterial blast and jacket rot—also a fungal disease—are more prevalent during cool weather.

Cooler weather, however, does help to extend the bloom, he said. That allows farmers more time to apply fungicide, which is recommended at the beginning of bloom and again at full bloom, he said.

Brent Holtz, UCCE farm advisor in San Joaquin County, said he hasn't seen too many problems with fungal diseases at this point, because of how cool it's been, but there have been more incidents of bacterial blast, which can infect trees under stress. In orchards with high nematode populations, the bacteria can enter wounds on the surface of the plants created by frost, he noted.

"It blights the blossoms, and if the blossom is dead, they don't produce fruit," Holtz said.

 http://agalert.com/story/?id=12801

 

Michael learns about 4-H in Fresno County

(KMPH) Stephen Hawkins, March 13, 2019

The 4-H Youth Development Program is preparing for events all over the Central Valley and you are invited.

Michael Ikahihifo spent the morning at Dry Creek Park in Clovis to see what the local 4-H has planned.

https://kmph.com/great-day/michael-in-the-mix/michael-learns-about-4-h-in-fresno-county

 

The City of Cypress calls for its residents to be “Coyote Aware”

(OC Breeze) March 13

The Cypress City Council recently adopted a coyote management plan to address community concerns about the presence of coyotes in Cypress. While coyotes are generally reclusive animals who avoid human contact, it is important to be aware of their presence and take appropriate action to ensure the safety of your property and pets.

…Residents are encouraged to reportcoyote activity on Coyote Cacher:

ucanr.edu/sites/CoyoteCacher/

Coyote Cacher allows the City to monitor all reported encounters.
Residents can also use Coyote Cacher to view a map of reported
encounters and sign up to receive email alerts.

http://www.oc-breeze.com/2019/03/13/136176_the-city-of-cypress-calls-for-its-residents-to-be-coyote-aware

 

California's super bloom attracts swarms of migrating butterflies

(CNN) David Williams, March 13

"I saw more butterflies in the last 10 minutes than I've seen my entire life," Jason Suppes of UC South Coast REC wrote on Twitter.

This year's wildflower super bloom is not only filling California deserts with eye-popping displays of color -- it's also providing a feast for swarms of painted lady butterflies making their way north from Mexico.

"This is the biggest outbreak since 2005," said Art Shapiro, a professor at the University of California, Davis, who's been studying the migration of butterflies in the state since 1972.

…"I saw more butterflies in the last 10 minutes than I've seen my entire life," Jason Suppes wrote Tuesday on Twitter. Suppes is an education specialist at an agricultural research facility in Irvine.

http://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/california-butterflies-trnd/index.html

 

Grape growers continue push to mechanize

(Western Farm Press) Lee Allen, March 13

…In Fresno, growers affiliated with the San Joaquin Valley Winegrowers Association met to discuss the latest UC research on incidents of disease and machine injury to trunks and rootstock.

… “Growers are having a hard time finding workers to maintain their vineyards and increasing labor costs are challenging grape-farming's economic sustainability,” says UC Cooperative Extension viticulture advisor George Zhuang.  “We're studying the use of machines to reduce the number of people needed to perform tasks like pruning.

“Because canopy architecture and yield characteristics involving mechanically-pruned vines are much different from those that are hand-pruned, water and fertilizer requirements for the mechanically pruned vines can be quite different. Performance of different rootstocks in mechanical pruning systems is critical for both yield and fruit quality of grape production in the San Joaquin Valley.”

…Kaan Kurtural, UC Cooperative Extension viticulture specialist in the UC Davis Viticulture and Enology Department, whose research involves improving vineyard production efficiency through canopy and crop load management via mechanization, says the case for switching out hand labor with machines gets stronger with growers using such mechanization for pruning, suckering, and removing shoots and leaves.

“Mechanical pruning can produce more stable year-to-year fruit yields of better quality than traditional and more costly hand pruning spurs or canes.” His comments were based on a Kern County two-year research trial looking for ways for growers to reduce both cost and water use.

https://www.farmprogress.com/grapes/grape-growers-continue-push-mechanize

 

As Wildfires Devour Communities, Toxic Threats Emerge

(Reuters) Sharon Bernstein, March 13

At U.C. Davis, where researchers are studying eggs from backyard chickens that may have breathed smoke and pecked at ash in areas affected by wildfires, the work is complicated.

"In an urban fire you're dealing with contaminants that don't go away – arsenic, heavy metals, copper, lead, transformer fluid, brake fluid, fire retardant," said veterinarian Maurice Pitesky, who is leading the study.
https://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2019-03-13/as-wildfires-devour-communities-toxic-threats-emerge

 

DR. GLENDA HUMISTON: Managing our Lands to Manage our Water

Maven's Notebook, March 13, 2019

Dr. Glenda Humiston is Vice President of Agriculture & Natural Resources for the University of California. At the 2019 California Irrigation Institute conference, Dr. Humiston was the opening keynote speaker, and in her speech, she talked about work being done to address drought vulnerability, the importance of managing watersheds, the goals of the California Economic Summit, and the promising future of biomass.

She began by saying that we have known for a long time that water insecurity is a huge issue, and not just due to climate change or droughts; it's also policy, regulations, allocations and technology – there are a lot of issues and managing the effects of it are very challenging.

 https://mavensnotebook.com/2019/03/13/dr-glenda-humiston-managing-our-lands-to-manage-our-water/

 

Hearing planned to examine the future of development in California's most fire prone regions

(Lake County News) March 13

…The hearing, led by Senators Henry Stern and Mike McGuire, chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee and the Senate Governance and Finance Committee, respectively, titled “Living Resiliently in the New Abnormal: The Future of Development in California's Most Fire Prone Regions” will be held Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. at the State Capitol in Room 4203. 

…Testifying at the hearing are:
· Mark Ghilarducci, director, California Office of Emergency Services;
· Bob Fenton, regional administrator, FEMA Region 9;
· Dr. Max Moritz, statewide wildfire specialist, University of California Cooperative Extension;
· Jeff Lambert, director of planning, city of Oxnard, past president, American Planning Association, California Chapter;
· Chief Kate Dargan, California State Fire Marshal (retired), Cal Fire;
· Chief Ken Pimlott, director (retired), Cal Fire;
· Scott Lotter, former mayor, city of Paradise;
· Tim Snellings, planning director, Butte County;
· Chief Michael McLaughlin, Cosumnes Community Services District Fire Department;
· Ty Bailey, California Professional Firefighters, president, Sacramento Area Firefighters, Local 522, fire captain, Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District.

https://goldrushcam.com/sierrasuntimes/index.php/news/local-news/17849-hearing-held-today-wednesday-will-examine-the-future-of-development-in-california-s-most-fire-prone-regions

UC fire scientists provide invaluable expertise to media during fire tragedies

The recent outbreak in California of two devastating fires - the Woolsey Fire in Ventura and Los Angeles counties and the Camp Fire in Butte County - are being covered extensively by the news media. UC Agriculture and Natural Resources fire scientists provide a valuable service by making themselves available to share their expertise during these tragedies. Below are a sampling of recent fire stories with comments from UC ANR sources.

Why Wildfires Are Burning So Hot And Moving So Fast

(NPR) Kirk Siegler 

…One recent study predicted several million homes built in the West are at immediate risk. Susie Kocher is a forester with the University of California's Cooperative Extension service here in the Sierra.

“We haven't caught up, and to retrofit our existing housing stock to fend off embers is a long-term, expensive proposition.”

These wind-driven fires often carry air and embers that land on a roof or get sucked into a vent long after the main wall of flames has passed through. In fact, that's when most homes actually burn in wildfires.

“Even areas like Paradise that have been inhabited for 140 years as more vulnerable than they used to be. And that's not because there's new development but because there's a new climate around the old community.”

And that brings us to one of the biggest factors: climate change. Droughts are longer and more severe. The snow is melting quicker. The fire seasons are longer if not year-round.  

http://www.capradio.org/news/npr/story?storyid=668163465

 

As wildfires grow deadlier, officials search for solutions

(Associated Press) Matthew Brown and Ellen Knickmeyer, Nov. 14

…"There are ... so many ways that can go wrong, in the warning, the modes of getting the message out, the confusion ... the traffic jams," said Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist with the University of California Cooperative Extension program.

As deadly urban wildfires become more common, officials should also consider establishing "local retreat zones, local safety zones" in communities where residents can ride out the deadly firestorms if escape seems impossible, Moritz said.

… In the mid-20th century, California ranchers burned hundreds of thousands of acres annually to manage their lands, said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council.

That was phased out in the 1980s after California's fire management agency stepped in to take over the burns, and by the last decade, the amount of acreage being treated had dropped to less than 10,000 acres annually, Quinn-Davidson said.

Former agricultural land that rings many towns in the state became overgrown, even as housing developments pushed deeper into those rural areas. That was the situation in the Northern California town of Redding leading up to a fire that began in July and destroyed more than 1,000 homes. It was blamed for eight deaths.

"You get these growing cities pushing out - housing developments going right up into brush and wooded areas. One ignition on a bad day, and all that is threatened," Quinn-Davidson said. "These fires are tragic, and they're telling us this is urgent. We can't sit on our hands."

http://www.kulr8.com/story/39483128/fatal-california-fires-spur-search-for-solutions

 

Trump and Brown stir up rhetoric on wildfires but overlook pressing problems

(LA Times) Bettina Boxall, Nov. 14

… Similarly, UC Berkeley fire scientist Scott Stephens said that although climate change is playing a role in wildfire growth, he worries that a focus on global warming can leave the public thinking that “there's really nothing to be done.”

In fact, he said, “Communities could still be better prepared.”

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-fire-policy-trump-brown-20181114-story.html

 

How Does California's Wildlife Cope With Massive Wildfires?

(Atlas Obscura) Anna Kusmer, Nov. 13

While many animals are indeed displaced by wildfires, it's important to note that fire is not wholly bad for landscapes in an ecological sense. In fact, many California ecosystems rely on fire to thrive. “Fire in the human sense can often be catastrophic, but it's not necessarily the same for animals,” says Greg Giusti, a retired University of California researcher and an expert on the relationship between wildfires and wildlife. He says California wildlife have evolved to respond to fires, and can even sometimes benefit from the disruption. “It's harsh out there, but you know these animals have evolved to survive in that hostile environment.”

There are a variety to survival tactics that California wildlife will use, says Giusti. For example, birds are easily able to fly away and are usually not impacted as long as fires don't occur during the spring when they are nesting and raising their offspring.

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/how-does-californias-wildlife-cope-with-massive-wildfires

 

The Manmade Causes Of California's Endless Fire Season

(OnPoint) Meghna Chakrabarti, Nov 13

California's endless fire season. Whether it's climate change, development or forest management, we'll look at the causes — all manmade.

Guests:

Scott McLean, deputy chief, chief of information for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Ryan Lillis, reporter for the Sacramento Bee who has covered most of Northern California's fires for last 12 years. (@Ryan_Lillis)

J. Keith Gilless, professor of forest economics at University of California, Berkeley and chair of the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection on Cal Fire's policy board.

Glen MacDonald, professor of geography at University of California, Los Angeles who has spent decades studying climate and the effects of wildfires. He and his family were among the hundreds of thousands of people who evacuated their homes because of the Woolsey Fire. (@GlenMMacDonald1)

http://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2018/11/13/californias-endless-fire-season-climate-change

California Must Better Prepare For The Inevitability Of Future Fires (reprint of The Conversation originally published in August)

(Pacific Standard) Max Moritz, Naomi Tague & Sarah Anderson, Nov 13

Wildfire has been an integral part of California ecosystems for centuries. Now, however, nearly a third of homes in California are in wildland urban interface areas where houses intermingling with wildlands and fire is a natural phenomenon. Just as Californians must live with earthquake risk, they must live with wildfires.

https://psmag.com/environment/california-must-better-prepare-for-future-fires

 

Forest management debate

(KTVU) Heather Holmes, Nov. 12

In a live interview, Bill Stewart, UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Berkeley, said,

“It was actually on the private land that we saw better performance in terms of being able to put out the fire quicker and a lot less smoke being produced. There is a package of vegetation management and fire suppression on private lands that have proved to be more effective than what's being used on federal land.

“What we found is about half the difference comes from the private land managers do more aggressive timber harvesting and some of that profit they spend to reduce the shrubs and fuels that are on the ground because they have that cashflow. They're protecting their long-term assets. The other half is CALFIRE is much more aggressive when it comes to fire suppression in forests or shrublands.

http://www.ktvu.com/news/372545595-video

 

Trump's Misleading Claims About California's Fire ‘Mismanagement'

(New York Times) Kendra Pierre-Louis, Nov. 12

…Mr. Trump is suggesting that forest management played a role, but California's current wildfires aren't forest fires.

“These fires aren't even in forests,” said Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

…“We have vulnerable housing stock already out there on the landscape. These are structures that were often built to building codes from earlier decades and they're not as fire resistant as they could be,” Dr. Moritz said. “This issue of where and how we built our homes has left us very exposed to home losses and fatalities like these.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/12/us/politics/fact-check-trump-california-fire-tweet.html

 

California's year-round wildfire threat: Why aren't communities doing more?

(SF Chronicle) Peter Fimrite and Kurtis Alexander Nov. 10,

…“To have a president come out and say it's all because of forest management is ridiculous. It completely ignores the dynamic of what's going on around us.” said LeRoy Westerling, a climate and fire scientist at UC Merced, who blamed the increasing number of fires on rising temperatures and more variable precipitation, leading to longer spells of dry weather.

…“It's like a tragic replay of last year, with strong winds in both Northern California and Southern California blowing fire,” said Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist at the Bren School at UC Santa Barbara, recalling the 2017 Wine Country fires and the Thomas Fire, which burned through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in December.

…“We had a lot of discussion after the fires last year about the liability issue with utilities, but it's interesting to see what didn't happen,” Moritz said. “Nobody has talked about mapping neighborhoods and homes in fire-prone areas like they do in flood plain hazard zones, engineering resilience into communities, or building a little smarter.”

…Everybody agrees the situation is dire. Fire officials blame shorter winters, hotter temperatures and drier vegetation, but very little is being done to improve the situation, said Scott Stevens, a professor of fire science at UC Berkeley.

“There is an under-appreciation of fire risk in a lot of communities,” Stevens said. “It feels like we can do better at allowing local communities to access information, reduce their vulnerability and understand their vulnerability a little bit more.”

Stevens urged the creation of cooperative programs at his and other universities that would allow local government officials to collaborate with fire experts on safety planning.

https://www.sfchronicle.com/california-wildfires/article/California-s-year-round-wildfire-threat-Why-13379734.php

 

California's most destructive wildfire should not have come as a surprise

(LA Times) Bettina Boxall and Paige St. John

…“We have these Santa Ana-like events happening in places that are appearing to catch people by surprise,” said Max Moritz, a cooperative extension wildfire specialist at UC Santa Barbara's Bren School. “But they shouldn't be catching people by surprise.”

“These are areas that have burned before,” he said. “And if we were to go back and do the wind mapping, we would find that at some intervals, these areas are prone to these north and northeasterly Santa Ana-like events.”

… “We have all kinds of tools to help us do this smarter, to build in a more sustainable way and to co-exist with fire,” he said. “But everybody throws up their hands and says, ‘Oh, all land-use planning is local. You can't tell people that they can't build there.' And the conversation stops right there.”

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-camp-fire-science-20181110-story.html

Traffic is backed up on Pacific Coast Highway as residents evacuate Malibu as a smoke plume from the Woolsey Fire rises in the background. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Posted on Thursday, November 15, 2018 at 1:33 PM
Focus Area Tags: Environment

Tanoak is an 'artisanal' product with ecological value

In June, Mendocino County voters approved Measure V, which limits the practice of poisoning unwanted hardwood trees like tanoaks. The hardwood tree treatment has been used by forest land managers to make way for more valuable conifers. UC Cooperative Extension advisor Greg Giusti said tanoaks are "a difficult beast to manage," reported Sarah Reith in Willits News.

The time when tanoaks were a profitable resource ended with the advent of automobiles, reducing the need to tan leather for horse tack. An effort to harvest and use tanoaks in the late 1990s "died on the vine," Giusti said, because of market domination by hardwoods from the East.

While tanoak doesn't have commercial appeal, it can be a fine material for boutique or artisanal woodworking.

As an ecologist, Giusti noted that “tanoak plays an important role in forests,” providing habitat and high-nutrient acorns for wildlife.

"The thought of losing tanoak completely is not a positive thing,” he said

Land managers may no longer indiscriminately kill hardwoods in Mendocino forests. (Photo: Joseph O'Brien, USDA Forest Service)
Posted on Wednesday, August 3, 2016 at 11:17 AM
Tags: Greg Giusti (8), tanoak (1)

Give oaks water once a month

Even though California's majestic oak trees are generally considered drought tolerant, the last four years of well-below-average rainfall are taking a toll, reported the Sierra Sun Times.

"In some parts of the state, oaks are being deprived of water for as long as nine months, creating extreme water stress," said Greg Giusti, a forest and wildlands advisor for UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. Giusti is headquartered in the UC ANR Cooperative Extension office in Mendocino County. 

Giusti and Kris Randal, the UC Master Gardener coordinator for Mariposa County, suggest that California residents with oaks on their property give the trees a good soaking once a month during the summer.

The water should be applied around the drip line - the area below the outstretched branches - but not near the trunk. A permeable soaker hose is an ideal tool for slow application over the wide area. Allow the water to run until it has soaked down to a depth of 12 to 18 inches, which can be detected with a long probe such as a screwdriver. "If it comes up with signs of moisture at the tip, you're good," the article says.

Randal said it is important to let the soil dry out completely between waterings, because oaks are susceptible to root fungus that can grow in warm, damp soil.

Even if water is unavailable and the leaves begin to turn brown or fall, the experts suggest waiting for spring before considering removing the tree.

"If you tree leafs out, it's still alive," Randall said. "And in this drought, give it extra time to leaf out."

A large blue oak in Mariposa County.

 

Posted on Friday, August 21, 2015 at 12:58 PM
Tags: drought (122), Greg Giusti (8), Kris Randal (1), oaks (5)

Rocky Fire is raging through bone dry chaparral shrublands

Greg Giusti is a UC ANR forest and wildland ecology expert.
Northern California's Rocky Fire is roaring through shrublands that have no previous recorded history of wildfires, reported Kirk Siegler on All Things Considered. It has already burned 65,000 acres and is 12 percent contained, according to CalFire's Incident Report.

The area has been protected from fire for decades, primed for the type of catastrophic blaze California officials have been predicting.

Siegler spoke to UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension wildland and forestry advisor Greg Giusti

"We've got miles and miles of contiguous chaparral vegetation and literally there are no breaks in the vegetation," Giusti said. "It's extremely steep and, in many cases, it's a roadless area."

Four years of drought has left the vegetation bone dry.

'When these fires get to an intensity we've seen, because of the fuel loading, because of fire suppression for the last 50 or 60 years, it allows the plant communities to get so dense, so thick and so expansive that, once a fire starts, it's beyond the capabilities of human control," Guisti said.

 

Posted on Tuesday, August 4, 2015 at 4:52 PM
Tags: Greg Giusti (8), wildfire (88)

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