- Author: Michael Jones
The Mediterranean oak borer (Xyleborus monographus), or MOB, is an invasive ambrosia beetle that was first collected from declining oak trees (Quercus spp.) near Calistoga (Napa County) in 2019 (Fig 1). Subsequently in early 2020, the beetle was detected in the neighboring counties of Lake and Sonoma, and more recently a separate infestation was discovered in suburbs near Sacramento. MOB is native to the Mediterranean regions of Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa and was likely introduced to North America in infested wood material. Within its native range MOB is a pest primarily of dead and dying oaks. In California, MOB has been detected in valley oak (Q. lobata) and blue oak (Q. douglasii). Given the cryptic nature of the insect, the extent of the infestations, and presence of dead trees with evidence of the beetle, the insect has likely been in California for more than five years.
Ambrosia beetles are interesting insects because they carry symbiotic ambrosia fungi which they cultivate along their galleries (boring tunnels) for food. Most ambrosia fungi are weak pathogens (typically only colonizing the tissue near the galleries), but a fungus associated with MOB, Raffaelea montetyi, appears to cause wilt disease in cork oaks in Portugal. This fungus and several others associated with MOB, have been recovered from infested trees in California and research is underway to determine if these ambrosia fungi could cause similar diseases in North American oak species.
MOB appears to initially attack the canopy of host trees where it kills branches, with persistent infestations spreading to the main stem and eventually killing the tree (Fig. 2). The extensive network of MOB galleries can weaken trees and make them more susceptible to failure. Thus far, trees in California with MOB infestations appear to have been stressed by other biotic and abiotic factors prior to MOB colonization, so it is unclear if the insect and its ambrosia fungi can infest and kill healthy trees.
Signs of MOB infested trees are declining canopies, tiny exit holes and boring dust in cracks of the bark, and occasionally sap flux; however, these symptoms could be caused by other boring insects or diseases. The best way to detect MOB infested trees is to observe the pattern of canopy decline. MOB begins by colonizing a large branch in the upper canopy, so newly infested trees will often have one declining branch while the rest of the canopy appears healthy. As the infestation progresses, the entire canopy begins to decline and in some instances, heavily infested branches can produce extensive epicormic sprouting with leaves diminished in size and densely clustered (sometimes referred to as “popcorn foliage”). The most reliable way to confirm MOB is from the architecture of its galleries, which are trellis-like, intersecting, and fan out in a single plane (Fig. 3A). These gallery patterns distinguish it from native Monarthrum spp. of ambrosia beetles, which have galleries branching from a single point and do not intersect neighboring galleries (Fig. 3B). These native beetles will only attack trees that are already dead, dying, or diseased.
Research is currently underway to determine the extent of the two infestations and to find effective management strategies to control MOB. From other similar invasive insects, such as the shot hole borer in southern California, options like chipping (≤1” size), solarization, burning, or burying infested material will likely be crucial in mitigating spread. However, since infestations can be cryptic for several years, there is significant potential for the beetle's range to expand as they can be moved in infested wood and are capable fliers. The best method of control is preventing the movement of the insect and its host material from known infested areas. For more information, please visit: ucanr.edu/sites/mobpc.
If you have a tree that you believe to be infested, please contact the California Department of Food and Agriculture:
- Pest Hotline: 1-800-491-1899
- Report a Pest: cdfa.ca.gov/plant/reportapest/
Michael I. Jones, PhD, UC Cooperative Extension Forest Advisor, Mendocino, Lake, & Sonoma County, email@example.com, (707) 463-4495
- Author: Lorena Anderson
After a lengthy and rigorous review by independent auditors, UC Merced can proudly announce it is the first public research university in the country to achieve carbon neutrality, two years ahead of its goal.
“UC Merced has been on the cutting edge of sustainability in higher education since its inception. We are proud of our many achievements in reducing our impact on the environment, and this recognition of our carbon neutrality stands among the most meaningful we have yet received,” Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz said.
The campus actually achieved carbon neutrality in 2018, seven years before former UC President Janet Napolitano's initiative goal to have all 10 campuses carbon neutral by 2025. However, the emissions verification and validation take time. UC Merced retained a third-party verifier to review and audit the campus inventories of greenhouse gas emissions specifically from onsite fossil fuel combustion and purchased electricity.
“This was a voluntary step we took, and usually take, to ensure accuracy and transparency,” said Breeana Sylvas, assistant director of the Office of Sustainability. “We wanted to ensure we reflected the full spectrum of our campus emissions profile.”
The inventory results are reported to The Climate Registry (TCR), which conducts its own review. TCR is a nonprofit organization with a mission of empowering its members to reduce their carbon footprints. It does not certify organizations as carbon neutral, but rather works with member organizations to measure, report and verify their carbon footprints.
“I'm very proud that our university has achieved carbon-neutral campus operations and hope we can be an inspiration for others across the state and nation,” said distinguished professor Roger Bales, a member of the UC Global Climate Leadership Council. “The current carbon neutrality announcement is an important milestone in our long journey to create a just, sustainable future.”
Since its founding, UC Merced has set stringent sustainability goals, including zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. The campus is green from the ground up, with every campus building LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.
In addition to the wealth of sustainability and climate-related research projects across all three schools, carbon neutrality has been a campuswide effort, with faculty, staff and students engaged in climate action planning. Contributing programs include faculty integrating sustainable practices in their labs, students analyzing building operations and energy use, and student research on carbon offsets and carbon sequestration. The campus has integrated engagement programs as an opportunity for students to learn about sustainability measures on campus and to carry the culture of sustainability out into the wider world.
“Supporting the campus carbon neutrality goal has been rewarding,” said Carlin Coleman, a graduating senior studying environmental engineering, who works in the Office of Sustainability. “Often, people don't recognize the small measures that can reduce impacts on the environment. It makes me proud to know that my actions are directly affecting our campus goal.”
Other efforts include prioritizing student-led programs to reduce greenhouse gas impacts in buildings, developing high-performance buildings, installing renewable energy generation onsite, making clean power purchases and using carbon offsets.
“Our priority is to align operational goals with the mission of the university, student learning and research,” Sylvas said. “This includes reducing energy use, identifying and utilizing clean and renewable sources for onsite combustion, and mitigating remaining emissions generated through gas with offsets.”
Even as the Merced 2020 Project doubled the size of campus and added 13 new buildings over the past three years, UC Merced has been able to keep its energy use-intensity relatively level, she said. While the construction of each building meets high standards, the campus has modeled building efficiency within the state.
“Past revisions of the energy code for the state of California were updated because of advancements made by UC Merced,” Director of Sustainability Mark Maxwell said. “Specifically, lighting control methods designed into buildings, which included multiple controlled lighting systems, occupancy sensors, and lighting control management systems.” The campus is looking to eliminate fossil fuel combustion in future capital developments, he said.
Besides its own goals and the UC-wide carbon neutrality initiative, UC Merced is also a signatory of the Second Nature Carbon Commitment, an extension of the Presidents' Climate Leadership Commitments. Second Nature is a non-governmental organization committed to accelerating climate action in, and through, higher education, and recognizes schools that have achieved carbon neutrality.
“Congratulations to UC Merced on this major accomplishment,” Second Nature President Tim Carter said. “Achieving carbon neutrality for higher education institutions is not an easy undertaking. It requires tremendous commitment and continuous work on the campus and within their community to do so. To do so earlier than their goal neutrality date illustrates just how committed UC Merced is.”
Taken all together, UC Merced's commitment to sustainability has had a positive effect on the campus community and the region, as well. You can learn more about the campus's carbon neutrality efforts and successes online.
“We have a dynamic, robust program that is engaging and utilizing multiple avenues that have achieved and are maintaining our goal, and we thank our incredible campus community members, all of whom are making a difference. We are just getting started,” Sylvas said. “This is just the beginning.”
- Author: Kim Ingram
In California, ~9 million acres of forestland are owned by individuals, with ~90% of these owners owning less than 50 acres each. Considering California has ~33 million acres of total forestland, that 9 million acres makes up to a lot of our state's forests that individuals are responsible for. The costs of managing these forestlands can be substantial for some private landowners. Zsolt Katay, CALFIRE Forestry Assistance Specialist, in Tuolumne, Calaveras, Madera, and Mariposa Counties, has some advice for forest landowners on applying for CALFIRE's California Forest Improvement Program (CFIP), which can assist landowners in paying for some management activities.
Q: How can CFIP benefit private forest landowners?
A: CFIP is designed to encourage private and public investments in forestlands. It's a reimbursement program, which can pay for 75-90 % of the costs incurred by non-industrial, private forest landowners when managing forests. This work can be performed either by contractors or the landowners themselves. If work is performed by a contractor, advance payments can be requested.
Q: What types of projects will CFIP fund?
A: The CFIP program allows reimbursement for a California Forest Management Plan prepared by an RPF, as well as non-commercial forest improvement treatments such as site preparation and planting, pre-commercial thinning, pruning, herbicide application, and slash disposal. The program may also reimburse for specific land conservation and habitat improvement projects upon approval by the CAL FIRE Forestry Assistance Specialist (FAS). For a more complete list, please download the CFIP Users Guide.
Q: Are there eligibility requirements in order to apply for CFIP?
A: Forest landowners must have a minimum of 20 acres of forestland, and no more than 5000 acres. The forestland must be at least 10% covered by native trees and be zoned for uses compatible with forest management. Land not zoned for timber production must be maintained by the owner for 10 years, and this is recorded through a Land Use Addendum in the landowner's County Recorder's Office. Treatment areas must be at least a 5 acres, but there is no minimum acreage for land conservation or habitat improvement.
Q: What are the steps required to apply for CFIP?
A: STEP 1 – Contact your local CAL FIRE Forester of Forestry Assistance Specialist (FAS);
STEP 2 – Contract with a Registered Professional Forester (RPF) who will prepare the application package;
STEP 3 – A CAL FIRE FAS will schedule a field visit to your property;
STEP 4 – Submit an application if your project is deemed eligible for funding;
STEP 5 – A final agreement package will be compiled, including the addition of any other required documents;
STEP 6 – Your CFIP application will be ranked against other submitted applications.
Please note that any activity where reimbursement is expected under a CFIP agreement, including a management plan, cannot be started until a fully executed and signed copy of the agreement is received from CAL FIRE.
Q: If my application is approved, what are my next steps?
A: STEP 1 – Hire a Registered Professional Forester (RPF) and make sure you have funds in hand to pay for work until your reimbursement is awarded (unless you are able to apply for advance funding – see below);
STEP 2 – Complete and submit a California Cooperative Forest Management Plan, unless one is in place. CFIP does require a prepared and approved CCFMP prior the project being started. An existing Non-industrial timber management plan (NTMP), Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) management plan may also be used;
STEP 3 – A CEQA review must be completed and submitted by your RPF. Do not begin your project until your local FAS has confirmed steps 2 & 3 have been satisfied;
STEP 4 – Start you project!;
STEP 5 – A field inspection will be conducted by a CAL FIRE Forester for every submitted invoice;
STEP 6 – Submit invoices for all project related costs. Reimbursement rates will vary depending on things such as if the work was contracted out or if you completed the work yourself. Cap rates can be found on the Cal Fire website.
Q: Can I receive money in advance for forest management activities instead of receiving a reimbursement?
A: Yes, you can submit a written Advance Payment Request, including a project description identifying how funds will be used over a six-month period. The written Advance Payment Request must be accompanied by an invoice that contains the same level of detail as a regular invoice. Consult your local FAS for more information.
Keep in mind that CFIP cannot be used on the same area as other cost-share programs (e.g., EQIP). You will also receive a 1099R form for the tax year(s) in which you receive a CFIP reimbursement payment. Consult your tax advisor/CPA before applying.
To locate and contact a FAS in your area, please visit the Cal Fire Website and download the ‘Contact a CFIP Forest Advisor' spreadsheet.
For more information on cost-share programs, please see Forest Stewardship Series 23 Technical and Financial Assistance, UC ANR Publication 8253.
- Author: Lynn Wunderlich
Mike McGee grows Christmas trees in El Dorado county and has been using stump culture on his 19 acre Choose n' Cut Farm for 36 years. According to Mike, stump culture reduces the time to harvest for a White Fir from 8-10 years to 5-7 years. One stump can provide as many as eight harvested trees.
For those of you who think growing Christmas trees is as easy as planting a few conifers and forgetting about them, beware. Christmas tree production and stump culture takes work to produce a good looking tree. The cut, number of nurse branches, and selection of final tree sprout all affect the resulting success and tree quality. McGee goes back to each harvested stump in January and recuts the stump using a sharp saw to produce a clean cut. He then paints the stump using a 4 inch roller and an elastomeric coating, which is dense and will stretch. The coating helps to prevent the stump from rotting until the tree's nature sap overgrows it, sealing the stump.
The bigger the tree stump, the more nurse branches that are left. Typically this means leaving 10-12 branches around a white fir. New trees will grow up from either a nurse branch limb that turns up-not desirable due to the bend in the bottom- or a new sprout which will grow straighter, and is therefore more desirable than a tree grown from a turned up limb. The limbs fold up and shade the cut stump, nature's way of protecting the cuts that heal better when they have shade.
- Author: Pam Kan-Rice
Californians have been dealing with wildfires, the pandemic, power shutdowns, excessive heat and drought, sometimes all at the same time. In every county, UC Cooperative Extension is there to assist community members.
To better serve their clientele, nearly three-quarters of UC Cooperative Extension employees say they need professional development related to disaster response, according to a new study led by Vikram Koundinya, UC Cooperative Extension evaluation specialist in the UC Davis Department of Human Ecology.
Koundinya and coauthors Cristina Chiarella, UC Davis doctoral graduate student researcher; Susan Kocher, UC Cooperative Extension advisor for the Central Sierra; and Faith Kearns, California Institute for Water Resources academic coordinator, surveyed UC ANR personnel to identify existing disaster management programs and future needs. Their research was published in the October 2020 edition of Journal of Extension.
“It's becoming so common that our folks are being put in the role of responding to disasters, while not having much training or background to do so,” Kocher said.
“And, it's really cross-disciplinary,” she added. “Right now, our nutrition folks are doing so much with assisting their communities with food access during COVID. Others, like Faith Kearns, have been working hard to address drought and help clientele weather drought impacts. There are the individual events like the LNU Lightning Complex fires [wildfires caused by lightning strikes in Lake, Napa, Sonoma, Solano and Yolo counties that burned from Aug. 17 to Oct. 2, 2020], but really, so many of us are currently doing disaster work across our disciplines and that role will only continue to expand with climate change-induced disasters. Once you frame it as ‘disaster work' you can start to see how our system needs to be much more prepared and to learn from and collaborate with each other and with disaster organizations.”
The survey showed that about one-third of the 224 respondents had been involved in preparing for, responding to, or helping communities recover from disasters. Respondents also noted a variety of needs related to disaster preparedness, response and recovery systems, procedures, materials and equipment, and educational materials.
“UC ANR personnel reported a need for professional development related to understanding how we fit into broader disaster response systems (73%) in California, what Extension resources are available for disaster response (63%), how the landscape of disaster risks in California communities is changing (62%), how communities can mitigate or manage disaster risks (62%), how to develop pre-established networks within the organization for responding to disasters (52%) and coordination with local and state entities (48%),” Koundinya said.
The authors note in the journal article, “Even though UCCE has been playing a critical role in disaster response for decades, because of the size and geographic spread of the UCCE system, disaster management approaches and materials have tended to develop piecemeal on a program-by-program and often county-by-county and disaster-by-disaster basis.”
The article, “Disasters Happen: Identifying disaster management needs of Cooperative Extension System personnel” can be viewed at https://joe.org/joe/2020october/a2.php.
“We recommend that the findings be used for designing professional development on the topics and needs identified by the respondents,” said Koundinya.