In the mid-20th Century, the City of Arcata purchased 622 acres of redwood forest and created the first city-owned forest in California. The current 2,350-acre Arcata Community Forest has a multiple use management plan that focuses on recreation, timber management, and watershed values, among other things. The forest provides tremendous aesthetic value and numerous recreational opportunities to the City of Arcata.
In the late 1990s, the Bureau of Land Management considered a land trade that could have compromised the town of Weaverville’s scenic surroundings. Driven by an appreciation for the forests surrounding their town, the residents of Weaverville sought to be included in the decision-making process. With considerable persistence, the Trinity County Resource Conservation District was able to gain a seat at the same table as the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. The ensuing partnership enabled the collective management of 13,000 acres of land surrounding Weaverville in the form of a community forest.
The advantage of a community forest is that it provides things the community itself identifies as priorities, such as biomass generation, firewood sales, education opportunities, and improved trail systems and access roads. With all of the stakeholders engaged and working toward common goals, community forests provide tangible positive examples of the benefits of collaboration.
By 2008, the Public Interest Energy Research Program (PIER) led by the California Energy Commission (CEC) had collected more than 150 peer reviewed reports on climate change, had funded dozens of researchers and organizations investigating climate change scenarios, and produced thousands of statewide GIS (geographic information system) data layers depicting downscaled climate projections across the state. The agency had a number of needs: they wanted relevant information presented in easy to understand themes and topics, they wanted interactive maps and charts providing a variety of approaches to explore different aspects of climate change; and they wanted improved access to primary climate change data in GIS and tabular formats.
The agency wanted to develop an innovative web based platform to increase access to the wealth of climate change research and data being produced by the scientific community in California. They wanted a platform that addressed multiple types of publics: we wanted to address the general public, who want to learn about climate change data relevant to their area, we wanted to address local planners and technicians, who need to obtain meaningful information and data to help guide locally relevant climate action plans and adaptation strategies, and we wanted to address the scientific community, who need to access primary data relevant to an area of interest.
We at Berkeley’s Geospatial Innovation Facility (GIF) (http://gif.berkeley.edu) worked with the CEC to develop the “Cal-Adapt” analysis platform as an open source, web-based GIS and visualization project. The Cal-Adapt.org website is a new resource for the state of California that: 1) hosts a wealth of GIS data on modeled climate futures, 2) allows users to visualize past and future projected climate layers in a map framework, 3) provides all the data for download. This blog gives you a quick look around the website. Please feel free to explore the site, and your own area.
Cal-Adapt's development is a key recommendation of the 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy: “The California Energy Commission will develop the Cal-Adapt Web site that will synthesize existing California climate change scenarios and climate impact research and to encourage its use in a way that is beneficial for local decision-makers.” – Page 9, 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy.
The Climate Background
Scientists studying climate change usually frame climate discussions in terms of four climate scenarios, of which two had been downscaled for California by Scripps Institution of Oceanography called “B1” - The lower emissions scenario, and “A2” - The medium-high emissions scenario. Scientists use a multitude of different global circulation models, each developed and run at different scientific labs, project how the climate will change under each of these two scenarios. Four of these were models were used by scientists at Scripps and made available to Cal-Adapt:
NCAR - National Center for Atmospheric Research Parallel Climate Model (PCM1);
CCSM - Community Climate System Model Version 3.0 (CCSM3);
GFDL - Geophysical Fluids Dynamic Laboratory (GFDL) CM2.1; and
CNRM - Centre National de Recherches Météorologiques.
Each model uses different assumptions and drivers and can lead to differences in their outputs, so there is an advantage to using a variety of these models when conducting analyses.
Local Snapshot Example: Eureka and Humboldt County, California.
Humboldt County, located in Northwest California, is the southern gateway to the Pacific Northwest. The County is bound on the north by Del Norte County; on the east by Siskiyou and Trinity counties; on the south by Mendocino County and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. The County encompasses 2.3 million acres, 80 percent of which is forestlands, protected redwoods and recreation areas. Humboldt County faces a range of changes to its local climate: temperature, snowpack, fire regimes and sea level. Each of these can be explored with Cal-Adapt Local Snapshot tool.
Changes in Temperature
For example, if you want to explore the temperature changes projected over the next century, you can use our local climate snapshot tool. Figure 1, left, is the projected change in annual average temperatures across in Humboldt County’s under a low carbon emissions scenario (B1). The map above shows the projected difference in temperature between a baseline time period (1961-1990) and an end of century period (2070-2090).
In some areas of California, such as San Bernardino County, the average annual temperature is expected to go up by as much as 4°F (low emission scenario) to 7°F (high emission scenarios; in Humboldt County, temperatures are expected to increase by between 3° F to 5°F (low emission to high emission scenario).
Changes in Snowpack
Figure 2, right, shows the projected changes in April snow water equivalence (SNWE) across Humboldt County under a high carbon emissions scenario (A2). The map shows the projected difference in snow water equivalency between a baseline time period (1961-1990) and an end of century period (2070-2090). According to the projections, in some areas of California, up to 25 inches of snow water are expected to be lost in April over the next century. In Humboldt County, the modeled historical average snowpack is 2.91 in. Under the low-emissions scenario, snowpack is projected to be 88.5% of that amount; under the high-emissions scenario, 98% of snowpack is projected to be lost. These drastic projections are thought to be the results a combination of factors including not only a decrease in preciption, but an earlier melt given warmer temperatures.
Figure 3, left, shows areas vulnerable to a 100 year flood event as sea level rises. The blue areas on the map indicate areas already in threat today, while the lighter shades are areas projected to also be in threat given the expected sea level rise. Humboldt County has a long coastline, with considerable areas of coastal wetlands that might be vulnerable to sea level rise. According to the projections from the Pacific Institute, 18% more land in Humboldt County may be vulnerable to a 100 year flood with a 1.4m sea level rise. 43,067.4 acres are vulnerable now, with a 1.4m sea level rise, 52,607.3 acres could be at risk. Some areas of the state, including the San Francisco Bay Area face increases of up to 40+% in areas vulnerable to sea level rise.
Changes in Fire Regime
Figure 4, right, shows projected increase in potential amount of area burned in 2085, as compared to present risk, across Humboldt County under a low carbon emissions scenario (B1) for the CNRM model. The darker oranges displayed on this map above suggest up to a 3-fold increase in potential area burned. Other areas in California have a higher risk, for example, Siskiyou, Modoc and Shasta Counties have high projected increase in fire risk in the next century. These data and projections come from UC Merced: Climate Applications Lab.
The website allows for sharing with your colleagues in a range of ways. You can create links that save your zoomed map with all its content and visualization choices, and these are shareable through Facebook and other social media projects:
- Sea level:
You can also use many other sharing tools:
- view your map in Google Earth
- Download a table of these results
- Download the source GIS files
- Save this map as an image
- Print a PDF report of this climate information
In addition to the examples above, there are many other data available for visualization and download at the Cal-Adapt.org website. For example, you can view and download monthly layers, from 1950-2099 for the following datasets: Actual evapotranspiration, Average temperature, Baseflow, Fire, Fractional moisture in the entire soil column, Maximum temperature, Minimum temperature, Net surface radiation, Precipitation, Relative humidity, Runoff, Snow water equivalent, Soil moisture at bottom layer, Soil moisture at middle layer, Soil moisture at top layer, and Wind. These data can be downloaded in a range of formats, over any date range, and directly integrated into your own GIS or modeling software package.
The site has been developed by UC Berkeley's Geospatial Innovation Facility (GIF) with funding and advisory oversight by the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program, and advisory support from Google.org. The data used within the Cal-Adapt visualization tools have been gathered from California’s scientific community, and represent the most current data available wherever possible. Learn more about the variety of scientists and organizations that have contributed data and resources to Cal-Adapt. For more information about mapping for a changing California, see Maggi Kelly’s website at: http://kellylab.berkeley.edu.
The Northern California Prescribed Fire Council (NCPFC) is a collaborative group of scientists, land managers, tribes, NGOs, and other organizations and individuals interested in issues surrounding the use of prescribed fire. The goal of this diverse coalition of scientists and managers is to “increase understanding and acceptability of prescribed fire in the public realm, while working together…to improve techniques, increase training opportunities, and ameliorate permitting and other regulatory hurdles” (from NCPFC website).
The council holds two meetings each year in different locations across the north state; the meetings include research and management presentations, as well as field tours of different prescribed fire projects. The upcoming meeting will include presentations by a range of scientists and managers, including Ken Pimlott (CAL FIRE Director), Sarah McCaffrey (USFS Northern Research Station), Dennis Martinez (Indigenous Peoples’ Restoration Network), and others. The second day will include a field tour of the 4,600 acre property and research site.
Prescribed fire councils have formed across the country in the last couple of decades, and when the NCPFC formed in 2009, it joined more than 25 other state and regional councils (see map below). The first prescribed fire council was established in Florida in the 1980s, and more councils are forming every year. Though councils were once unheard of in the western US, they are now becoming more common, and recent years have seen the development of a Washington statewide council (2011) and, just last year, a new council in the southern Sierra Nevada region of California.
Participation in NCPFC meetings continues to grow, and over 100 people attended each of the two meetings in 2012. If you have an interest in fire ecology and management, or if you’d like to incorporate fire into your forest or range management practices, attending this or a future meeting could be well worth your time to 1) network with other folks that share your interests, and 2) learn new techniques and approaches for managing fire and fuels in California.
As a recent participant commented, “the council does an excellent job at bringing together different stakeholders from the fire community in productive interchange. The more collaboration between agencies, researchers, regulators, and the public the better! And on top of that, these meetings are lively and fun - the value of building camaraderie in the fire community should not be underestimated.”
For more information, visit these websites:
- Author: Richard B Standiford
Ryan DeSantis is the new University of California Cooperative Extension Forestry and Natural Resources Advisor for Shasta, Trinity, and Siskiyou Counties. Ryan will be responsible for conducting an extension, education and research program that resolves needs and problems in the fields of forest management and ecology.
Ryan grew up in rural New Hampshire, where he fell in love with hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, skiing, mountain biking, and spending time in the woods of New Hampshire and Maine in general. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Forest Science from the University of New Hampshire and then he spent two years working with a National Park in Bulgaria as an ecological volunteer for the U.S. Peace Corps. When he returned to the U.S., Ryan moved to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where he attended Michigan Technological University and earned his Master’s degree in Applied Ecology. Ryan’s Master’s thesis work involved the post-harvest effects of prescribed fire and mechanical treatment on jack pine forest biodiversity and fuel load. Following graduate school, Ryan worked in a fire ecology laboratory at the University of Massachusetts and on fire crews at Cape Cod National Seashore (Massachusetts) and Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming). After leaving the Tetons, Ryan went back to graduate school and earned his Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University in Natural Resource Ecology and Management with a concentration in forest resources. The goal of Ryan’s Ph.D. dissertation work was to advance the understanding of fire and drought as disturbance forces that determine the species composition and structure of upland oak forests in Oklahoma. Following his Ph.D., Ryan worked as a postdoctoral research associate for the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Forest Futures Project, where he determined the economic and ecological impacts of forest threats to Midwest and Northeast U.S. forests.
Ryan is excited to have the opportunity to work with oak and conifer ecosystems and fire, and to once again be surrounded by mountains and forests. He is also excited to explore the trails of rural Trinity, Siskiyou and Shasta Countie, try hunting black-tailed deer, and fishing on the Sac and Trinity Rivers for the first time.
Ryan is stationed at the University of California Cooperative Extension office in Redding but he expects to spend plenty of time working in Trinity and Siskiyou Counties. His contact information is:
Ryan DeSantis, UC Cooperative Extension
1851 Hartnell Avenue
Redding, CA 96002-2217
The vast majority of trees have roots that interact with below-ground fungi, together forming a 2-species complex known as mycorrhizae. In our study, which was recently published in the journal, Mycologia, we looked at the way roots of giant sequoia seedlings formed mychorrhizae relationships and how that influenced the growth of giant sequoia seedlings. Learning about how giant sequoia seedlings grow is particularly important since seedling establishment in giant sequoia has been below what is needed for long-term sustainability. We found that when we planted giant sequoia seedlings, beneficial fungi would attach on to the seedling’s roots mainly when the seedlings were planted in open sunny conditions. While it was hypothesized that the fungi would not be as common on roots in areas that had been burned, there was no difference between burned and unburned locations. Also interestingly, the beneficial fungi actually seemed to outcompete harmful fungi, thus possibly helping seedlings to avoid other diseases. This mycorrizal interaction between tree and fungus is a potentially important requirement for giant sequoia to grow fast as a seedling, and may be a key ingredient in how it eventually becomes the world’s largest organism.
The triple crown of resources: Light, water, and nutrients
Nature is dominated by individualistic, chaotic, and brutal selfishness. Organisms are hard wired to have a primary goal- to reproduce. Often, plants achieve this goal at the expense of other organisms via a fierce competition for the triple-crown of resources: light, water, and nutrients (it’s a baseball theme today). But sometimes it is in an organism’s best interest to be of assistance to another. Such is the case with mycorrhizae, which is a combination of plant roots and fungi attached to each other (“myco” = fungi; “rhizae” = roots).
Giant sequoia is an interesting species because it is so different than any other in so many ways. The most obvious difference that people know about is its tremendous size- larger than any other tree on earth. But the way that it reaches this size, and in fact its entire “life history strategy” is somewhat of an outlier when you compare it to other tree species. All trees form mychorrhizae, but the way in giant sequoia forms this relationship with fungi also appears to be an outlier. It forms what are known as “arbuscular mycorrizae,” which is uncommon in conifer trees. Beyond that, not much is known about this plant-fungus interaction in giant sequoia, but this study offers some insight.
The primary relevance to landowners and stakeholders might be that this research reminds us that planting a tree and getting it to survive and grow is a complex, ecological process. It is important to understand how planted seedlings survive and grow because planting is something we might be doing a lot more of in forests, as climate change and wildfires become forces that hinder natural regeneration across larger and larger areas. Successfully planting a tree, where the measure of success is getting the tree to complete its life cycle (i.e. to reproduce), involves much more than planting a tree and walking away. It involves understanding the resource requirements for that species, and how that particular tree will be able to make its way up into the canopy to become mature. For giant sequoia, and most other trees, the mutualistic interaction that seedlings will have with root colonizing fungi is key information. This study suggests that planted giant sequoia seedlings have the best chance of success when they are placed in distinct canopy openings in sunny conditions, in part because this is where the mutualistic relationship with fungi can benefit giant sequoia most by helping it to grow quickly into the tall canopy above.
By the way, I think most green campaigns that ask you to pay a little extra so that you can sponsor the planting of tree seedings are scams. I would not advise believing or certainly not paying for such “plant-a-tree campaigns” unless you know the species that is being planted, the location, and the method to be used for tracking survival.
Imagine that giant sequoia is a base runner, where rounding third means going home, which in terms of a tree is equivalent to reaching the canopy and reproducing (and for a person on a date, this is of course equivalent to something similar).
The fungus that forms the mycorrhizae is the third-base coach, hoping to be of some assistance to the base runner but hoping to get something in return (a job).
A base runner doesn’t really need the third base coach, but the third base coach definitely needs the base runner to have a job and make a living. Often the third base coach can be helpful to the runner, but only when things are already going pretty well for the runner. When they are rounding third base, the runner is in pretty good position to score, and the third base coach can help them score. Sometimes, however, the third base can be a hindrance if they get in the way or if they give the runner some bad advice. But usually they are a help. And of course no championship team (such as the Giants) would be without a third base coach.
Get it? Giant sequoia seedlings are happy to have this relationship with fungi, but only when things are already going well. Mycorrhizae were more common on seedlings when they were planted in the open, so there was plenty of carbon for the seedling to spare. It is carbon that is the currency paid by the tree, in return for nutrients like Phosphorous from the fungus. And fungus can also keep the plant out of trouble by fighting off pathogenic fungi, kind of how a third base coach can tell the runner to get back when the pitcher tries to pick them off.
Implications? If you plant giant sequoia, do so in distinct canopy openings and pay attention to how the nursery either sterilized or inoculated the soil. In this case, the nursery had sterilized the soil so the mycorrhizae developed on roots after the seedlings were planted in the field. When you plant far away from a mature forest edge, don’t worry about it taking a long time for fungus to colonize the area- they are probably already there because of lateral roots from surrounding trees.
Fahey, C, RA York, and TE Pawlowska. 2012. Arbuscular mycorrhizal colonization of giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) in response to restoration practices. Mycologia 104(4):988-997.