- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Wildfire has become more frequent and intense in California with climate change. To meet the challenge of wildfire, UC ANR has hired several new UC Cooperative Extension fire advisors and staff to study issues related to wildfire and to assist Californians with their preparations. Quinn-Davidson and the Fire Network will provide critical coordination and connection across geographies and disciplines ranging from forestry to food safety to livestock to water quality.
“Lenya has more than a decade of work in fire science and has carried out her work through partnerships and community engagement,” said Glenda Humiston, UC vice president of agriculture and natural resources. “Her experience and successful track record will enhance how we coordinate our many layers of research and education related to fire prevention, recovery, public policy and workforce development.”
Quinn-Davidson has served as a UC Cooperative Extension fire advisor for the North Coast since 2016. During her three-year term as the Fire Network director, she will continue her research program and continue to build capacity among landowners, tribes and other communities to use prescribed fire throughout the state. Quinn-Davidson also leads the national/international WTREX program, focused on empowering women and other underrepresented people who work in fire.
“I'm honored to take on this new role, and I can't wait to further grow, connect and support our fire efforts within UC ANR,” Quinn-Davidson said.
UC ANR's Fire Network will also enhance communication.
“The network will increase the flow of information to improve how we conduct academic research, strengthen local efforts by sharing relevant data and ideas, create and build capacity for different management techniques and tools, and facilitate new research and programming related to diverse facets of fire in California,” said Deanne Meyer, UC ANR interim associate vice president.
Before becoming a UCCE fire advisor, Quinn-Davidson worked on fire projects for five years as a UCCE staff research associate. Since 2009, she has served as director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council. Prior to joining UC Cooperative Extension, she was a research assistant in the Wildland Fire Laboratory at California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt and worked on stream restoration for Bioengineering Associates, Inc.
She earned a master's degree in social science, environment & community from Cal Poly Humboldt and a bachelor's degree in conservation and resource studies from UC Berkeley.
Quinn-Davidson, who has published more than 70 peer-reviewed and popular articles, will be based in Humboldt County. Follow her on Twitter @lenyaqd.
The loss of oak woodlands in California's North Coast is a critical conservation concern because it is associated with losses of biodiversity and wildlife habitat, range values, cultural resources, and other oak-dependent ecosystem services. In the absence of natural disturbances like fire, conifers can outcompete deciduous oaks and eventually the oaks die. In recent years, the effects of conifer encroachment on oaks have become a focal point for UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, which has conducted important research on oak woodland conservation in Humboldt and Mendocino counties.
“UC ANR research has shown that conifer encroachment is threatening oak woodlands throughout the North Coast. This project is really exciting because it will give landowners the resources they need to restore their oak stands — resources that haven't been there in the past,” said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, UC ANR Cooperative Extension staff research associate, who led development of the project proposal.
Oak woodland restoration requires removing conifers from oak stands with prescribed fire or by cutting down the conifer trees.
“The North Coast Oak Woodland Conservation Project will provide technical guidance and resources for landowners who wish to restore or conserve their oak woodlands, and foster a strong alliance of organizations and agencies who can continue oak woodland conservation efforts into the future,” said Quinn-Davidson, who is based in Eureka.
For more information about the project or funds for oak conservation activities on private lands, contact Quinn-Davidson at firstname.lastname@example.org and (707) 445-7351.
The North Coast Oak Woodland Conservation Project was one of six projects in California selected for Regional Conservation Partnership Program funding. The funded projects focus on a range of issues, including bird habitat, climate change and forest health. The program, which is funding 84 projects totaling $220 million nationwide, is highly competitive, requiring strong partnerships that address critical conservation issues.
"We are excited and energized by these new projects that bring together a diverse mix of partners to improve California's ecosystems and landscape," said Carlos Suarez, Natural Resources Conservation Service state conservationist. "It is very powerful to be able to engage in partnerships that embrace both agricultural and environmental interests and perspectives—and find collaborative ways of making progress on critical issues."
Partners in the North Coast Oak Woodland Conservation Project include University of California Cooperative Extension, CAL FIRE, the Watershed Research and Training Center, the North Coast Regional Land Trust, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Mattole Restoration Council, Yager/Van Duzen Environmental Stewards, and the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District.