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

Posts Tagged: Yana Valachovic

UC ANR scientists contribute to California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment

The California Natural Resources Agency released California's Fourth Climate Change Assessment today (Monday, Aug. 27), at http://www.ClimateAssessment.ca.govUC Agriculture and Natural Resources scientists contributed substantially to the report.

The Fourth Assessment is broken down into nine technical reports on the following topics:

  • Agriculture 
  • Biodiversity and habitat 
  • Energy 
  • Forests and wildlife 
  • Governance 
  • Ocean and coast 
  • Projects, datasets and tools 
  • Public health 
  • Water 

The technical reports were distilled into nine regional reports and three community reports that support climate action by providing an overview of climate-related risks and adaptation strategies tailored to specific regions and themes.

The regional reports cover:

  • North Coast Region 
  • Sacramento Valley Region 
  • San Francisco Bay Area Region 
  • Sierra Nevada Region 
  • San Joaquin Valley Region 
  • Central Coast Region 
  • Los Angeles Region 
  • Inland South Region 
  • San Diego Region 

The community reports focus on:

  • The ocean and coast 
  • Tribal communities 
  • Climate justice 

All research contributing to the Fourth Assessment was peer-reviewed.

UC Cooperative Extension ecosystem sciences specialist Ted Grantham – who works in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley – is the lead author of the 80-page North Coast Region Report.  Among the public events surrounding the release of the Fourth Assessment is the California Adaptation Forum, Aug. 27-29 in Sacramento. For more information, see http://www.californiaadaptationforum.org/. Grantham is a speaker at the forum.

Other UC ANR authors of the North Coast Region Report are:

  • Lenya Quinn-Davidson, UC Cooperative Extension area fire advisor for Humboldt, Siskiyou, Trinity and Mendocino counties 
  • Glenn McGourty, UC Cooperative Extension viticulture and plant science advisor in Mendocino and Lake counties 
  • Jeff Stackhouse, UC Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor for Humboldt and Del Norte counties 
  • Yana Valachovic, UC Cooperative Extension forest advisor for Humboldt and Del Norte counties

UC Cooperative Extension fire specialist Max Moritz contributed to sections of the main report on Forest Health and Wildfire and to the San Francisco Bay Area Report

UC ANR lead authors of technical reports were:

  • Economic and Environmental Implications of California Crop and Livestock Adaptations to Climate ChangeDaniel Sumner, director of UC ANR's Agricultural Issues Center 

  • Climate-wise Landscape Connectivity: Why, How and What NextAdina Merenlander, UC Cooperative Extension specialist 

  • Visualizing Climate-Related Risks to the Natural Gas System Using Cal-AdaptMaggi Kelly, UC Cooperative Extension specialist 
Dan Stark, staff research associate  for Humboldt and Del Norte counties, contributed to the pest section of Fuel Treatment for Forest Resilience and Climate Mitigation: A Critical Review for Coniferous Forests of California.
Posted on Monday, August 27, 2018 at 3:23 PM
  • Author: Jeannette Warnert
Focus Area Tags: Environment

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
Tags: wildfire (4), Yana Valachovic (14)

Community invited to explore redwood issues in Eureka Sept 13-15

Foresters, landowners, managers, community and conservation groups, land trustees, scientists and policymakers will meet Sept. 13 to 15 in Eureka for the 2016 Coast Redwood Science Symposium.

The symposium, which first convened in Humboldt County in 1996, will feature 70 speakers, 25 poster presentations and three field trips to explore the redwood forests of the North Coast.

“The general public may be interested in attending this conference because it provides a look at the current state of redwood forest management,” said Yana Valachovic, University of California Cooperative Extension forest advisor for Humboldt and Del Norte counties. “This symposium will allow attendees to learn more about how forests are managed today and see the tremendous changes in both private and public land management.”

From Brookings, Ore., to Big Sur, redwoods grow in a variety of habitats and conditions. On the field trips, participants will get to see both conservation and industrial aspects of old growth and timber forests.

One tour will visit the City of Arcata Community Forest. Community members use the actively managed forest on a daily basis.

A lot can be learned from both private and public land-management strategies and it is critical that the policies and strategies guiding use and management within the redwood region be reviewed and updated based on objective, scientific information, said Valachovic.

“We will discuss changes in milling, manufacturing and energy-producing facilities within the redwood range,” said Valachovic.  “Over the last 20 years, there has been a great reduction in these facilities and this comes with a cost because the same infrastructure that supports lumber manufacturing also supports restoration activities.”

In the wake of several catastrophic wildfires this summer, it has been widely publicized that drought, disease and insects have killed more than 66 million trees in California. One place to dispose of dead trees is biomass power plants, which burn low-value forest materials to generate energy for homes and businesses. At the symposium, participants will discuss the impact of recent closures of bioenergy or biomass power plants

When Californians buy redwood building products, the money circulates locally and provides an economic incentive to steward and conserve local forests, says Valachovic.

On Wednesday, Sept. 14, three full-day tours are offered:

  • North Tour. Redwood National and State Parks and Green Diamond Resource Company will highlight redwood thinning practices. The tour will travel north to the Orick area of Redwood National and State Parks to look at restoration forestry practices designed to enhance structural diversity of younger even-aged forests. The afternoon will be spent walking in the Korbel area, viewing Green Diamond's commercial thinning of third-growth forests and wildlife management strategies in managed landscapes.
  • Redwood is widely known for its durability and decay resistance.
    Humboldt Bay Tour.  The City of Arcata, the County of Humboldt, and several private landowners will show participants modern conservation and community forestry efforts.  The tour will visit the City of Arcata Community Forest — the oldest community forest in California — where there is active forest management and community members use an extensive trail system through managed stands on a daily basis. The tour will also visit the newly established McKay Community Forest near Eureka and several private properties that practice innovative land management. This tour will showcase uneven-aged redwood silviculture, funding for conservation activities and techniques to maintain social license within a community, and discuss the benefits and liabilities of managing bigger and older trees.
  • South Tour. The tour with Humboldt Redwood Company looks into conservation planning on industrial timberland. In the historic lumber town of Scotia, participants will tour a mill and visit Humboldt Redwood Company's 40,000 gallon freshwater aquarium. In the afternoon, the tour will hear about active forest management and habitat conservation strategies for the protection of endangered species such as the marbled murrelet, northern spotted owl, and coho, chinook and steelhead salmon.

“This symposium will build on the scientific underpinnings from the first redwood symposium held in Arcata in 1996 and the subsequent 2004 symposium in Rohnert Park, and the 2011 symposium in Santa Cruz,” said Valachovic. “Bringing the symposium back to Humboldt is a great homecoming. Much has changed over the last 20 years.”

The 2016 Coast Redwood Science Symposium, sponsored by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, will be held at the Red Lion Inn in Eureka. For more information or to register, visit http://ucanr.edu/sites/Redwood2016.

Posted on Saturday, September 3, 2016 at 1:50 PM

California Assembly approved bill to protect oak woodlands

Encroaching conifers obscure a stand of oak in Redwood National Park.
The California State Assembly passed a bill unanimously that would provide new resources to landowners to halt the encroachment of conifers on oak woodland, reported Hunter Cresswell in the Times-Standard. The bill (AB 1958) must be approved by the State Senate and Gov. Brown before it becomes law.

Oak woodlands are "some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the North West," said UC Cooperative Extension forest advisor Yana Valochovic. "They are preferentially used by a lot of different bird species."

In the past, fires would burn out conifers and underbrush on oak woodland annually, but aggressive fire suppression is enabling them to spread unchecked, crowding out oaks.

Yanachovic is finishing a three-year research project on conifer encroachment, and AB 1958, if passed, would put policies in place so people can get rid of the conifers without jumping through as many bureaucratic hoops as before, the article said.

“It clarifies that the cutting of younger conifers out of oak woodlands does not qualify as conversion of timberlands,” she said.

Posted on Tuesday, June 7, 2016 at 2:21 PM

UC president sees UC research in the real world

Greg Dale shows Napolitano the size of seed oysters. Oysters are nurtured in the nursery until they are roughly the size of a quarter, then moved to the field to grow to market size. Ocean acidification impairs the ability of oyster larvae to produce shell.
Clad in a fluorescent orange life vest, wind whipping through her hair, Janet Napolitano stood on a boat speeding across the slate gray waters of Humboldt Bay toward oyster beds as scientists briefed her. The University of California president traveled from her office in downtown Oakland to see UC's work in a rural community 300 miles to the north.

Although UC's northernmost campus is UC Davis, the region is served by UC Cooperative Extension. The university opened its first Cooperative Extension office in Eureka in 1913, but April 27 marked the first official visit to Humboldt County by a UC president.

“I hope to show the president how local residents benefit from UC Cooperative Extension and to give President Napolitano and Vice President Humiston ideas on how the university may get more involved in solving local challenges,” said Yana Valachovic, UC Cooperative Extension director and forest advisor for Humboldt and Del Norte counties, who organized the tour. 

Through UC's Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program, Deborah Giraud (in blue jacket) hires Native Americans to work on projects.
Creating a healthy food environment

Accompanied by Glenda Humiston, UC vice president for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Napolitano's day began at the Potawot Health Village in Arcata, where United Indian Health Services (UIHS) has a clinic and gardens of more than 35 varieties of fruits, vegetables, and medicinal plants that serve 15,000 people in Del Norte and Humboldt counties. 

Because the rate of diabetes among Native Americans is twice that of non-Hispanic whites, UIHS provides an integrated nutrition education program. The work of  UC Cooperative Extension advisors Deborah Giraud  and Dorina Espinoza and Jessica Conde Rebholtz, nutrition educator for the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), complements UIHS's efforts for  low-income community members.

“In EFNEP, we measure behavior changes over an eight-week program and we have seen positive changes in how people manage their resources. So, we can promote healthy eating within a budget,” said Espinoza. “But unless we have an environment that supports the very changes we're promoting, the habits are difficult to sustain.”

Potawat gardens produce more than 35 varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs.
To encourage healthful eating, Potawot has a farmers market, where they introduce new vegetables such as romanesco and kohlrabi by offering tastings and showing people how to cook unfamiliar vegetables. They also give away plant starts to inspire home gardening.

Rebholtz observed that collaborating agencies offer healthier options for their EFNEP clients and have begun replacing sugary drinks and goldfish crackers with water, fruit and vegetables as children's snacks.

“UC's statewide Nutrition Policy Institute works closely with our county-based Cooperative Extension teams and is doing the research on the effectiveness of these activities so we get this feedback loop that improves the programs,” Humiston noted.

Ensuring food security, health and sustainability are among the goals of UC's Global Food Initiative.

Coast Seafoods crew maintains the larvae in baskets being grown to adult oysters.
Water quality essential to economic activity

On the boat, Coast Seafoods Company manager Greg Dale shucked an oyster fresh from the bay. The former Arizona governor ate the oyster on the half shell.

“It doesn't get any fresher than this,” Dale said.

Dale explained how his company works with UC Cooperative Extension, UC Sea Grant and other businesses and organizations to maintain the water quality in the bay. “We all need excellent water quality for economic activity,” he said.

Dina Moore, who is married to a sixth-generation rancher  in Kneeland and serves on the UC President's Advisory Commission for agriculture, told Napolitano she appreciates the expertise that Cooperative Extension brings from campus as much as the research the advisors provide locally to manage natural resources. “I think the university helps us embrace the reality of being environmentally forward-thinking,” Moore said.

Climate change is one of the challenges that UC is helping Humboldt County businesses address.

Joe Tyburzcy describes how Sea Grant works with shellfish producers.
“Ocean acidification is already having significant impacts on West Coast hatcheries that produce the larval bivalves – oysters, clams and mussels – that are essential to the aquaculture industry,” California Sea Grant Extension scientist Joe Tyburczy told Napolitano. “Ocean acidification impairs the ability of these larvae to produce shell and can decimate the larvae in a hatchery.”

“Lower pH and carbonate saturation makes it more difficult for shellfish to acquire and assimilate carbonate from seawater to make their shells. Larval shellfish are especially vulnerable because of their small size and the fact that their shells are composed of aragonite, a more sensitive form of calcium carbonate,” Dale said. “It can affect their energy budget and survival.”

With the support of university researchers, hatcheries are monitoring the chemistry of seawater with an instrument called a Burkolator. “When the pH, and more importantly carbonate saturation, of seawater decrease to the point that it is harmful to larvae – which can occur during upwelling – hatchery managers can shut off intake pumps or add chemicals to buffer the water,” Tyburczy explained.

“We need someone like Joe to analyze the data and tell us what it means,” said Dale.

From left, Yana Valachovic, City of Arcata Community Forest community board member and UC Berkeley forestry alumnus Russ Forsberg, Napolitano and Humiston.

Forests provide economic and ecological benefits

After the boat ride, Napolitano and Humiston took a walk in the City of Arcata Community Forest, the largest community-owned forest in California. Mark Andre, City of Arcata environmental services director, described how the city works with UC to manage the 2,300 acres of redwoods for timber, wildlife, water quality and to sequester carbon for future generations, while simultaneously providing high-quality recreational opportunities for city residents.

“UC Cooperative Extension is important to us,” Andre said. “Community-based forestry integrates ecological, social and economic strategies. To honor the ecological emphasis we need science to inform our management decisions.

Mark Andre and Karen Diemer presented City of Arcata Forest carbon credits to Napolitano and Humiston to offset their travel.
Valachovic noted that UC Cooperative Extension works with land managers throughout the region on many forest and natural resources issues including recent efforts in oak woodland management.

“This year we were able to coordinate several partners and bring $2.6 million dollars in conservation funding to help landowners restore their oak woodlands,” Valachovic said. “We provide a science, policy, research and educational hub for the region.”

When asked what she found most interesting about the bay and forest visits, Napolitano replied, “There's a relationship from the water to the land to the mountain and forest and there's a lot of science and biology that links those things in terms of how we think about them.”

Napolitano listened to presentations of 4-H projects.
Head, hands, heart and health

In the afternoon, UC 4-H Youth Development Program members and volunteers described for Napolitano and Humiston their projects, which ranged from raising calves to teaching safety in shooting sports to quickly solving a Rubik's cube to making videos and organizing a fashion week.  

“4-H helps us build life skills,” said Molly Crandall, president of Arcata Bottom, California's oldest 4-H club, founded in 1913.

Napolitano lauded the 4-H members and volunteers for their accomplishments, and told them, “Know that through UC, and UC Extension and our Ag and Natural Resources Division, we intend to not only continue supporting 4-H, but doing evermore with 4-H because I think it's a great, great organization.”

At the end of the day, the president thanked all of the tour participants for enlightening her on what UC is doing in Humboldt County. “What I've been listening for today, and looking forward to hearing more about, is what more canthe university do,” Napolitano said. “I truly believe this is a great area of the state of California.”  

Glenda Humiston, a former 4-H member herself, poses with 4-H members in Humboldt County.

Napolitano and Humiston joined in the 4-H pledge 

Related links:

A UC president to visit Humboldt County for first time ever by Marc Vartabedian, the Eureka Times-Standard

Garden Tours with Homeland Security by Grant Scott-Goforth, North Coast Journal

University of California president visits Humboldt County by Taylor Torregano, KAEF-TV 

UC Cooperative Extension in Humboldt County


Posted on Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 4:27 PM

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