- Posted by: Susie Kocher
Here's the weekly forest news digest from Greg Giusti:
Nearly half of western wildfire costs go to California, ALYSON KENWARD/and UROOJ RAJA, Climate Central, 08/29/2013
With one of California's largest-recorded wildfires still burning largely uncontained and threatening water and electricity for millions, the total bill for fighting U.S. wildfires in 2013 is now likely to soar well past $1 billion. By the time the blaze is put out, which could be weeks from now, California's Rim Fire will likely be among the most expensive wildfires of the year. In fact, during the past 10 years, $4 billion has been spent fighting wildfires in California, more than in any other state.....
Fire is largest ever in recorded Sierra history, Manteca Bulletin, August 28, 2013,
GROVELAND (AP) — Unnaturally long intervals between wildfires and years of drought primed the Sierra Nevada for theexplosive conflagration chewing up the rugged landscape on the edge of Yosemite National Park, forestry experts say. The fire had ravaged 288 square miles by Tuesday, the biggest in the Sierra’s recorded history and one of the largest on record in California. Containment increased to 20 percent but the number of destroyed structures rose to 111 and some 4,500 structures remained threatened. .....
Forest Service policy: Squelching Sierra fires left forest ready to burn, Associated Press, The Oregonian, August 28, 2013
GROVELAND, Calif. — Unnaturally long intervals between wildfires and years of drought primed the Sierra Nevada for the explosive conflagration chewing up the rugged landscape on the edge of Yosemite National Park, forestry experts say. The fire had ravaged 288 square miles by Tuesday night, making it the biggest fire in the Sierra's recorded history and one of the largest on record in California. Containment held steady at 20 percent, but the number of destroyed structures rose to 111, and some 4,500 structures remained threatened. At least 31 residences were among those lost......
Commentary: Wildfires Underline Need for Active Forest Management By Elisa Noble, California Farm Bureau Federation, Sierra Sun Times, August 28, 2013
Anyone driving from the Central Valley to the Sierra knows that this year's fire season is in full swing. The American Fire in the Tahoe National Forest area of Placer County is one of at least four wildfires currently burning along the Sierra Nevada range. At more than 20,200 acres and 66 percent contained as of press time, we are gratified that firefighters are getting close to mopping this one up. But other fires, such as the Rim Fire in Tuolumne County.....
Forest Service budget to fight wildfires is depleted, Devon Merling, Deseret News, Aug. 27 2013
For the second year in a row, the Forest Service has exhausted its entire budget for fighting fires, according to the Washington Post. The news comes as wildfires rage across the West, including the Rim fire in California near Yosemite National Park, which has so far burned 160,980 acres and is only 20 percent contained, according to the Forest Service's Active Fire Map. According to the Post, nearly 3 million acres have burned in the United States so far this year. As of last week, the Forest Service had spent $967 million of the firefighting budget, leaving only $50 million in the budget for the rest of the year......
Bill to ban lead bullets may spark higher fire danger, Michelle Orrock, Flash Report, August 28, 2013
(*Reader note: Cosumnes CSD Fire Department provides fire, rescue and emergency medical services to an area covering more than 157 square miles, including the cities of Elk Grove and Galt, and a population of approximately 160,000.)
The California Department of Finance just estimated that the state has already spent $44 million on its firefighting expenses. According to their spokesperson, that amounts to a quarter of what was budgeted, and the fiscal year just began. As a local elected official charged with the fiscal management of a large fire district, these numbers are cause for concern. Whether we are looking at pension obligations and budget constraints or environmental issues like drought – the growing state and local costs to protect communities from fire is serious.....
Judge upholds cap-and-trade auctions in tentative ruling, Debra Kahn, Greenwire, August 28, 2013 (subscription required)
A California judge yesterday denied business groups' bid to overturn the state's system of distributing greenhouse gas permits, in a tentative ruling issued one day before this morning's oral arguments. Judge Timothy Frawley of Sacramento Superior Court said California's 2006 global warming law, A.B. 32, gives the state wide discretion to select the method by which it caps greenhouse gas emissions at 1990 levels by 2020. The California Chamber of Commerce and other groups had alleged that the state-run auctions amounted to an illegal tax on businesses.....
Is CEQA Reform Coming Up Short? Tom Scott, Executive Director, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, Fox & Hounds Daily, August 27th, 2013,
Is substantial CEQA reform possible or is it coming up short? The latest version of state Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg’s SB 731 falls short of what should be the ultimate goal of any CEQA reform: stopping abusive CEQA lawsuits while preserving CEQA’s ability to protect the environment. Last week, SB 731 advanced out of the Assembly Local Government Committee and, by the looks of it, the “elusive middle ground” that Sen. Steinberg seeks was very elusive in this bill.
Big reform of CEQA bogs down, Dan Walters, Sacramento Bee, AUG. 23, 2013
Substantially overhauling the 40-year-old California Environmental Quality Act may still happen, but with just two weeks remaining in the legislative session, it probably won't happen this year. Gov. Jerry Brown wants it to happen. He once criticized CEQA, signed by Ronald Reagan a couple of years before Brown succeeded him as governor, as "a blob," and in calling for reform, said, "I've never seen a CEQA exemption I don't like." However, environmental groups that wield great power in the Legislature are very resistant to change, as are labor unions that have used the environmental law to thwart non-union development, such as big-box retail stores......
Another lawsuit aims to stop Willits bypass work, GLENDA ANDERSON
Santa Rosa Press Democrat, August 27, 2013
Environmentalists have filed another lawsuit aimed at stalling work on the Willits bypass. They will be asking a Mendocino County judge on Wednesday for an injunction to stop soil from being moved from timber company property to wetlands Caltrans is filling as part of the $210 million, 5.9-mile Highway 101 bypass around Willits. The bypass, conceived more than five decades ago, has increasingly sparked opposition as it verges on reality. It generated another lawsuit last year and a multitude of protests since construction began early this year. Proponents say the bypass will alleviate traffic jams.....
Could Fires Influence Tax Decision? Joel Fox, Fox & Hounds Daily, August 26th, 2013
Firefighters are battling the Rim Fire near Yosemite, one of the largest fires in California history — but that’s not all. According to Cal Fire, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection site that monitors fires in the state, as I write this column, 8300 firefighters are battling a dozen California wildfires. The tongues of these fires lick against some policy and legal concerns the state faces. While the fires raise alarms about natural resources, the potential lose of life and property, and in the case of the Rim Fire, the water and power sources for the city of San Francisco, the fires will once again put a focus on the controversial fire tax. You might remember the fire tax was passed as a fee a couple of years ago. It affects
property owners in State Responsibility Areas for fire prevention......
Agency taking back federal funds, BECKY BOHRER, San Jose Mercury News, 08/22/2013
JUNEAU, Alaska—The U.S. Forest Service plans to take a portion of the timber payments it has promised or paid out to 22 states, citing federal budget cuts. Collection letters from Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell went out to governors around the country Monday, saying money would be taken from funds used for habitat improvement and other national forest-related projects that put people to work under the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act. Oregon stands to lose the most in the move, with nearly $4 million in reductions. That would leave the state with about $3.4 million under that program......
Rim fire: Disaster shows need to invest in Sierra forests and California's water supply, Brian Dahle and Rich Gordon, San Jose Mercury News, 08/26/2013
The two of us have many differences. One is a Republican, the other a Democrat. One represents a rural district, the other predominately suburban communities. There is plenty we do not agree on. But we are in total agreement on the benefits that flow from the Sierra Nevada to all of California, the most obvious of which is water. The Rim wildfire, which continues to encroach on Yosemite National Park and now threatens the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, is just one example of the environment degradation that jeopardizes the Sierra's many resources. Additional investments are necessary to ensure water continues to be delivered throughout California and that the forests remain a state icon.......
Divestment of fossil fuel holdings up for vote by Silicon Valley water district, Paul Rogers, San Jose Mercury News, Aug 26, 2013
In the 1980s, hundreds of American cities, states and universities sold their investments in South African companies as part of a protest against that country's former apartheid government. Now, environmental groups are trying to duplicate that effort, but with global warming polluters in the role of villain. And, just as with South African divestment a generation ago, the Bay Area is at the head of the parade again, prompting cheers from environmentalists and jeers from skeptics who say the whole effort amounts to little more than empty symbolism.....
Bill to protect mountain lions heads to governor, Aaron Kinney, Santa Cruz Sentinel, Aug 26, 2013
SACRAMENTO -- A proposed law to prevent the needless killing of mountain lions by state wardens cleared the Legislature on Monday and now awaits the approval of Gov. Jerry Brown. The legislation by state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, would give California Department of Fish and Wildlife wardens broader authority to pursue nonlethal measures, such as trapping or tranquilizing, when dealing with lions that are spotted in residential areas. It was inspired by the fatal shooting Dec. 1 of two cubs as they huddled under the porch of a home in Half Moon Bay......
Feds change endangered species law rules despite GOP protest, Julian Hattem
The Hill, Aug 26, 2013
The Obama administration is finalizing a change to the way it protects the habitat of endangered and threatened animals. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which administers the Endangered Species Act, is framing the change as an increase
in transparency and cut to red tape, though Republicans have charged that it lets regulators rush through new regulations without proper oversight. Under the new rule, set to take effect Oct. 30, agencies’ determinations about the economic impact of protecting habitat will be released at the same time as the rule is proposed. Currently, the wildlife service publishes its analyses of the protections’ economic cost after the proposal and scientific backing come out......
Critics jump all over federal Sierra Nevada frog-protection proposal. Opponents worry the plan would do more to protect frogs and toads than nonnative trout — a top tourist draw in resort areas, Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times, August 25, 2013
A federal proposal to make the Sierra Nevada as comfortable as possible for some of their rarest amphibian inhabitants has stirred a backlash from business owners over the economic pain it could cause the region's recreation industry. Many opponents worry the proposal would do more to protect frogs and toads than nonnative trout — a top tourist draw in mountain resort communities where cash registers ring up purchases by vacationers, hikers and fishing enthusiasts this time of year......
Loggers Get the OK to Kill Endangered Spotted Owls, Beth Buczynski
Care2, August 23, 2013
Endangered Species Act exists to protect biodiversity. It can only work when species listed as endangered are actually afforded the protections guaranteed to them in the Act. Unfortunately these days, even earning classification as an endangered species doesn’t always mean safety from harm. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service approved a plan that would allow Fruit Growers Supply Co. accelerate logging of occupied spotted owl habitat in California’s old growth forests......
- Posted by: Susie Kocher
After a three-hour drive getting to know my driving buddies, listening to Fleetwood Mac and reveling in the forested landscape, we arrived. Lines of small wooden shanties and long dormitories circled around a campfire classroom, and small hand-painted signs directed us to various camp buildings, classrooms and bathrooms. As I tried to contain my excitement, I saw a handful of other campers who looked just as overwhelmed as I felt, unable to believe that this was to be our home for the next two months.
That first day of camp transported me back to a time when friends were made around picnic tables instead of 600-person lecture halls or random parties. After I found one of my friends, we sat near the entrance of camp and attempted to get to know the people we’d be spending all our time with. We helped people unload, found unclaimed rooms, played table tennis and shared our fears of spending the next two months without reliable cellphone service or social media.
One of my friends from the Volvo became my new roommate, and we chose our room based on the beautiful piece of bark near the door and the giant sugar pinecone hanging from the ceiling. Our “suga’ shack,” as it came to be known as, was a tiny, room-sized building with two tiny beds, two desks, fold-up chairs and little room for anything else. The rooms were open to the air, with screened doors and wooden walls that turned into metal mosquito netting about five feet up. We noticed that there were already families of spiders throughout it, with their intricate webbing tying together various pieces of furniture. Although we swept away the webs that day, by the end of camp, various critters — including squirrels, crickets, ants, yellow jackets and spiders — were normal companions in any building we inhabited.
During these eight weeks, I learned more about the forest than I thought I’d ever know. We learned about soil site indexes, forest pathogens, measurements and logging techniques. We took field trips to lumber mills and logging shows, and we climbed mountains and took plant quizzes on the way up. I learned how to climb a tree, hold a fire hose and properly chop wood. I woke up to the call of the Mountain Chickadee’s “Heeyyyy hippieee” call and went to sleep cradled by the light of the moon. Our days were hard; there’s no denying the struggle of waking up at 7 a.m. and not being done with class until 5:30 p.m., but now, comfortably sitting in my house with a hot cup of coffee and a cat, it’s incredible how lucky we were to have a living classroom that we could shape and be shaped by.
It’s difficult to properly articulate all of the memories I’ve made at camp. Relating my experiences to my friends and family since I’ve been home seems to almost cheapen the activity or make it seem even more surreal than it already feels. We spent our afternoons crick-dippin’, Lover’s leapin’ and thriftin’ at the local thrift stores, but just saying that doesn’t let you feel the cold water of the leap after a five-hour day in the field or laugh at the strange variety of souvenirs we found in Quincy shops. Looking through the lens of real life, these seem like activities that you could do anywhere and with anyone. But sharing those memories with the beautiful individuals I was lucky enough to meet this summer made it an experience that I can never forget.
I first heard about Forestry Camp from various friends in the College of Natural Resources, who raved about the amazing food, the weekend adventures and the general debauchery that usually occurs when large groups of college students congregate. Sure, I thought, this would be an opportunity to have the camp experience I never received as a child, a time to make great friends and maybe learn a few things about trees. What I didn’t realize at the time was how meaningful those eight weeks would be in molding my future aspirations and providing a platform for clarifying my passions and talents. Not to mention the eight weeks of giggle fests, late night fires and inside jokes that have made me doubt my ability to assimilate back into faced-paced city living. Now, as I get ready to move into my apartment and start my senior year of college, I’m so proud that I took that initial jump of faith in applying for camp.
What I learned this summer is that whether it’s a difficult class, a university-accredited forest camp in the summer or committing to Ultimate Frisbee, trying new things can have some great rewards. And, as college students, what better time is there than now to start exploring?
- Author: Jaime Adler
The Northern California Prescribed Fire Council held its eighth biannual meeting on April 25-26, 2013 at UC’s Hopland Research and Extension Center (HREC). Over 110 people attended the meeting, which featured a wide range of research and management presentations on prescribed fire-related topics. Meeting attendees included federal, state, and local agency personnel; ecologists and researchers; fire safe council representatives; private landowners and ranchers; tribal representatives; high school, undergraduate, and graduate students; and more! As usual, the Council meeting highlighted the diversity and passion of northern California’s prescribed fire community. As one meeting attendee commented on their evaluation form, “I frequently reference examples and discussions from these meetings—they are a great place for applied integration of research, policy, and management, as well as meeting people with converging interests.”
The meeting brought in a number of exciting presenters, including featured speakers Ken Pimlott, Director of CAL FIRE, and Sarah McCaffrey, Researcher with the US Forest Service Northern Research Station in Chicago. Other presenters included Dennis Martinez of the Indigenous Peoples’ Restoration Network, Bob Keiffer of the Hopland Research and Extension Center, Malcolm North of the USFS Pacific Southwest Research Station, Scott Stephens of UC Berkeley, Dave McLean of CAL FIRE, and several other pioneers in the art and science of prescribed fire. The group spent one day in the HREC’s new Rod Shippey conference building, and they spent the second day visiting burn units and research sites throughout the 5,000+ acre property.
The Northern California Prescribed Fire Council formed in fall of 2009 with the mission of providing a venue for dialogue and collaboration around prescribed fire. The Council holds public meetings twice a year in different parts of the north state. Previous meetings have taken place in Arcata, Chico, Tahoe, Redding, and Berkeley, among other locations. Council meetings always feature presentations by fire scientists and managers, with an emphasis on the challenges and opportunities relevant to each meeting location. The Council also has sub-committees that work on training, communications, policy, and other prescribed fire-related issues throughout the region.
- Author: Mary Lou Flint
- Posted by: Susie Kocher
UC IPM released a new Pest Note in January 2013 on the goldspotted oak borer. This Pest Note has the first official UC guidelines for managing the pest.
The most seriously damaged oaks are those in the red oak group including coast live oak, Quercus agrifolia, and black oak, Q. kelloggi. It also infests canyon live oak, Q. chrysolepis but has not been found to kill the other native oak species in the area, the Englemann oak, Q. englemanni. So far losses have been most serious in parks and forested areas, but landscape trees are also being killed.
A new Pest Note from the UC IPM program outlines management guidelines for this serious pest. Flatheaded borers such as GSOB are difficult to manage and seriously infested trees cannot be saved. The primary way GSOB spreads into new areas is through the movement of infested wood and the authors recommend leaving infested wood on site for 2 years. If wood is to be moved, the Pest Note provides guidelines for treating it through containment, grinding, and debarking. Guidelines for replanting infested areas, less susceptible oak species, biological control, insecticide applications and developing GSOB management plans are also described.
Many other borers attack oaks but do not kill trees. GSOB infested trees can be distinguished by the characteristic D-shaped emergence holes it leaves behind. A special feature of the Pest Note is a table illustrating the emergence holes of borer species on southern California oaks. Many photos are also included.
The information in this Pest Note: Goldspotted Oak Borer is based primarily on research studies by the authors: Mary Louise Flint (UCIPM and Entomology/UC Davis), Tom Coleman and Steve Seybold (USDA/US Forest Service), and Mike Jones (Entomology/UC Davis). Find it at http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74163.html