- Author: Grace Dean
As California grapples with more frequent catastrophic wildfires, the newly established UC ANR Fire Network plays an integral role in providing and advancing science-based solutions and delivering useful tools throughout the state. Recently, the Fire Network hosted an immersive field tour for California legislative staff in collaboration with Berkeley Forests to demonstrate their work in ongoing fire and forestry research.
“We have such a rich network of fire experts and thought leaders within UC ANR,” said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, Fire Network director. “It was great to have everyone in one place, thinking about how we can best inspire and empower positive change through our research, education, outreach, policy and training.”
During the Nov. 17 tour at Blodgett Forest Research Station, UC ANR staff and academics shared their research and experiences with a diverse group of legislative staff. The tour provided an opportunity for scientists and policymakers to connect over shared goals of addressing California's growing wildfire and forest management challenges.
Legislative staff members included Rita Durgin, legislative aide for Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry; Spencer Street, legislative director for Assemblymember Vince Fong; Byron Briones, legislative aide for Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez; Emily Watson, legislative aide for Assemblymember Joe Patterson; Les Spahnn, legislative director for Senator Bill Dodd; Tammy Trinh, policy consultant for Senator John Laird; and Catherine Baxter, consultant for the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee.
Sitting on 4,000 acres of Sierra forestland, Blodgett Forest Research Station is the flagship site for research within the Berkeley Forests network. The in-person visit gave attendees the opportunity to learn about the different forest management approaches practiced at Blodgett and understand the importance of maintaining research forests across the state.
“We need research facilities like Blodgett,” Yana Valachovic, UC Cooperative Extension forestry advisor, told the group. “It's a way to ask these questions [about forest management].” The research questions answered through experiments at Blodgett have implications that reach beyond the station's boundary, which was demonstrated to tour guests over three tour stops.
UC Cooperative Extension forestry specialist and Berkeley Forests co-director Rob York led the four-hour tour, where visitors could view different forest management treatments and heavy equipment used for treatment, and learn firsthand about UC-led collaborative research projects.
‘Can you run through it? Can you see through it?'
Tour guests joined York at the first stop, a stand (a group of trees of similar age and size) that has not seen treatment by humans for over 60 years. This first stop was a glimpse at what an unmanaged forest looks like through a forester's or wildfire scientist's eyes. Small trees, less than a few feet tall, clustered under a dense overstory, can facilitate a wildfire's quick movement from forest floor to tree canopy. Close clusters of trees make it much easier for fires to burn across a stand, and the spongy layer of duff underneath the guests' feet burns hot when conditions are dry. These stand conditions, coupled with an abundance of downed woody material, can lead to intense fire behavior when conditions are hot and dry.
Leading California wildfire scientist and UC Berkeley professor Scott Stephens said, “Taking stands that look like this into the future with climate change…is nothing less than a trainwreck.” He and York emphasized that a forest's odds of persisting through wildfires are greatly increased when fuel loads are reduced and forests are thinned. York introduced his measure for healthy forest density, suggesting that guests ask themselves: “Can I run through it? Can I see through it?” the next time they visit a forest.
This is not to say that all fire is bad for a forest. Fire is a part of a healthy forest ecosystem and has been for thousands of years, thanks to natural ignitions from lightning and Indigenous stewardship and cultural practices.
The second stop on the tour was a stand where the overstory (canopy) had been thinned, but the surface fuels were not treated with prescribed fire. York explained that solely thinning a forest was not the answer, and that the best treatment would merge prescribed fire and overstory thinning treatments. In fact, a primary facet of the Fire Network's goals has been to increase the number and strength of community-based Prescribed Burn Associations (PBAs). Since 2017, 24 PBAs have formed throughout California and they greatly increase community capacity for prescribed fire in both forested and non-forested ecosystems.
Eating broccoli before dessert?
The tour ended at a stand that had seen both thinning and prescribed fire treatments. It is part of an experiment comparing prescribed fire emissions to wildfire emissions. Another fuels management experiment happening at Blodgett studies livestock grazing as a tool to manage live fuel loads. This project is a collaborative effort between UCCE livestock advisor Dan Macon, Fire Network coordinator Katie Low, and other ANR advisors and specialists. The effort exemplifies the way wildfire demands attention and innovation from outside the fire and forestry fields.
Macon and Low are examining the efficacy of goat grazing and its implications for animal health at Blodgett. This entails seeing how they can encourage goats to graze unfamiliar vegetation. Likening it to human behavior, Low asked the group, “If it was late at night, and you're craving a snack, which would you eat first: a bowl of steamed broccoli? Or your favorite dessert?” The goats that Macon and Low monitor clearly fill up on their “dessert” first and need extra encouragement to graze the woody vegetation, requiring more intervention on the herder's part. Through these glimpses into their research, Macon, Low and York demonstrated to the group that researchers are taking many approaches to help increase the state's wildfire resilience.
Sitting at a critical point of both research and application, UC ANR staff were able to give visitors their unique perspective on the topics of climate change, prescribed burning and forest management on this tour.
York, Stephens and Fire Network members maintained that California policy is moving in the right direction, but encouraged legislative staff to cease measuring impact through one lens. “It's not just about how many acres have been treated,” Stephens emphasized. “It's about impact. It's about changing the direction of the forest.”
- Author: Yana Valachovic, UC Cooperative Extension Advisor
A wildfire shockwave recently hit California. Maybe you missed it. While there were no large wildfires threatening homes, and the air wasn't thick with smoke like in the Northeast from the wildfires in Canada, a shockwave did hit.
State Farm, California's largest home insurance company, issued an emergency declaration. As I write this, I note that my homeowner's policy is with State Farm, and while this may not affect me today, it could affect me when I choose to sell my home or buy a new one.
State Farm announced they will stop issuing new home insurance policies. Allstate issued a similar policy last year. These actions, in essence, shrink the available pool of insurers in California and are a very troubling sign for all of us. Furthermore, this action may significantly lengthen the time it takes to sell or buy a home in California or may affect our long-term ability to sell in the future and capture the financial values we have in our properties.
The loss of over 43,000 structures to wildfire over the last 10 years has not gone unnoticed by the insurance industry. Increasing fire hazards and skyrocketing costs to rebuild has everyone on notice that business-as-usual is not working.
California's policymakers and the Insurance Commissioner have their hands full with structuring the insurance market, creating a market that manages risk and attracts a diversified pool of insurance carriers, stabilizing insurance availability and affordability, and supporting the real estate sector of California's economy.
As a member of the state's Risk Modeling Workgroup, I can tell you that many approaches are being debated to address our challenges, including 1) allowing reinsurance calculations to be a part of insurance rates, 2) finding other ways to fund the Fair Plan (California's insurance plan of last resort), and 3) allowing catastrophe models to forecast risk in order to better anticipate future losses. With the passage of Proposition 103 in 1988, rate setting has been driven by past claims experience. Most suggest that future losses are likely to be significantly worse than past losses.
On July 13, the California Insurance Commissioner will hold a public hearing on whether rates should utilize catastrophe models that can account for anticipated climate changes and risk mitigation actions taken by property owners. Further, the state's Risk Modeling Workgroup will issue a report on this topic later this summer.
While these approaches are nuanced and complicated to understand, there are many actions that property owners can take to protect the value of their properties and mitigate risks.
Given this period of insurance instability, the best action property owners can take is to understand and mitigate wildfire risks. Reducing fuels, improving defensible space, and hardening the exterior of their structures to heat, flame and ember exposures will help to entice insurance companies to underwrite your property, enhance the ability to sell the property, and improve the odds of the building surviving future wildfires. By marketing the value of these actions, just like the remodeled kitchen or other property upgrades that attract homebuyers, you can market your asset to future insurance companies and buyers. Proactive actions, like upgrading vents, are a key part of the solution.
AB 38 (2019) started this process by mandating that the seller of a property disclose to the future buyer defensible space actions that have occurred for properties in Very High and High Fire Hazard Severity Zones. In 2025, these disclosures need to include home hardening actions based on an established low-cost retrofit list. Over time, these actions are likely going to become key for the negotiation of price and potentially the closure of the sale.
Independent assessment of preventive actions may also be helpful. The Safer From Wildfires program was established in 2023 to help promote insurance discounts for the voluntary adoption of wildfire mitigation actions; in my opinion, it could be used as an insurability assessment as well. Another option is to consider the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety's Wildfire Prepared Home designation. Helping your community think through the issues and take collective action to meet a Firewise designation is another approach to consider.
More information about home hardening and defensible space can be found at UC Cooperative Extension's Fire website. And if you need help navigating a recent insurance cancellation, United Policyholders, a consumer rights advocacy organization, has helpful resources.
Wildfire adaptation will not occur overnight, but I believe we have a pathway and clear evidence to demonstrate that these types of specific actions will help all of us live successfully with wildfire in California now and into the future.
- Author: Yana Valachovic, UC Cooperative Extension forestry advisor
As we prepare for wildfire in 2023, we reflect on what we learned from the 2022 fire season. From a statistical point of view, fewer acres were burned, and fortunately, fewer lives and homes were lost. Less than 400,000 acres were burned, a sevenfold reduction from 2021. On a similar note, less than 1,000 structures were destroyed by wildfire, representing a fourfold reduction from 2021. Those are significant changes, but as I reflect on my experience studying the vulnerabilities in our communities to wildfire, sadly, I need to share that “we're not out of the woods yet,” so to speak, but the formula for success is becoming clearer.
Recently, I worked with great colleagues to evaluate factors contributing to home loss in the town of Paradise during the Camp Fire. In that experience, we learned that the condition of the community of nearby homes has a significant impact on an individual building's survival. In our research, we found that the strongest predictor of loss was attributed to the distance to the nearest destroyed structure, especially if the destroyed building was within 50 feet. That means if a home succumbs to wildfire, it affects the survival of neighboring homes. That lens helped me look for patterns in 2022's wildfire season.
Fences create a wildfire path
I started 2022 in Boulder, Colorado, at the Marshall Fire. Many may remember that on Dec. 30, 2021, a wildfire challenged our views of when the fire season is deadliest. We were ready to welcome the new year and wildfire was furthest from our minds when several fires ignited during a significant wind event (the cause has still yet to be determined), and within minutes the fire spread to several communities around Boulder. Propelled by gusts of 115 mph, the fire burned 6,000 acres, and when it finally was suppressed by a snowstorm 12 hours later, it left behind 1,084 destroyed structures, including a hotel, a Target store and one shopping center. In January, two weeks after the fire started, I was privileged to accompany scientists from the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (https://ibhs.org/risk-research/wildfire/ ) and UC ANR's Steve Quarles, UC Cooperative Extension advisor emeritus, to search for clues to help understand why some buildings succumbed and others did not.
The Marshall Fire burned on the east side of the Rocky Mountains, very different from the forested community of Paradise, where visual privacy between homes can be met through trees. During my visit, I saw that the Marshall Fire quickly spread through the region's grasslands and then to homes via a spaghetti of wooden fences.
These fences offer these communities privacy and backyard protections for kids and pets, but also create a pathway for wildfire to travel between homes. More specifically, the burning grass came into contact with debris and leaves caught at the base of wooden fences, igniting the fence and creating a pathway to bring fire directly to the house. The burning fence ignited surrounding dry ornamental plants and traveled down the fence line bringing flames directly to the house. Once a home ignited, the winds whipped embers from the burning homes to adjacent homes.
I believe that if the fences been upgraded with a 5-foot section of noncombustible materials or a metal gate attaching the fences to the houses, a burning fence would have been much less likely to damage the home.
Fuel reduction works
Fast forwarding to May, another fire challenged California's view of the fire season. The Coastal Fire burned on May 11, 2022, in Laguna Niguel near the California coast in Orange County. It was a small fire (200 acres) that burned through dense brush known as chaparral and raced up steep slopes to a network of homes that had been managed to withstand wildfire. In the end, 20 homes were lost. During my visit with my colleague Luca Carmignani, UC Cooperative Extension area fire advisor, we observed that the situation could have been much worse.
The community had completed a significant amount of fuel reduction and prevented flames from directly contacting the homes. This is a huge success that should be celebrated. Their weakness, however, was not preparing for the ember cast that came from the burning chaparral. These homes exhibited the classic effect of having the fire burn to the edge of the community and stop. Then 30 minutes later, fire personnel and the media observed puffs of smoke emanating from the roofs of the homes. So, what was the cause?
Embers found ways inside homes
Embers had penetrated the attic vents, found combustible materials, and fire ignited inside these houses. Fortunately, fire personnel were able to contain the damage to the homes at the exposed edge of the canyon rim and prevent a widespread home-to-home tragedy. Had these communities upgraded their vents to resist embers, the odds that these homes would have survived would have greatly increased.
Defensible space adds protection
The Oak Fire in Mariposa County in July provided another interesting lesson. The fire burned 20,000 acres and took 182 structures. A colleague from CAL FIRE shared that homes that had failed their defensible space inspection before the fire were six times more likely to be lost in the Oak Fire.
Defensible space is the modification and reduction of combustible materials and vegetation around a home. This required fuel modification provides a safe place for fire personnel to safely stage to address the approaching wildfire, and it also protects the house from catching fire. We all know this is a good practice; perhaps this data can help underscore its importance in building protection.
Wildfire preparation makes a difference
So, what did 2022 tell us? Simply, the details of wildfire preparation matter. Homes are destroyed by one or a combination of exposures: direct flame touching the building, embers penetrating a building through open windows or porous vents, or the radiant heat from the combustion of nearby fuels or homes leading to window breakage.
As Californians, we must prepare for all three types of exposures. We need to break the pathways of continuity from fences and vegetation to our structures. We need to harden our structures to resist heat and embers. We need to reduce fuels around our homes through the creation of defensible space.
To me, home loss to wildfire is predictable; however, the solutions to reducing home loss are within our sights and, with some tenacity and attention to the details, are within our capacities.
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
[This story was originally published Oct. 4, 2021, and updated Dec. 21, 2022]
In 2018, the Camp Fire destroyed nearly 19,000 structures in Northern California, including most of the town of Paradise. The structures left standing by the conflagration provided researchers an opportunity to investigate how housing arrangement – such as the size of the lot, the distance to a neighboring home, and surrounding vegetation – influenced which homes survived. They also looked at whether changes to the California Building Code in 2008, through the addition of Chapter 7A, improved the chances of homes built in the wildland-urban interface to withstand wildfire.
Both housing arrangement and surrounding vegetation likely influenced the survival of homes during an extreme wildfire, according to new research from the USDA Forest Service and the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources analyzing the Camp Fire aftermath, which will be published Oct. 3 in the journal Fire Ecology.
“Our team found a reason for hope and information that can help Californians, building contractors and policymakers better prepare for future fires,” said co-author Yana Valachovic, University of California Cooperative Extension forest advisor.
The 2008 code, which applied to the city of Paradise, requires the installation of vents that resist flames and embers and other elements that help harden a home to wildfire. This chapter of the California Building Code added requirements for construction materials to California's existing two-zone fuel and vegetation modification guidance, known as “defensible space,” which applies to the vegetation and fuels out to 100 feet from a home.
The researchers found that the age of the home was a significant factor in predicting survival. But the key year wasn't 2008. Improvements in performance happened earlier. Only 11% of single-family homes built in or before 1996 survived, compared with 40% for homes built after 1996. Older homes were, on average, placed closer together and had more overstory tree growth near the home. Overall, the greater the distance between structures, the lower the likelihood of a home being destroyed by the Camp Fire. And the less overstory tree canopy cover, the higher the likelihood of a home surviving.
During a wildfire, structures can be threatened by the flaming front of the fire and by embers that are lofted ahead of the fire and land on fuels such as vegetation or mulch next to the house, igniting new fires. Embers can also enter homes through open windows or vents. Heat radiating from adjacent burning buildings or vegetation can also impact home survival.
In 2022, during a visit to Laguna Niguel after the Coastal Fire, Valachovic saw that defensible space had prevented flames from reaching homes. However, some houses had burned from the inside out after embers penetrated attic vents and ignited combustible materials.
“Despite the unpredictable nature of wildfire, strong associations with home arrangement and overstory vegetation cover indicate home survival is at least somewhat predictable,” said lead author Eric Knapp of the USDA Forest Service. “The silver lining is that this also suggests steps can be taken to substantially improve the odds of homes surviving a wildfire.”
One of the biggest drivers of home loss in the Camp Fire was the heat radiating from the large number of structures that burned. Over 73% of homes destroyed in Paradise had a structure burn within 59 feet. The distance to the nearest destroyed structure or total number of destroyed structures within 328 feet was a primary predictor of home loss.
“Exposure to the heat of a nearby burning structure can break glass in a window, for example. Once the glass is broken, embers or flames can enter the house,” said co-author Steve Quarles, emeritus UC Cooperative Extension advisor and retired chief scientist for the Insurance Institute for Building & Home Safety.
This finding suggests that denser developments, built to the highest standards, may protect subdivisions against radiant heat from a vegetation fire, but density may become a detriment once buildings ignite and radiant heat loads increase as well as the increased potential for direct flame contact.
“This research suggests a strong neighborhood effect, where the condition and proximity of an outbuilding or a neighbor's home can have a significant influence on a building's survival given the radiant heat exposure from a neighboring building burning,” Valachovic said.
Tree canopy cover was also associated with home loss, with a higher probability of home survival where tree cover was moderate or less.
“Trees provide shade, which is important where summers are hot. But to have the amenities trees provide without undue fire hazard, the key is to clean up the leaves and dead wood trees produce,” said Knapp. “This includes keeping roofs, gutters, garden beds adjacent to the structure and spaces under attached decks, free of leaves.”
The researchers detected no significant increase in survival for homes built from 2008 to 2018, under the new building code, compared to homes constructed during an equal time period, 1997 to 2007, immediately preceding the adoption of the new code. Houses built during the last two decades resisted wildfire better than older homes, indicating an overall improvement in common construction standards and the performance of building materials.
“It is important for Californians to understand that homes and immediate surroundings need to be well-maintained to resist embers, survive extended radiant heat exposures and minimize direct flame contact,” Quarles said. “Fortunately, all building codes get better with time and Chapter 7A is no exception – Californians have benefited from it. California's Building Code is reviewed every three years, and it is evolving as new knowledge becomes available based on research and post-fire assessments.”
To enhance wildfire protection at the neighborhood scale, the researchers recommend coordinating efforts with neighbors.
“Because ember ignition of one house can put neighboring houses at risk, it is critical that fuel reduction happens at a community scale. Living with fire means doing all things possible to prevent one's house from catching fire,” said Valachovic.
There are simple actions that homeowners can take to protect their homes.
“From retrofitting with vents that resist ember entry or using tempered glass windows, to the simple things, like not placing bark mulch or woody plants next to homes, and using gutter guards to minimize leaf and needle accumulation in gutters, all will improve the chance of home survival,” Quarles noted. “It is a matter of how we choose to live in this environment.”
“Housing arrangement and vegetation factors associated with single-family home survival in the 2018 Camp Fire, California” by Knapp, Valachovic, Quarles and Nels G. Johnson is published in the journal Fire Ecology at https://fireecology.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s42408-021-00117-0.
For more information:
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Joanna Solins joined UC ANR on Oct. 3 as a UC Cooperative Extension environmental horticulture advisor for Sacramento, Solano and Yolo counties.
Solins will focus on research and outreach related to urban plants, landscaping and climate change, while building relationships with county and municipal governments, nonprofits, landscape and tree care professionals, nursery growers and utilities, among others. She also will support the UC Master Gardener coordinators in her assigned counties, collaborating to extend knowledge and resources to community members.
“My core goals are to improve the climate suitability and ecological performance of urban landscaping and promote the equitable distribution of benefits from urban plants,” Solins said.
After attaining a bachelor's degree in environmental studies at Vassar College, Solins began her career leading outreach education programs for the New England Aquarium and writing for educational publishers. She also worked in communications at the Coral Reef Alliance in San Francisco before starting graduate school at UC Davis, which culminated in a master's in geography and Ph.D. in ecology.
Solins' research at UC Davis combined field studies and geographic information system analysis to investigate plant communities, tree canopy and soils along urban creeks in the Sacramento area. She also carried out postdoctoral research on green stormwater infrastructure, urban forest composition, and the water demand of urban vegetation across California, and contributed to projects examining residential landscaping and urban heat in Sacramento.
Solins is based in Sacramento and can be reached at email@example.com or (916) 875-2409.
Stephanie Mar joined UC Cooperative Extension on Oct. 3 as the assistant organic materials management advisor serving Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties. Mar is responsible for investigating ways to divert organic wastes from landfills to alternative end markets, such as circular food economies, composting and wastewater reclamation.
“To me, waste doesn't have an end life, just a next life,” said Mar. “A lot of people don't know what happens to their waste after the garbage truck comes or they flush a toilet, so a part of my job is to understand what we are wasting and what happens to it.”
Mar attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she earned a master's degree in public health focused on environmental science and engineering, and a master's degree in city and regional planning focused on land use and environmental planning. She also has a bachelor's degree in public health from UC Berkeley.
Much of Mar's professional experience, like her time working for the City of Berkeley, is centered on community outreach and policy development, two strengths that she believes will serve her well in this new role.
Previously, Mar worked as a public health analyst for UC San Francisco and as a social research analyst with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services too. Both of which strengthened her understanding of policy and program development, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation.
“Research gives us a lot of information, but then there's a need for translation from what we know to what it actually means,” she said. “There are a lot of people doing different things [to manage their waste], so there's a need for coordination and dispersal of information."
Mar's background in policy development is something she'll rely on to operationalize the research being done by herself and her colleagues.
Behavioral change is one of Mar's anticipated challenges in this role. Even if research and policy efforts yield successful results, encouraging the community to adapt can be an uphill battle.
“Sorting trash, for example, is more of a mental burden than a physical one,” she explained. “We know what the research says and what we need to do, it's just about developing the market to make it happen.”
Mar is based out of Irvine at the South Coast Research and Extension Center and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kristin Dobbin has joined UC ANR and the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at UC Berkeley as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist focused on water justice policy and planning.
Originally from Utah, Dobbin comes to Rausser College from UC Los Angeles' Luskin Center for Innovation, where she was a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow. Dobbin pairs her love for rural communities, community natural resource management and environmental justice organizing with a strong belief that research can and should play an important role in advancing policy. She hopes to leverage her new position, the first of its kind for UC, to uplift community water managers and impacted residents as leaders and experts in conversations surrounding water management and access.
“It's a dream and a responsibility to be assuming a role that so perfectly weds research and impact,” Dobbin tweeted about her new UC Cooperative Extension water justice policy and planning specialist role.
Dobbin earned her Ph.D. in ecology with an emphasis in environmental policy and human ecology from UC Davis and B.A. in environmental analysis from Pitzer College in Claremont. Prior to graduate school, she worked for the Community Water Center – a grassroots environmental justice organization that advances community-driven solutions for water justice in the Central Valley.
Dobbin is based at UC Berkeley and can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @kbdobbin.
Kristen Shive has joined UC ANR and the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at UC Berkeley as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist focused on forest and fuels management.
Bringing more than 20 years of experience in conservation, forest and fire management, and ecology, her work broadly focuses on restoring fire to fire-adapted ecosystems, prioritizing areas for restoration, and understanding shifting fire regimes. Prior to joining UC ANR, Shive led the forest program science team for The Nature Conservancy's California Chapter and was the director of science for Save the Redwoods League. She also has worked for the National Park Service in Alaska, California and Wyoming, most recently as the fire ecologist for Yosemite National Park.
She earned her master's degree in forestry from Northern Arizona University and a Ph.D. in ecosystem science from UC Berkeley.
Shive is based at UC Berkeley and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (630) 917-5170 and on Twitter @klshive.
Kassandra Bacon joined the Nutrition Policy Institute on Oct. 12 as a project policy analyst.
Bacon earned her Master's in Public Health with a concentration in public health nutrition and Graduate Certificate in Food Systems at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and B.S. in nutritional sciences from the University of New Hampshire, Durham.
During her academic journey, she contributed to several research projects pertaining to sustainable food systems, program evaluation, and improvement of public nutrition policy. Additionally, her experience includes program coordination and evaluation, data analysis, and development of communication materials to advance equity-based public health solutions.
At NPI, Bacon will continue to support public health nutrition through policy and program evaluation. She will work on projects related to nutrition and increasing consumption of drinking water and in childcare and universal school meals.
Bacon is based at UC Office of the President in Oakland and can be reached at email@example.com.
Matt Rodriguez joined UC Cooperative Extension on Sept. 5 as a 4-H youth development advisor for Nevada, Placer, Sutter and Yuba counties. As a 4-H advisor, Rodriguez implements extension education and applied research programs grounded in positive youth development theory. He also provides expertise to enhance volunteer engagement in 4-H youth development programs.
Rodriguez earned his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland's School of Public Health in the Department of Family Science. His dissertation, “Influence of Latinx Fathers' Behaviors, Cognitions, Affect, and Family Congruence on Youth Energy Balance-Related Health Outcomes,” investigated Latinx father involvement in the context of youth energy balance-related behaviors. During his doctoral training, Rodriguez also supported several USDA-funded research initiatives involving Latinx fathers and youth. His recent publication, "Predictors Associated with Fathers' Successful Completion of the FOCUS Program,” investigated a sample of fathers in Texas who participated in a child welfare parenting intervention.
Rodriguez currently co-chairs the Men in Families focus group at the National Council on Family Relations. He was also recently elected as Section Counselor for the American Public Health Association's Health Informatics Information Technology section.
Prior to his doctoral studies, Rodriguez was a professional web developer for several large nonprofits in the Midwest. Growing up in a multicultural family with ancestry deriving from Puerto Rico, Japan, Nigeria and England, he embraces the importance of cultural diversity and competency in his family science research.
Rodriguez is based in Auburn and can be reached at (530) 889-7391 and firstname.lastname@example.org and on social media @MattR_Rodriguez.
Breanna Martinico joined UC Cooperative Extension as a Human-Wildlife Interactions Advisor on July 5. She will work on issues that involve wildlife as agricultural pests and beneficial species. She will be conducting a needs assessment to learn about priority issues in Napa, Lake and Solano counties.
Martinico is a wildlife biologist and ecologist, specializing in ornithology. Her past research addressed the role of birds on farms as pests and pest control agents. She has worked on projects investigating the important role farmland plays as habitat for California birds. In other work with the USDA Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, she investigated the implications of agricultural land-use and pest management practices on raptor ecology and conservation.
Martinico is a UC Davis graduate with a B.S. in wildlife fish and conservation biology, MS in avian sciences, and has nearly completed her Ph.D. in ecology.
Martinico is compelled by the co-existence and mutual benefits of humans and wildlife in agroecosystems and is committed to working to find solutions that benefit both people and wildlife. She is excited to be part of UC ANR where she can develop a research and extension program that has the power to increase knowledge and adoption of management practices that promote ecological sustainability and increase farm viability in California.
Martinico is based in Napa and can be reached at email@example.com or (707) 253-4141.
Forest Stewardship Education Initiative wins award
UC ANR's Forest Stewardship Education Initiative received the national Family Forest Education Comprehensive Program Award from the National Woodland Owners Association and the National Association of University Forest Resources Programs.
The award is shared by the UC ANR forestry team which includes co-principal investigators: Susie Kocher, UCCE forest and natural resources advisor for the Central Sierra; Mike Jones, forestry advisor for Mendocino, Lake and Sonoma counties; and Kim Ingram, Forest Stewardship Education Initiative academic coordinator.
Other UC ANR forestry team members include Yana Valachovic, UCCE forest advisor for Humboldt and Del Norte counties; Ricky Satomi, forestry and natural resources advisor for Sutter, Yuba, Placer, Nevada and Butte counties; Ryan Tompkins, UCCE forest and natural resources advisor for Plumas, Sierra and Lassen counties; Rob York, UCCE specialist and co-director of Berkeley Forests; Bill Stewart, UCCE specialist emeritus; Rachelle Hedges, Berkeley Forests project and policy analyst; and Ariel Roughton, Berkeley Forests research stations manager.
The initiative – developed in 2019 as a project through input by the Forest Landowner Education and Outreach Working Group of the California Governor's Forest Management Task Force – is focused on educating private forest landowners to better understand, manage and protect their forests by developing a forest management plan, engaging with natural resource professionals, and taking advantage of cost-share opportunities that can help them meet their management goals.
The program was implemented using three-day forest stewardship workshops prior to COVID-19 and an educational construct involving self-study in advance of online sessions with resource educators during the pandemic.
Currently the program involves nine weekly online sessions and one in-person field day. Completion of the workshop series entitles participants to an initial site visit by a resource professional. To date, 335 individuals attended, with 98% indicating improvement in the understanding of forest management planning, 89% planning to consult with a professional, and through May 2022, 49 participants have had site visits from professionals using the program's $800 stipend that supported the visit.
Evaluators felt that the sessions reflected “Excellent submission and programming,” and that it was “Highly complementary that personnel follow-up with participants AFTER the program to determine impacts cited.” Some were also impressed when recognizing the narrative that program managers would like to reach more private landowners about participating in the program using a benefit/barrier assessment.
One evaluator commented, “This is a very high-quality program. It easily rates very high in each of the criteria categories. The nomination package was thorough and it is evident that those involved in the development and delivery of these workshops are knowledgeable and passionate about landowner and professional education. Kudos to California!”
“Our funder CAL FIRE was so pleased with the program that they funded an expansion starting in 2022, which includes additional field days for people not in the workshops, and additional outreach to broad audiences across the state,” Kocher said. “We have funding for two community education specialists and a communications person, which are under recruitment.”
The award was presented on Sept. 22 at the 2022 Society of American Foresters national convention in Baltimore, Maryland.
Leslie Roche, UCCE rangeland management specialist, received on Oct. 6 the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Partnership Award for Multi-State Efforts on behalf of the National Connections Team for Forest and Rangeland Resources.
The certificate reads, “NIFA recognizes the National Connections Team for Forest and Rangeland Resources, based at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, for developing a webinar series around Renewable Resources and Extension Act critical issues. The team's goal for the webinar series was to strengthen RREA programming by increasing renewable resource Extension and outreach professionals' capacity to provide scientific and technologically relevant content. It showcased innovative programming developed by forest and range professionals from Land-grant universities across the nation. Evaluations showed the series had both national and global appeal. Additionally, the webinar series were influential with participants indicating that they had learned ways to enhance their own programming.”
The multi-state team was led by Mark Thorne (University of Hawaii-Manoa) and Barb Hutchinson (Rangelands Partnership/University of Arizona) and includes Kris Tiles (University of Wisconsin), Retta Bruegger (Colorado State University), Adam Downing (Virginia Tech), Sheila Merrigan (Rangelands Partnership/University of Arizona), Martha Monroe (University of Florida), Dave Bogner (University of Arizona), Elise Gornish ( University of Arizona), and Roche.
The web-based conference series can be viewed at https://globalrangelands.org/rreasp/webinars.
4-H receives national recognition
At the National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals annual conference, UCANR 4-H was recognized. Fe Moncloa, 4-H advisor for Santa Clara County; Martin Smith, UCCE specialist; Charles Go, former 4-H advisor for Contra Costa County; and Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty, statewide 4-H Youth Development director and interim director of County Cooperative Extension, received awards for 25 years of service to the organization. JoLynn Miller, 4-H youth development advisor, received the distinguished service award for 7 to 15 years of service to NAE4-HYDP. Stephanie Barrett, 4-H community education supervisor for Southern California, received an achievement-is-service award for serving 3 to 7 years.