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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Local fire resources are now available to the public from UC Cooperative Extension

Editors: A list of UC ANR wildfire experts and contact information is available on the UC ANR website. Additional articles on wildfire research and mitigation can be found here.

UC Agriculture and Natural Resources has local fire recovery and mitigation resources available to the public in wildfire-prone counties.

Links to all the sites have been aggregated on a UC ANR story map - https://arcg.is/0SWyW8. This story map may be freely shared on websites and social media. (Find the share URL and the embed code by clicking the share icon on the upper right hand corner of the story map.)

Local UC Cooperative Extension fire resources websites listed on the story map are:

Northern California

UCCE Central Sierra fire resources

UCCE Mendocino County fire resources

UCCE Sonoma County fire resources

UCCE Sutter-Yuba counties fire resources

Central California

UCCE Mariposa County fire resources

UCCE San Luis Obispo County fire resources

Southern California

UCCE San Diego County fire resources

UCCE Santa Barbara County fire resources

UCCE Ventura County

The following general information on wildfire recovery is available for those who were directly impacted by the wildfire.

Homeowners guide to recovering from wildfire

Landowners guide to recovering from wildfire

Livestock, agriculture and natural resources guide to recovering from wildfire

Don't get burned twice (pdf)

Recovering from wildfire: A guide for California's forest landowners (pdf)

The site also provides information for those whose homes were spared in 2017, but now wish to take precautions to reduce the risk of wildfire damage in the future.

Homeowner's wildfire mitigation guide

Sustainable and fire-safe landscapes

Home survival in wildfire-prone areas (pdf)

Home landscaping for fire (pdf)

Invasive plants and wildfires in Southern California (pdf)

Posted on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 at 11:40 AM

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

Hybrid oak trees muddle identification at California Naturalist Regional Rendezvous

Knowing the names of trees is a point of pride for many California Naturalists. So a walk among the diversity of oaks at the Pepperwood Preserve left many feeling humbled.

The three-hour excursion was part of the UC California Naturalist Regional Rendezvous in October at the 3,200-acre nature preserve nestled in the foothills between Napa Valley and Santa Rosa.

Excursion leader Steve Barnhart, academic director emeritus at Pepperwood, said there are 500 oak species in the world; 21 in California. But cohabitating on the rolling hills and valleys of the Golden State, many oaks have produced hybrids that combine characteristics, making identification challenging.

Steve Barnhart opens the 'Oaks of Pepperwood' excursion during the California Naturalist Regional Rendezvous.

Doctoral candidate Phrahlada Papper, who is studying oak tree genetics, said, “I'm of the mind that you shouldn't ever name an oak.”

Even the tan oak, long thought to be misnamed, is coming under new scrutiny.

“It's not an oak,” Barnhart said. “It has acorns, male and female flowers on the same stalk, but tan oaks are insect pollinated. True oaks are wind pollinated. Tan oaks are closer to chestnuts.”

But Papper raised his hand. “Genetically, it might be an oak,” he said.

Barnhart laughed. “So tan oak is up in the air. That's why it's so much fun to be in science,” he said. “I learned something today.”

Doctoral student Phrahlada Papper discusses oak tree genetics.

In popular culture, oaks are thought to be majestic, towering trees, with wide spreading branches. However, Barnhart said, most California oaks are shrubs, including the leather oak.

Leather oaks grow in serpentine soils and have the ability to produce two types of flowers, one in the spring and another quite different in the fall. Leather oaks are monoecious, they have both male and female flowers on the same plant. On a particular leather oak at Pepperwood, Papper was surprised to find male and female flower parts in one bract and surmised that weather patterns may be responsible.

“California has weird weather and with climate change, it's getting even more weird,” Papper said.

Leather oak details.

Papper believes tracking phenology, the cyclic and seasonal changes in plants, is an ideal citizen science project for California Naturalists. One such project underway at Pepperwood is led by Wendy Herniman. A University of Edinburgh, Scotland, master's student, Heniman is documenting the phenology of 10 Pepperwood oak trees: 2 blue oaks, 3 coast live oaks, 2 black oaks and 3 Oregon oaks.

“Pepperwood is looking at climate change. It's a designated sentinel site. We're monitoring fog, we have soil probes, and we're collecting all weather and climate information. We can tie that to phenology,” she said. “We're trying to find out if phenophases are changing.”

Understanding the changing phenophases is important, Barnhart said.

“Everything is connected,” he said. “If acorns are produced early, animals species that depend on the food source will be disrupted. You have imbalances in the timing of the natural world. With climate change, what are the effects we'll be seeing?”

Wendy Heniman talks about her research near a hybrid Oregon-blue oak.
 
The acorn shape is Oregon oak-like. The leaf contours are blue oak-like. The specimen is evidence of hybridization in oaks.
 
California native poison oak is also found on the Pepperwood Preserve. It is unpopular with humans, but birds like the golden berries.
A 15-year-old Douglas fir was mechanically removed to stop it from crowding a 50- to 60-year-old oak tree, Steve Barnhart said. Fire suppression is giving oak competitors like firs a greater foothold in oak woodlands. "Fire suppression was an unhealthy thing to do," Barnhart said.
Posted on Monday, October 16, 2017 at 1:30 PM

Houses likely burned from the inside out, says UCCE forest advisor

Fire damage from the 1991 Oakland Hills fire. Buildings can burn quickly if embers get inside and fall on flammable materials.

Preventing embers from getting inside may save homes

Photos and video of the Northern California communities that have been hit by wildfires this week show buildings reduced to ash. How could so many homes and businesses burn so quickly in Wine Country fires? Many houses that burned to the ground in the Northern California fires likely burned from the inside out, says Yana Valachovic, UC Cooperative Extension forest advisor for Humboldt and Del Norte counties.

Red hot embers carried on the wind can enter the attic via the venting. “In the case of the wind-driven fires on October 8, these fires created ember storms that blasted little coals into everything in their pathway,” Valachovic said. These embers also create small spot fires near the home that fuel new sources of embers.

Weather played a large role in these fires and generated a fire storm of embers that ignited grass, shrubs, trees and anything in its path. “While the landscape can be the fuse, the homes really can be the most burnable part of the landscape,” Valachovic said. “These embers likely lodged in the small spaces and openings of homes and buildings. A common location is for the embers to enter via attic venting or HVAC systems distributing little fires into the buildings.

“Embers also landed on receptive leaves, outside furniture, and other flammable materials outside the buildings that created fires adjacent to the buildings. Once enough buildings were engulfed in fire, the radiant heat of each building fire led to exposures on the neighboring buildings, creating a house-to-house burn environment.”

Embers carried on the wind can ignite dry plant material like pine needles and create more embers that may enter homes through vents.

Residents can reduce the risk of embers setting their house on fire by removing dry plants around the structure.

“These fires remind us that everyone in California could help the fire situation by managing the vegetation, leaves in the gutters and decks, newspaper piles, brooms and other flammable sources near to their houses now before they get the evacuation call,” Valachovic said. “If you are likely to have to evacuate soon, temporarily covering or sealing up the vents with metal tape or plywood can help harden your home to an ember storm.”

Steve Quarles, UC Cooperative Extension advisor emeritus, who spent his career studying fire behavior on building materials and around homes, created an online Homeowner's Wildfire Mitigation Guide at http://ucanr.edu/sites/Wildfire. Quarles, who now does research for the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, demonstrates how embers can ignite and quickly engulf a house in flames in a video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvbNOPSYyss. After the 3-minute mark, video shows embers drifting up and flying through a screened vent into the house, where they could ignite combustible materials in the attic resulting in fire starting on the inside of the home.

“If you have time to prepare your home, use the wildfire last-minute check list at http://disastersafety.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/IBHS-Wildfire-Last-Minute-Checklist.pdf,” Valachovic said.

Valachovic has co-authored publications in home survival in wildfire prone areas http://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/pdf/8393.pdf and how landscape plants near homes can create more vulnerability to wildfire http://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/pdf/8228.pdf.

Once these fires are extinguished, a more detailed analysis will be possible.

“Past wildfire events have shown that this is the common way homes in the wildland urban interface (WUI) burn, and this scenario was likely translated to the urban environment,” she said.  

Posted on Friday, October 13, 2017 at 10:54 PM

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

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