- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
People raising cattle, sheep, goats, poultry, swine, horses, llamas, alpacas, aquaculture species or other production-oriented animals in California who have experienced at least one wildfire on their property within the last 10 years are being asked to participate in a Fire Impact and Risk Evaluation (FIRE) survey.
“We will aim to quantify the impact of wildfires in different livestock production systems,” said Beatriz Martinez Lopez, director of the Center for Animal Disease Modeling and Surveillance in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. “The idea is also to create a risk map showing areas more likely to experience wildfires with high economic impact in California.
“This economic and risk assessment, to the best of our knowledge, has not been done and we hope to identify potential actions that ranchers can take to reduce or mitigate their losses if their property is hit by wildfire.”
Martínez López, who is also an associate professor in the Department of Medicine & Epidemiology at UC Davis, is teaming up with UC Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisors and wildfire specialists around the state to conduct the study.
The research team includes
- Matthew Shapero, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Ventura County
- Rebecca Ozeran, UCCE advisor in Fresno and Madera counties
- Stephanie Larson, UCCE livestock range management advisor in Sonoma and Marin counties
- Sheila Barry, UCCE livestock and natural resourcesadvisor, in Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties
- Josh Davy, UCCE livestock, range and natural resources advisor in Tehama, Colusa and Glenn counties
- Max Moritz, UCCE wildfire specialist, UC Santa Barbara
- Luke Macaulay, UCCE rangeland planning and policy specialist at UC Berkeley
- Lenya Quinn-Davidson, UCCE wildfire advisor in Humboldt, Siskiyou, Trinity and Mendocino
“The idea came up in a conference in San Diego, just when we had several ongoing wildfires and we were discussing how poorly are some areas prepared for this and the need for better emergency planning, coordination and response when not only people, but also large animals are involved,” Martínez López said. “We hope this study will provide the foundation to advance in this direction.”
“Right now, we have no good estimate of the real cost of wildfire to livestock producers in California,” said Rebecca Ozeran, UC Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor for Fresno and Madera counties. “Existing UCCE forage loss worksheets cannot account for the many other ways that wildfire affects livestock farms and ranches. As such, we need producers' input to help us calculate the range of immediate and long-term costs of wildfire.”
Stephanie Larson, UC Cooperative Extension livestock and range management advisor for Sonoma and Marin counties, agreed, saying, “The more producers who participate, the more accurate and useful our results will be.”
“We hope the survey results will be used by producers across the state to prepare for wildfire,” said Matthew Shapero, UC Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor for Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, “And by federal and private agencies to better allocate funds for postfire programs available to livestock producers.”
The survey is online at http://bit.ly/FIREsurvey. It takes 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the number of properties the participant has that have been affected by wildfire.
“Survey answers are completely confidential and the results will be released only as summaries in which no individual's answers can be identified,” said Martínez López. “This survey will provide critical information to create the foundation for future fire economic assessments and management decisions.”
The team would like your help in encouraging livestock producers who have experienced wildfire to participate in the FIRE survey.
“We are seeking help in this needs assessment regarding animal health concerns on small-scale farms and for peri-urban and urban animal agriculture in California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington State,” said Pires, who is leading the study with Dale Moore of Washington State University and Ragan Adams of Colorado State University.
Peri-urban and urban animal agriculture refers to raising food animals within residential areas with the goal of producing animal products to eat themselves or to distribute locally. The farms included in this study have gross annual sales of less than $500,000 with a maximum of 500 goats or sheep, 100 cows or 100 pigs, or are poultry producers who process or sell fewer than 1,000 chickens per year.
The increasing popularity of local food production and sustainability has boosted interest in small-scale farming and urban animal agriculture.
“This survey aims to identify the needs of livestock and poultry owners related to animal health, animal husbandry and food safety; and the role that veterinarians play on small farms,” Pires said. “This study will serve as a benchmark for designing effective educational programs to train farmers, backyard producers and veterinarians working within this sector.”
The survey takes about 15-20 minutes and can be accessed at http://ucanr.edu/smalllivestocksurvey.
All answers will remain completely confidential and no personal information will be recorded.