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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Sacramento 4-H takes to the national stage

An innovative 4-H program developed in Sacramento will be featured on American Graduate Day 2014, a multi-platform PBS event broadcast live from Lincoln Center in New York on Sept. 27. It can be viewed on the web at http://americangraduate.org/grad-day and on participating PBS stations from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time.

Left to right, Marianne Bird, Gayle Craggs and Bonnie Lingren will represent Sacramento 4-H on American Graduate Day 2014.
American Graduate Day is about the nation's high-school dropout crisis and the organizations working tirelessly to combat it. Producers found out about Sacramento's 4-H On the Wild Side program, in which trained teenagers work in partnership with adults to plan and implement a two-night camping trip for elementary school students. The teenagers learn leadership skills and get a chance to make a difference in children's lives; and the children get a chance to sleep outdoors and experience nature first-hand.

“I got to look at the stars. I saw the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper, and the Milky Way. It looked like a line of milk and glitter,” said one camper.

To tell the nation about this program, American Graduate Day 2014 has made arrangements for three Sacramento representatives to travel to New York City next weekend to be panelists on the show. They are Marianne Bird, UC Cooperative Extension 4-H advisor; Gayle Craggs, a Twin Rivers Unified School District teacher and 4-H On the Wild Side leader; and Bonnie Lingren, a 4-H member who was an On The Wild Side teen leader for four years. (Lingren, 2014 McClatchy High School graduate, is now a freshman at Carleton College in Minnesota.)

Media contact: Marianne Bird, (916) 875-6423, mbird@ucanr.edu

For more information, see the attached PDF documents:

Posted on Friday, September 19, 2014 at 2:28 PM
Tags: 4-H (5), Marianne Bird (1), On the Wild Side (1)

Calendar with rare Pacific fisher photos available from UC Cooperative Extension

A Pacific fisher image from the new calendar.
A treasure trove of candid Pacific fisher photos has been compiled into an 18-month calendar that is being sold to raise awareness about the small, nocturnal carnivore.

The calendars – designed by Anne Lombardo, a UC program representative with the Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project – are available for $12 each on the UCCE Central Sierra website.

Once widespread across the high elevation forests of the Sierra Nevada and in the coastal mountains of northwestern California, fishers are now found there only in two small isolated populations. One group lives near the California-Oregon border; the other in the southern Sierra Nevada between Yosemite and Sequoia national parks.

Two research studies of the southern fisher population – one led by the University of California in the Sugar Pine area south of Yosemite and the other led by the U.S. Forest Service in the Kings River watershed – have been documenting the fate of the animals for the past six years. During that time, forests were treated to reduce fire danger by thinning trees under 30 inches in diameter or by smashing down small trees and brush in a process called mastication. The research will determine whether the treatments have an impact on the fisher population. The Kings River project has been led by USFS research ecologist Craig Thompson since its inception. Thompson recently also took over leadership of the Sugar Pine project to complete the final two years.

In the Yosemite area, most of the fisher surveillance has been done by plane using radio telemetry to track fisher with transmitting collars. In the Forest Service study area, the radio telemetry surveillance has been done on the ground.

“Now that we are working more closely together, we have access to many more pictures,” Lombardo said. “They have done a lot of tracking in this area and taken some incredible photos.”

The calendar includes 20 photos of a creature that wildlife lovers rarely get to see because of the Pacific fishers' relatively small population and reclusive habits. Photos include kits with their mothers in the wild and also orphaned kits on their own at a wildlife recovery facility. The calendar marks the days between July 2014 and December 2015.

More information about the fisher projects in the Sierra Nevada may be found on the Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project website.

Posted on Friday, September 19, 2014 at 9:22 AM
Tags: Anne Lombardo (1), Pacific fisher (2), SNAMP (2)

King Fire may put UC research forest to the test

Blodgett Forest King Fire Map - updated Sept. 19, 2014.
A key University of California, Berkeley, research station is threatened by the King Fire in El Dorado County. Blodgett Research Forest, 4,270 acres located 10 miles east of Georgetown, is home to scores of UC Berkeley investigations on trees and other plants, fish and wildlife populations, insects, diseases, soils, atmospheric chemistry and wildfire management techniques.

Backfiring — controlled burns to contain greater wildfire damage — are expected to begin today (Friday, Sept. 19) on the Blodgett property. The arson-sparked King Fire has burned more than 75,000 acres, triggering evacuations, incinerating trees, and closing Highway 50 and local roads. As of this morning the fire was only 10 percent contained, according to Calfire. University personnel have been evacuated from the research station and UC Berkeley fire experts in El Dorado County and on the Berkeley campus, based at the College of Natural Resources (CNR), are coordinating with the U.S. Forest Service, which manages wildfires in this region, and Calfire on priorities for defending the property.

“With 50 years of annual harvests and 40 years of annual measurements of permanent plots, Blodgett is the Rosetta Stone for the Sierra Nevada with respect to the interactions of forests, management and fires,” said William Stewart, a forestry researcher and co-director of UC Berkeley's Center for Forestry. In addition, Stewart said, the half-century of monitoring gives Blodgett the longest continuous record on forests in the Sierra Nevada.

While the spread of the King Fire to Blodgett would result in a discontinuity in the long-term data collection, it simultaneously would launch the start of data collection on a new continuum—a unique opportunity to learn, fire experts say.

“You'll change that continuous record, but also start a whole new record that reflects the fundamental role of disruptive elements of Sierra ecology,” said J. Keith Gilless, CNR dean and a forest economics professor.

Researchers would also get valuable information on current experiments and hypotheses.

“Our investments in improving forest resiliency will be severely tested if the King Fire enters our property,” Stewart said. “We will find out how effective those investments have been.” For example, effectiveness of vegetation treatments, such as cutting low brush and young trees, or creating patchworks of smaller clear-cut areas, will be tested in a more severe way than is possible under normal research conditions.

“You never say, ‘let's light a really, really hot fire and see how the stand holds up,'” said Gilless. “But you can go in and do analysis after an event like this: We hypothesized these treatments would be effective; do they actually deliver when put to the test by an uncontrolled wildfire?”

Scientists are already preparing to collect data—soil samples, tree mortality rates, information on char height (burns to the trunks) and scorch height (burns to the treetops)— both to understand how the fire burned and increase the potential to bring back a healthy forest.

Not every tree dies in a wildfire. But damaged trees become more susceptible to pests and pathogens, which can kill them or inhibit the growth of other vegetation. “We can measure the potential resilience of a forest by understanding the level of damage and mortality, and how our forest-management practices influenced those outcomes,” said fire science professor Scott Stephens.

The researchers say it's also opportunity to employ adaptive management, a forestry best practice that involves learning from the results of each fire, analyzing what worked, what didn't, and why; and then applying those lessons.

With the fire advancing and Blodgett in an area currently slated to be allowed to burn, researchers are scurrying to organize their efforts.

“Unlike much of the research we do, an event like this imposes its own timetable. You have to deal with it in real time,” Gilless said. And while collective fingers are crossed that Blodgett will survive, Berkeley's fire researchers must prepare for any outcome. “Everything that transpires in nature is an opportunity to learn,” added Gilless.

A trove of past — and future — data

The research station is located in an area where danger posed by severe wildfires is very high. For the past two decades it has been a center for UC Berkeley research projects that evaluate the effectiveness of treated plots against control plots—unmanaged ecological reserves.

The findings from this research have already had broad impacts on how fires are managed locally, statewide, nationally, and internationally. Data gathered at Blodgett have helped scientists, forest managers, and fire experts understand:
• How different forest and fuel management techniques work over time;
• How forest management approaches affect biodiversity;
• How processes likenutrient cycling and carbon cycling actually operate in forests.

For example, biodiversity studies showed that a mosaic of tree sizes and openings create more habitat niches for birds and animals. Fuel treatment studies have show that reducing tree and shrub densities increase the probability that medium and large size trees can survive wildfires.

Stephens, whose recent research includes thinning young forests to reduce fire risk and greenhouse gas emissions, says the King Fire is a symptom of California's larger forest problem.

“Almost all of the Sierra Nevada is in a state of high fire hazard because of past fire suppression, and harvesting that focused on large trees,” a practice that left the more susceptible smaller trees and debris, increasing fuel loads. “It will take decades of active management to reduce hazards and produce resilient forests,” Stephens said. “This will not be easy but it is possible. If we don't get this work done, future generations will not enjoy forests as we have, and forests will be fundamentally different, with much more severe wildfire impacts. ”

Related Links

Fire map on UC Berkeley Center for Forestry
Incident Information System map
Blodgett Research Forest

Posted on Friday, September 19, 2014 at 9:17 AM
Tags: Blodgett Forest (1), wildfire (7)

UC recognizes outstanding Master Gardener projects with 'Search for Excellence' Awards

UCCE Master Gardener of Santa Clara County displays their recent harvest from their demonstration garden at St. Louise Hospital in Gilroy.
UC Master Gardener programs in Riverside, Santa Clara, Orange and San Diego counties have won the program's Search for Excellence competition, announced Missy Gable, director of UC's statewide Master Gardener Program. The triennial Search for Excellence awards afford county programs the opportunity to share successful projects, including demonstration gardens, workshops, presentations or hands-on programs, community service, horticulture therapy, research or youth programs.

Educating the public was the focus of the Search for Excellence 2014 competition. The entries were judged by a team of experts selected from throughout the state.

"Congratulations to all the Master Gardeners involved in carrying out these innovative projects," Gable said. "This competition celebrates the hard work of dedicated UCCE Master Gardener volunteers across the state."

The Search for Excellence competition winners will be honored at the Master Gardeners Statewide Conference, Oct. 7-10 in Fish Camp, Calif. The next Search for Excellence competition will be in 2017.

The first place winners of the UC Master Gardeners triennial Search for Excellence Awards

First Place - Riverside County
“There's Gold in them thar hills!” Riverside County is a big county, stretching from the Los Angeles metro area to the Colorado River. The main challenge of the UCCE Master Gardener Program of Riverside County was how to better fulfill their mission of educating their community on sustainable gardening practices. The answer – “Gold Miners.” Riverside County was divided into nine geographic areas with a UCCE Master Gardener volunteer in each area actively pursuing volunteering opportunities for their peers. Since the program began in 2011, “Gold Miners” has increased the presence of UCCE Master Gardeners throughout the county, giving volunteers the opportunity to provide outreach closer to home, engage new members of the public and increase the number of certified UCCE Master Gardeners from all regions of the county.

Second Place - Santa Clara County
UCCE Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County developed a one-acre teaching and demonstration garden on the grounds of St. Louise Hospital in Gilroy. The demonstration garden was designed to create educational outreach opportunities in the far southern portion of the county. UCCE Master Gardener volunteers provide hands-on public workshops in the garden as well as classes in both the hospital boardroom and community libraries. The objectives of the St. Louise Hospital garden includes teaching residents about low-water vegetables, fruits, and ornamental plants well-suited to local growing conditions, and modeling sustainable gardening practices reflective of UC research-based horticultural principals.

Master Gardeners of Orange County received third place for their video series on composting.
Third Place - Orange County
Passionate volunteers from the UCCE Master Gardener Program of Orange County developed a series of 15 educational videos. Nine videos provide a comprehensive overview of the composting process and six videos concentrate on worm composting. Each series begins with an explanation of what composting is and shifts into how to start, maintain and troubleshoot a compost pile or worm bin. The videos are designed to instruct and encourage the gardening public to compost either at home or in community gardens. All of the educational videos were filmed and narrated by UCCE Master Gardeners. The videos are published on the UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County public website.

First Runner-up - Orange County
Recognizing the need to reach a significantly larger number of home gardeners than demonstration booths and Farmers Market tables were engaging, the UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County developed a speakers bureau. The criteria was simple: fulfill the mission of disseminating up-to-date, research-based information and to deliver "wow" presentations for the public. UCCE Master Gardeners created teaching plans, incorporating the statewide program mission and the ANR Strategic Vision to cover important topics such as gardening for improved nutrition and healthy living. Additionally, the UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County engaged the help of Toastmasters International, an undisputed authority for training speakers.

Second Runner-up - San Diego County
UCCE Master Gardeners of San Diego County created a program called MG Growing Opportunities (MG-GO) which provides research-based horticulture education to teenage youth involved with the juvenile justice system. Under the guidance of UCCE Master Gardeners and a vocational horticultural therapist, incarcerated youth learn about ecosystem friendly, sustainable gardening. In the process, the youth acquire vocational and life skills, such as teamwork, problem solving, self-esteem, and leadership. The goals of MG-GO are to introduce sustainable gardening practices to an under-served population, highlight gardening as a healing endeavor, and develop a replicable model for statewide use.

About us
The UC Master Gardener Program provides the public with UC research-based information about home horticulture, sustainable landscaping, and pest management practices. It is administered by local UCCE county-based offices that are the principal outreach and public service arms of the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The UC Master Gardener Program is an example of an effective partnership between the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and passionate volunteers. In exchange for training from University of California, UCCE Master Gardener volunteers engage the public with timely gardening-related trainings and workshops. With programs based in 50 California counties and 6,048 active members, UCCE Master Gardener volunteers donated 385,260 hours last year and have donated more than 4.2 million hours since the program inception in 1981.

Posted on Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 3:01 PM

Fruit and Nut Center at UC Davis offers three-day course in pistachio production

The UC Fruit and Nut Research and Information Center and UC Cooperative Extension offer a three-day course in pistachio production.
The latest advances in pistachio production will take center stage in November at a three-day extension course in Visalia, offered by the Fruit and Nut Research and Information Center at UC Davis and University of California Cooperative Extension. The course, Advances in Pistachio Production, will be held Nov. 18-20 at the Visalia Convention Center.

“This course sets the standard for UC pomology extension courses with a wide array of farm advisor, specialist, and faculty instructors representing decades of experience in California pistachio production,” said Louise Ferguson, UCCE specialist with the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences. “Topics span the full range of pistachio production including tree biology, orchard establishment, pruning, irrigation, nutrition, pest management, harvest and postharvest.”

In addition to the essentials of California pistachio production, the course will feature new lectures on hot topics, including:

  • You know that feeling of walking into an orchard and realizing something is wrong? Farm advisors will help growers figure out what's wrong and how to fix it, outlining the diagnostic process they use to determine the cause of poor production or tree health.

  • Although pistachio is more tolerant of salinity than most tree crops, excess salinity does affect pistachio tree biology and production. Combing pistachio biology with data from ongoing research projects, experts will provide the latest production recommendations for irrigation under saline conditions.

  • The success of a pistachio orchard in California is ultimately determined by international markets and exports, even if all other aspects of production are optimal. Course participants will receive a current analysis of international markets and look into the future for pistachio production.

  • Grade sheets are an important tool to measure yield and understand potential problems in an orchard. Experts will detail the components of grade sheets to connect this important postharvest tool to future orchard management decisions.

Participants will receive a bound copy of all lecture slides, the recently published Nutrient Deficiency in Pistachio booklet, and exclusive electronic resources.

Registration is available at the following link:


Or, visit the Fruit and Nut Research and Information Center website, fruitsandnuts.ucdavis.edu, for more information.

Media contact:

Posted on Friday, September 12, 2014 at 12:56 PM

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