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Posts Tagged: Susie Kocher

Can harvesting Christmas trees help the forest?

California forests are overstocked with conifers, and California residents want to decorate their homes during the holiday season with Christmas trees. The smart harvest of Christmas trees can kill two birds with one stone, according to UC Cooperative Extension forestry advisor Susie Kocher. Kocher spoke to Capital Public Radio reporter Ezra David Romero about the prospect of thinning the forest by taking home trees.

Smart harvest of Christmas trees can help thin the forest. (Photo: USDA)

"It's a great win-win solution," Kocher said. "You get the public out in the forest, you do good work reducing the density of trees."

Kocher, who lives in Lake Tahoe, holds a family Christmas tree harvest party every year. With $10 permits from the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, they trek through snow to select their trees. This year the management unit sold 2,000 permits. Kocher believes the program could be ramped up to further benefit forests.

“By removing some of the smaller trees, we are doing some of the work,” Kocher said. If left in place, the small trees grow larger, and more human resources, equipment and funds are needed to remove them. Moreover, the income from permit sales can be used for other forest-thinning projects.

However, some foresters are skeptical that harvesting Christmas trees is a realistic solution to management of California forests.

“It's great to have the masses come up during the holiday season full of mirth and cheer,” said Joseph Flannery with the Tahoe National Forest. “But I don't think there's the infrastructure in place to really make a dent in the hazardous fuels reduction needed.”

This story was also covered for KTVU Fox Channel 2 in the Bay Area by Lisa Fernandez. 

“You need a 4-wheel drive, and yes, you trudge through snow,” Kocher said. “It's not for everyone. But for those who want that adventure, it's super fun. I do it because I don't think there's a substitute for a real tree in the house. And we always turn it into a family party.”

Besides, she said, “I feel good about removing excess small trees.”

Posted on Thursday, December 6, 2018 at 3:05 PM
Focus Area Tags: Environment

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

California's new insurance commissioner to face issue of increasing wildfire

A key issue in the race for California insurance commissioner between former commissioner Steve Poinzer and democratic senator Richard Lara is widlfire, reported Ezra David Romero on Capital Public Radio.

The new commissioner will have to deal with a complicated insurance system and a warming climate that's increasing the number, size and impact of California wildfires, said Susie Kocher, UC Cooperative Extension forestry and natural resources advisor. 

For many Californians, the possibility of losing their insurance due to wildfire risk is a real threat.

"I recently talked to a homeowner who had his insurance canceled about three months before his house was destroyed by a wildfire,” Kocher said.

The possibility of losing insurance due to wildfire risk is a real threat, said UCCE advisor Susie Kocher.

Lara says people or companies that start fires need to be held liable and not given a free pass, and that homeowners need better protection. He says in the past some insurance companies have dropped homeowners because of the risk from wildfires.

"Unfortunately, this is our new normal,” Lara said of recent wildfires in the state. “We're going to see fires with much more veracity.”

Poinzer, a tech industry entrepreneur and career-long Republican, is on the ballot as an independent. 

“There's no room in this job for a partisan politician,” Poizner told the Los Angeles Times.

Posted on Monday, November 5, 2018 at 8:22 AM
Tags: Susie Kocher (7), wildfire (5)
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

August 2018 News Clips 8/1-8/15

UC: Tariffs could cost fruit, nut industries over $3 billion

(Farm Press) Aug. 15

A new report released by the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources' Agricultural Issues Center estimates the higher tariffs could cost major U.S. fruit and nut industries $2.64 billion per year in exports to countries imposing the higher tariffs, and as much as $3.34 billion by reducing prices in alternative markets.

https://www.westernfarmpress.com/tree-nuts/uc-tariffs-could-cost-fruit-nut-industries-over-3-billion

Evacuation priorities: Save people first, then livestock

(Ag Alert) Kathy Coatney, Aug. 15

"It's generally too difficult to get trucks out on such a short notice," said Glenn Nader, University of California Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor emeritus for Butte, Sutter and Yuba counties.

… Carissa Koopmann Rivers, UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor for Siskiyou County, said the Klamathon fire, first reported in early July, devastated the town of Hornbrook, which is situated in a cattle-producing area.

…Ricky Satomi, UCCE forestry advisor for Shasta, Trinity and Siskiyou counties, said if there's a wildfire and a person has advanced notice, there are several things that can be done to save buildings before evacuating.

http://agalert.com/story/?id=12106

Tariffs Could Cost California Growers Billions

(Growing Produce) Christina Herrick, Aug. 15

new study from the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources' Agricultural Issues Center finds that tariffs on 10 fruit and tree nut exports alone are estimated to cost the U.S. $3.4 billion annually.

https://www.growingproduce.com/nuts/tariffs-cost-california-growers-billions/

Interior Secretary: Environmental policies, poor forest management to blame for wildfires

(Circa) Leandra Bernstein, Aug. 14

…"Together, poor land management, poor land use planning and the onset of climate change, we have created the perfect environment for the perfect firestorm in California. It's completely expected and it's going to get worse," explained Dr. Kate Wilkin, a fire scientist at the University of California Cooperative Extension.

https://www.circa.com/story/2018/08/14/nation/interior-secretary-environmental-policies-poor-forest-management-to-blame-for-wildfires

Looming Chlorpyrifos Ban Has ‘Natural' Pesticide Makers Buzzing

(Bloomberg) Tiffany Stecker, Aug. 14

...Alternatives may be available, but they lack the punch of chlorpyrifos, which kills multiple pests at once, Beth Grafton-Cardwell, a scientist working with citrus farmers as part of the University of California Cooperative Extension, told Bloomberg Environment.

https://www.bna.com/looming-chlorpyrifos-ban-n73014481691/

Fierce and Unpredictable: How Wildfires Became Infernos

(New York Times) Jim Robbins, Aug. 13

…Triple-digit temperatures “preheat the fuels, and it makes them much more receptive to igniting,” said Scott L. Stephens, a fire ecologist at the University of California, Berkeley.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/13/science/wildfires-physics.html

In California's new wildfire reality, facing the need for periodic fires to clear fuel

(SF Chronicle) Kurtis Alexander, Aug. 13

While misguided forest- management policies are just one reason that fire has become more devastating, a warming climate and more development in California's wildlands also contribute, making planned burning vital, said wildfire specialist Max Moritz with UC's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“We need to become more comfortable with fire as a tool,” he said. “Prescribed fire could do a lot of good, restoring these forests to healthy conditions and reducing the fire hazard.”

https://www.sfchronicle.com/california-wildfires/article/California-s-new-wildfire-reality-2-years-of-13153404.php

8/13/18 Trade Tensions

(NewsTalk 780 KOH) Jon Sanchez Show, Aug. 13

Daniel Sumner, director of the UC Agriculture Issues Center, discussed the impact of trade tariffs on agriculture and U.S. economy with Jon Sanchez

https://www.spreaker.com/user/10565136/sanchez0813

UCCE Manure Nitrogen Study Update in Dairy Feed Crops

(California Dairy Magazine) Aug. 10

It takes time for the nitrogen found in dairy manure water to become available to feed crops out in the field, and as dairy producers don't want to under or over fertilize their feed crops, the UC Cooperative Extension is conducting a research trial to find out more regarding how manure water interacts in the soil with plant root systems. Watch this brief interview UC Agronomy Advisor Nicholas Clark as he summarizes a recent presentation he shared at the Golden State Dairy Management Conference.

http://www.californiadairymagazine.com/2018/08/10/ucce-manure-nitrogen-study-update-in-dairy-feed-crops

Trees vital as heat waves ravage Southland, experts and L.A. officials say

 (Hub LA) Hugo Guzman, Aug. 10

…Researchers with the University of California Cooperative Extension are helping do just that. In partnership with the United States Forest Service, researchers there have launched a 20-year study to identify trees that can withstand higher temperatures and lower rainfall. Native trees such as the Catalina Cherry and Ironwood trees, along with imports like Ghost Gum and Acacia trees, could form the future of L.A.'s canopy.

http://www.hub-la.com/news/trees-heat-waves-ravage-southland-officials/

Elkus Ranch brings kids to nature

(Half Moon Bay Review) Max Paik, Aug. 8

“I think it's important that the children get to see what it takes to care for farm animals … from the cute to the somewhat smelly,” said Igor Lacan, environmental horticulture adviser with the University of California Cooperative Extension, which runs the ranch.

https://www.hmbreview.com/news/elkus-ranch-brings-kids-to-nature/article_623c066a-9b25-11e8-b7bd-5b37951a239e.html

What These Wildfires Say About Climate Change

(OnPoint NPR) Eric Westervelt, Aug. 8

Guests

  • Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director of Cal Fire, the state's fire agency.
  • Ryan Lillis, reporter for the Sacramento Bee. He has covered most of Northern California's fires for the last 12 years. (@Ryan_Lillis)
  • Lenya Quinn-Davidson, area fire adviser with the University of California's Cooperative Extension, which works with counties and communities in the state on managing the threat of wildfires. Northern California coordinator of the California Fire Science Consortium. (@lenyaqd)

Michael Mann, professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at

Pennsylvania State University. Co-author of "The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy." (@MichaelEMann)

http://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2018/08/08/mendocino-complex-wildfires-california-climate-change

Drought may be increasing camel cricket numbers

(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, Aug. 8

A few years ago, University of California viticulture and pest management advisors noticed unusual leaf symptoms in certain Napa County hillside vineyards that were right next to oak woodlands.

As described by the UC Cooperative Extension's Monica Cooper and Lucia Varela, the feeding activity they noted in April 2015 resulted in a “lace-like” appearance to damaged leaves. Then last year, in March, they observed feeding damage to expanding buds.

… Where vineyards have come into play is when they were situated on hillsides next to oak woodlands and mixed species of white alders, madrone, California bay, and Douglas fir, according to Varela, a north coast integrated pest management advisor, and Rhonda Smith, a UCCE viticulture advisor.

https://www.westernfarmpress.com/grapes/drought-may-be-increasing-camel-cricket-numbers

Yes, humans have made wildfires like the Carr fire worse. Here's how.

(Washington Post) Sarah Kaplan, Aug. 8

…Many forests in the western United States are “fire adapted” said Scott Stephens, a fire ecologist at the University of California at Berkeley. Natural wildfires every 5, 10 or 20 years help clear debris from the forest floor and make room for stronger, healthier trees.

…Wildfires are as unstoppable as hurricanes, Stephens said — and much like hurricanes, increasingly inevitable as the climate changes. “But you could do a lot more when you're getting ready for fire to inevitably occur,” he said. By building with fire-safe materials, establishing buffer zones between ecosystems and communities, and better caring for forests before fire season starts, some of the destructiveness of fires could be mitigated, Stephens said.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/national/amp-stories/humans-have-made-wildfires-worse-heres-how/

The staggering scale of California's wildfires

(New York Times) Lisa Friedman, Jose A. Del Real, Aug. 8

…Lisa: Mr. Trump in his tweet referred to the longstanding dispute between California farmers and environmentalists over the allocation of the state's precious water resources. Both sides want more and Mr. Trump has embraced the arguments of the agriculture community.

But William Stewart, a forestry specialist at the University of California, Berkeley said leaving less water for fish would have no impact on amount available for fighting fires. That water comes from local streams and rivers, where water-dropping helicopters drop their buckets. Neither he nor other scientists could point to a scenario in which California's environmental laws have prevented or curbed the use of water to fight wildfires.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/08/us/california-today-fires-and-climate.html

California giving out $170 million in cap-and-trade revenue to help prevent wildfires

(San Francisco Chronicle) Kimberly Veklerov, Aug. 8

…Groups in six Bay Area counties will get a combined $7.4 million. The biggest portion of that, $3.6 million, will go to UC Berkeley. The Federal Emergency Management Agency in 2016 withdrew what would have been an award of roughly the same amount to thin and remove eucalyptus trees in the East Bay hills after a lawsuit by conservation activists.

…Keith Gilless, chairman of Cal Fire, said the state needs to do much more vegetation management — activities like reducing hazardous plant fuels — to address wildfire risk.

“One of the things we need in California moving forward is striking a better balance between carbon sequestration in forests and the risk associated with that densely stocked carbon sequestration,” said Gilless, also a UC Berkeley professor of forest economics. “We need to figure out ways to do vegetation management that are socially acceptable with the smallest public subsidy possible.”

https://www.sfchronicle.com/california-wildfires/article/California-doles-out-170-million-in-13139050.php

These California counties have the highest concentration of homes vulnerable to wildfire

(Sac Bee) Michael Finch II, Aug. 7

In the case of the northern counties, the risk will be higher because homes there often dispersed at the edge of a wildland area, said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a Eureka-based fire advisor for the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“Those areas that you mentioned are areas that have a lot of homes mixed into the wildland-urban interface — areas where there are a lot of homes that are edgy and in the forest and have a lot of fuel.”

https://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/fires/article216076320.html#storylink=cpy

Can More Logging Help Prevent California Wildfires?

(KQED) Forum, Aug. 7

Cal Fire officials announced yesterday that the Mendocino Complex fire grew to over 283,000 acres, making it the largest in state history. As wildfires across the state rage on, Governor Brown and some lawmakers are calling for increased forest thinning to lessen the threat posed by fires. Those in favor of logging say that removing trees and vegetation can help reduce a fire's intensity and make forests more resilient. Opponents say thinning does nothing to protect communities from fires and imperils species that depend on dense forests. We'll take up the debate.

Guests:

Chad Hanson, director, John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute ; co-author, "Nature's Phoenix: The Ecological Importance of Mixed-Severity Fires"

Molly Peterson, reporter on assignment for KQED News

Scott Stephens, professor of fire science at the College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

Rich Gordon, president and CEO, California Forestry Association, former assemblymember representing California's 21st district

Jim Wood, assemblymember for district 2, Sonoma County, a member of the Senate and Assembly conference committee on wildfire preparedness and response

https://www.kqed.org/forum/2010101866607/can-more-logging-help-prevent-california-wildfires

Trump wants to clear more trees to halt fires. The feds need to spend more, experts say.

(Sac Bee) Emily Cadei and Kate Irby, Aug. 7

“I think for a number of years the feds were more ahead of this dilemma, at least in discussions,” said Scott Stephens, a professor of fire science at the University of California, Berkeley. But “I have to say right now, I think the state is moving ahead. It's certainly being more innovative, it's doing more policy work.”

https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article216160995.html

Trump says California's water policies are making the wildfires worse. Is he right?

(Sac Bee) Dale Kasler, Aug. 6

William Stewart, a forestry management expert at UC Cooperative Extension, agreed. “The entity that's doing the worst job are the people working for him,” Stewart said, referring to Trump.

Stewart said the Carr Fire, which killed seven people and forced mass evacuations in and around Redding, started in shrub and grasslands west of the city, not in the forests. Only lately, after the threat to Redding abated, has the fire moved north onto Forest Service land and forested property owned by Sierra Pacific Industries, he said.

https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article216181625.html

California Groundwater Law Means Big Changes Above Ground, Too

(Water Deeply) Matt Weiser, Aug. 6

The best groundwater recharge areas have certain soil types that are good at absorbing water. These areas have already been mapped by, among others, the California Soil Resource Lab at the University of California, Davis. [Tobi o'Geen's lab]

https://www.newsdeeply.com/water/articles/2018/08/06/california-groundwater-law-means-big-changes-above-ground-too

Cal Fire responds to President Trump's tweet about state wildfires

(ABC7) Rob McMillan, Aug. 6

Cal Fire and a researcher from UC Riverside responded to Donald Trump's tweet related to the state's wildfires on Monday.

"Thinning would be a good idea, but the question is how you thin properly," UC Riverside's Dr. Richard Minnich said.

"There are too many trees in the ground sucking the ground dry. That's one of the reasons you had so many trees die in the Sierras."
But Minnich says that there is plenty of water in California. Shasta is the biggest reservoir in the state and it's currently more than two-thirds full.

https://abc7.com/politics/cal-fire-responds-to-president-trumps-tweet-/3896820/

California Wildfires: It's a people problem

(East Bay Times) Lisa Krieger, Aug. 5

Even as fires rage across California, thousands of new homes are being built deeper into our flammable foothills and forests, as lethal as they are lovely.

A big reason why: It's harder to do controlled burns — one of the most effective fire suppression techniques — near residential areas, due to smoke concerns. Until the 1970's, fire suppression tended to minimize fire spread.

“If homes are sprinkled through the landscape, you take that key tool off the table,” said Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist with UC's Division of Agriculture & Natural Resources.

https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2018/08/05/california-wildfires-its-a-people-problem/

Report: Future climate could affect street trees

(Turlock Journal) Kristina Hacker, Aug. 3

Eighty-one years from now, Turlock's climate could resemble more of southeast California's high desert areas, according to a new report that says inland California municipalities should consider increasing temperatures due to climate change when planting street trees.

…"Urban foresters in inland cities of California should begin reconsidering their palettes of common street trees to prepare for warmer conditions expected in 2099 due to climate change," said the study's co-author, Igor Lacan, UC Cooperative Extension environmental horticulture advisor in the Bay Area.

https://www.turlockjournal.com/news/local/report-future-climate-could-affect-street-trees/

Wildfires force California to reckon with a not-so-new normal

(Christian Science Monitor) Martin Kuz, Aug. 3

…The committee's focus on improving utility grid safety and examining the liability of power companies reflects the causes of several blazes in 2017. The absence of land use planning from its agenda suggests what Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, describes as a “political will problem.”

“If you want to keep communities safe, then you have to think about living differently, about where and how we build our communities,” he says. “But there's no bill in the legislature about that.”

https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2018/0803/Wildfires-force-California-to-reckon-with-a-not-so-new-normal

Will smoke taint summer harvests in the Mother Lode?

(The Union Democrat) Giuseppe Ricapito, Aug. 3

Drift smoke from the Ferguson Fire has some Tuolumne County vintners and agriculturalists concerned about the commercial viability of the early fall grape harvest, but one forestry official with the University of California noted that the native wilderness of the Mother Lode has a developed adaptability to smoky conditions.

Susie Kocher, forestry and natural resources advisor with the University of California Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Central Sierra Cooperative Extension, said that “smoke taint” of commercial agriculture was always a concern during fire season.

“It's grapes we worry about the most,” she said. “In the past there have been bad years when there was a lot of smoke where grapes were on the vine and wineries had to produce the smoky wine because of that effect.”

https://www.uniondemocrat.com/localnews/6425094-151/will-smoke-taint-summer-harvests-in-the-mother

Coyote encounters expected to rise during heat and drought

(ABC 10) Jared Aarons, Allison Horn, Aug. 2

The record-breaking heat and drought are forcing animals, including coyotes, out of their natural habitats and closer to humans…

The University of California Coyote Catcher website tracks sightings and attacks. Their figures for 2018 show coyote incidents are down compared to last year. In 2017, there were 142 coyote attacks. More than halfway through 2018, San Diego is on track to stay below that number, with 64 attacks.

According to the website, there have been six reported pet deaths this year.

https://www.10news.com/news/coyote-encounters-expected-to-rise-during-heat-and-drought

Backyard chickens are dying in droves in SoCal. Will disease spread to Valley?

(Fresno Bee) Robert Rodriguez, Aug. 2

Maurice Pitesky, a veterinarian and University of California extension specialist in the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, said backyard chicken owners should closely watch their flocks.

Symptoms include, sneezing, coughing, green watery diarrhea, neck twisting, paralysis, decreased egg production and swelling around the eyes and neck.

https://www.fresnobee.com/news/business/agriculture/article215859875.html

Growers prepare for smaller prune harvest

(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, Aug 2

…With guidance from University of California Cooperative Extension advisors, growers have been paying close attention to tree water stress and sugar levels in the weeks leading up to the harvest, which was expected to begin in about the third week of August.

… “It's probably going to vary a little bit because the cropping is really variable,” UCCE advisor emeritus Rick Buchner says of the prune crop. “Some of it is good and some is really light. We had a heck of a time pollinating them.”

…“Harvest can be a nerve-wracking time in the prune business,” UCCE advisors Franz Niederholzer and Wilbur Reil note in a California Dried Plum Board blog post. “The finish line – when the entire crop is in the bins – may be in sight, but here are still tough decisions to be made that influence your bottom line.”

…In general, harvest can be expected roughly 30 days after the first healthy fruit in an orchard starts changing color, UCCE orchard advisor Katherine Jarvis-Shean explains in a separate blog post. She urged growers to time their irrigation cut-off to improve dry-away ratios, reduce premature fruit drop and decrease shaker bark damage at harvest.

https://www.westernfarmpress.com/orchard-crops/growers-prepare-smaller-prune-harvest

Researchers look at ways to improve onion yields

(Ag Alert) Padma Nagappan, Aug. 1

Jairo Diaz-Ramirez and five other scientists have recently completed year two of an irrigation trial for onions, testing furrow and drip irrigation, and found that their methods produced good results, without water distress or soil tension. They tested the Taipan variety of onions.

http://agalert.com/story/Default.aspx?id=12068

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