Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
University of California
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

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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

Ricky Satomi
UC Cooperative Extension area forestry and natural resources advisor in Shasta, Trinity and Siskiyou counties
Forest management and wood use
(530) 224-4900
rpsatomi@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

Kate Wilkin
UC Cooperative Extension forestry/fire science and natural resources advisor
Sutter, Yuba, Butte and Nevada counties
Fire ecology and management, fuels treatments and fire policy
(530) 822-7515
kwilkin@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 Tuesday, October 17, 2017 at 8:07 AM
Tags: wildfire (15)

Preparing to evacuate during wildfire? These checklists can help

Smoke from a Napa County fire was visible from UC's experimental vineyard in Oakville as the staff prepared to evacuate. Photo by Kaan Kurtural
As more than 20 major wildfires burn in Northern California, residents in those regions need to be ready to evacuate on short notice. The wind-driven fires are moving quickly and can change direction unexpectedly.
 
“It is pretty tense here as the fire north of us keeps circling back and forth,” said Glenn McGourty, UC Cooperative Extension director in Mendocino County, on Oct. 12. “So far most of the damage has been in Redwood Valley, where over 200 homes were lost and people had only minutes to get out.”

To help people prepare, CAL FIRE has a checklist for evacuation online at http://www.readyforwildfire.org/Evacuation-Steps. UC Agriculture and Natural Resources scientists contributed to the research behind the recommendations.

A one-page checklist online at http://disastersafety.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/IBHS-Wildfire-Last-Minute-Checklist.pdf, also based on research by UC ANR scientists, is available from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety.

Napa County residents have been told to be prepared in case they need to leave.

“We have team members tending to their own homes and or family's needs, providing support in shelters, and being available for immediate clientele needs in any way they can,” said David Lewis, UC Cooperative Extension director in Napa and Marin counties. “We look forward to calling upon UC colleagues with more experience to support our communities in the long recovery period. For the immediate future, we will stay focused in our efforts to support evacuation and shelter efforts – personal safety and needs are priority one until the fires no longer pose a threat.”

The main thing to remember when preparing to evacuate is to protect your life first.

“Don't die trying to prepare your house before you leave,” said Yana Valachovic, UC Cooperative Extension director and forest advisor in Humboldt and Del Norte counties. “Monitor the situation, watch the wind directions, and listen to all emergency personnel.”

To receive timely updates on fire conditions, Brian Oatman, UC ANR Risk & Safety Services director, uses Nixle. “While some communication methods may not work due to outages, the more sources we have, the better the chance that the message gets through,” Oatman said. To sign up for text alerts, visit http://www.nixle.com or text your zipcode to 888-777 to opt-in.

“We have coordinated with CropMobster to create a resource list at https://sfbay.cropmobster.com/bay-area-fire-resources where anyone can post any needs or offer help of any kind,” said Stephanie Larson, UC Cooperative Extension director in Sonoma County. “UCCE Sonoma has also created a Disaster Recovery for Agriculture Operations at http://cesonoma.ucanr.edu/Disaster_Resources for homeowners and managers of rangelands. UCCE is working closely with Sonoma County to provide UC ANR resources to assist with the recovery of our community that has been devastated by this fire.”

In Yuba County, the Cascade fire is 45 percent contained as of Oct. 12. “Evacuation orders are being lifted in parts of Yuba County,” said Janine Hasey, UC Cooperative Extension director for Sutter and Yuba counties. “Kate Wilkin, our new UC Cooperative Extension forestry, fire science and natural resources advisor in Sutter, Yuba, Butte and Nevada counties, has assembled resources for residents who are returning to their homes at http://cesutter.ucanr.edu/Fire_Information. We will be updating the website with more recovery information in the coming days.”

Posted on Thursday, October 12, 2017 at 6:34 PM

UC Cooperative Extension Presidential Chair for Agricultural Education formed in Orange County

UC President Janet Napolitano has approved the formation of a $1 million endowment to create the UC Cooperative Extension Presidential Chair for Agricultural Education in Orange County. Half the endowment was donated by the Orange County Farm Bureau; Napolitano matched the contribution through the presidential endowment fund.

The Orange County Farm Bureau is housed at the UC South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine. The two organizations have worked together closely since their formation more than 100 years ago.

The new UC Cooperative Extension Presidential Chair for Agricultural Education in Orange County will allow for more local students to be exposed to careers in agricultural science.

“What Orange County Farm Bureau and the UC president's office have created will fund agricultural education activities in Orange County and the surrounding region for decades to come,” said UC ANR vice president Glenda Humiston. “This is a way for us to make sure the resources we need are there and that they're targeted for the needs identified by individuals at their local areas.”

President of the Orange County Farm Bureau, Mark Lopez, said the formation of the endowment will help the organization meet its goals.

“In our rapidly urbanizing county, the Farm Bureau is seeking to cement a legacy of ag in Orange County, and invest in the development of future leaders for agriculture,” Lopez said. "This donation, and the formation of the Presidential Chair for Ag Education, is directly in line with the mission of Orange County Farm Bureau.”

Director of the South Coast REC, Darren Haver, who is also a UC Cooperative Extension water resources advisor, holds the chair. He and his farm bureau colleagues will initially use the funds to expand an agricultural leadership and educational program for Orange County youth.  

FARMS ( Farming, Agriculture, and Resource Management for Sustainability) Leadership, a program of the Center for Land-Based Learning implemented in Orange County by the Orange County Farm Bureau, in addition to the Orange County Farm Bureau's GROW program, offers field trips and hands-on learning over the course of a school year at locations such as the South Coast REC, acquainting students with wildlife areas, agriculture related businesses and research, colleges and universities where they gain valuable insight into the food and agriculture industry, associated careers and college opportunities. The programs have been open to ag students in Orange County for over five years promoting the importance of agriculture in their daily lives.

“The current programs serve approximately 90 students from four high schools located in Orange County that have agriculture programs,” Haver said. “With this new funding, we will be able to reach beyond the ag students and involve youth interested in math and sciences, but don't know much about agriculture.”

Humiston said she hopes that partnerships like this one can be formed across the state.

“This is a way for us to make sure the resources we need are there and that they're targeted for the needs identified by individuals at their local area,” Humiston said.

In announcing the establishment of the presidential endowment funding in 2014, Napolitano said it is imperative for UC to develop new models of philanthropy that recognize and honor the interests of donors while helping UC address its long-term funding needs.

“By supporting these endowed chairs, donors will be creating a lasting legacy at the university – one that will benefit many generations to come,” Napolitano said.

Posted on Monday, October 9, 2017 at 4:49 PM

To accelerate ag, food and natural resources technology, UC ANR and AgStart receive $500,000 to cultivate the VINE

The Verde Innovation Network for Entrepreneurship will connect entrepreneurs statewide to resources to commercialize a new product or start a business
Blue River flies a drone over sorghum research plots at the Kearney REC to collect data on plant height, leaf area and biomass.

California is constantly being challenged by pest invasions, obesity, labor shortages, water scarcity, food insecurity, climate change and more. To accelerate the development and adoption of technologies that address these challenges and advance food, agriculture and natural resources in California, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and AgStart will receive a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to cultivate the Verde Innovation Network for Entrepreneurship (the VINE) 

Like a grapevine, the VINE will connect existing clusters of innovation across California and link entrepreneurs with mentors, advisors, collaborators, events, competitions, education and other services to turn good ideas into products and services people can use. 

“We want to make sure every Californian has the support system to take a novel idea and commercialize a new product or start a new business,” said Glenda Humiston, UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “They don't have to be a university inventor, they could be a farmer or a young person.”

From left, John Selep with Olivier Jerphagnon and Kevin Langham of Powwow Energy, which uses electric utility smartmeters to help growers measure irrigation water use, with no hardware installation necessary.

AgStart itself was established with an EDA i6 Challenge grant to assist agriculture and food technology entrepreneurs in the Sacramento Valley region. Since 2012, AgStart has supported more than 58 entrepreneurs and their companies.

“In 2016, of the 16 entrepreneurial companies that AgStart assisted, eight resided outside our region, and leveraged AgStart's program to make connections into our Sacramento Valley region,” said John Selep, president of AgTech Innovation Alliance, AgStart's sponsor. 

“The VINE will expand this AgStart model of connecting entrepreneurs to the resources they need to be successful, to enable entrepreneurs residing anywhere in California to connect to the clusters of resources, contacts, mentors and potential partners that have emerged across the state,” said Selep.  

“The VINE is really exciting because of its potential to unite all the regions of California in an innovation ecosystem for food, agriculture and natural resources,” said Gabe Youtsey.
Gabriel Youtsey, UC ANR chief innovation officer, said the VINE won't recreate the wheel: “There are many wonderful regional innovation hubs in food, agriculture and natural resources so we plan to bring value by amplifying their efforts, connecting regions and organizations into a more cohesive ecosystem, and bringing value-added resources that ultimately benefit all Californians through the innovations affecting our economic prosperity, food supply and environment.”

UC Cooperative Extension specialists and advisors, who work in every county, can provide insight into real-world conditions that entrepreneurs should consider in the development stage. UC ANR's nine research and extension centers can provide locations to field-test products and demonstrate their effectiveness. For example, start-up Blue River is testing its technology by flying a drone over sorghum crops to collect data at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier.

“The VINE is really exciting because of its potential to unite all the regions of California in an innovation ecosystem for food, agriculture and natural resources,” said Youtsey. “Not only will it help bridge the Silicon Valley and Bay Area with California's food-producing valleys, but it will bring opportunities for our innovators and entrepreneurs in rural communities in every part of California to participate.”

2017 Apps for Ag hackathon winners Sreejumon Kundilepurayil and Vidya Kannoly are getting help from UC ANR to commercialize their smartphone app.
For the last two years, UC ANR has hosted the Apps for Ag hackathon and has introduced the winners to mentors, tech industry advisors, farmers, funders and legal experts who can advise entrepreneurs on business structure.

The VINE, which is working with UC Davis Innovation Institute for Food and Health and Valley Vision, is being structured to complement other efforts to establish food, agriculture, and natural resources incubation and innovation resources in cluster locations around the state, such as the BlueTechValley Regional Innovation Cluster, the Western Growers Innovation & Technology Center, UC Merced's VentureLab and others.

Youtsey and Selep are seeking more VINE partners with expertise across the business spectrum.

“If our vision is successful, the VINE will make California the most fertile region in the world for entrepreneurs in ag and food technology to establish themselves, to prosper and grow,” Selep said.

Posted on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 at 4:37 PM

Decreasing forest density will reduce fire risk, build climate resilience

“Actions to arrest the decline in forest health will take place far from urban centers,” said Van Butsic, a coauthor of the report.

California needs to increase the pace and scale of efforts to improve the health of its headwater forests — the source of two-thirds of the state's surface water supply. Management techniques including prescribed fire, managed wildfire and mechanical thinning can help rebuild resilience in these forests and prepare them for a challenging future.

These are among the key findings of a report released today by the PPIC Water Policy Center.

Decades of fire suppression have increased the density of trees and other fuels in headwater forests to uncharacteristically high levels and resulted in massive tree die-offs and large, severe wildfires. Improving forest health will require reducing the density of small trees and fuels on a massive scale.

This will require changes in the regulation, administration, and management of forests. Many of the recommended reforms in forest management can take place at low or no cost. But implementing them will require vision, determined leadership by state and federal officials, and the backing of an informed public.

“Actions to arrest the decline in forest health will take place far from urban centers,” said Van Butsic, a coauthor of the report and a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley. “But all Californians will benefit through continued supplies of high-quality water, natural environments, forest products and recreational landscapes.”

Changing the way forestry work is funded — and in some cases securing new funding — will also be needed to help expedite forest improvements. The authors suggest reforms that will enable the private sector and government agencies to use existing tools and funding opportunities more effectively and collaborate more easily on larger-scale management projects. One key recommendation is to find opportunities to combine revenue-generating timber harvesting with other management work to help offset the costs of efforts to improve forest health.

“Making forest health a top land management priority for public and private lands would be a critical first step in reversing the degraded condition of the state's headwater forests,” said report coauthor Henry McCann, a research associate with the PPIC Water Policy Center.

The report, Improving the Health of California's Headwater Forests, was supported with funding from the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and the US Environmental Protection Agency. In addition to Butsic and McCann, the coauthors are Jeffrey Mount and Brian Gray, both senior fellows at the PPIC Water Policy Center; Jodi Axelson, a UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Berkeley; Yufang Jin, an assistant professor in the Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources at UC Davis; Scott Stephens, professor of fire science and co-director of the Center for Forestry and Center for Fire Research and Outreach at UC Berkeley; and William Stewart, a UC Cooperative Extension specialist and co-director of the Center for Forestry and Center for Fire Research and Outreach at the UC Berkeley.

Posted on Monday, September 18, 2017 at 9:05 PM

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