- Author: Lenya Quinn-Davidson, Council Director
The Northern California Prescribed Fire Council held its eighth biannual meeting on April 25-26, 2013 at UC’s Hopland Research and Extension Center (HREC). Over 110 people attended the meeting, which featured a wide range of research and management presentations on prescribed fire-related topics. Meeting attendees included federal, state, and local agency personnel; ecologists and researchers; fire safe council representatives; private landowners and ranchers; tribal representatives; high school, undergraduate, and graduate students; and more! As usual, the Council meeting highlighted the diversity and passion of northern California’s prescribed fire community. As one meeting attendee commented on their evaluation form, “I frequently reference examples and discussions from these meetings—they are a great place for applied integration of research, policy, and management, as well as meeting people with converging interests.”
The meeting brought in a number of exciting presenters, including featured speakers Ken Pimlott, Director of CAL FIRE, and Sarah McCaffrey, Researcher with the US Forest Service Northern Research Station in Chicago. Other presenters included Dennis Martinez of the Indigenous Peoples’ Restoration Network, Bob Keiffer of the Hopland Research and Extension Center, Malcolm North of the USFS Pacific Southwest Research Station, Scott Stephens of UC Berkeley, Dave McLean of CAL FIRE, and several other pioneers in the art and science of prescribed fire. The group spent one day in the HREC’s new Rod Shippey conference building, and they spent the second day visiting burn units and research sites throughout the 5,000+ acre property.
The Northern California Prescribed Fire Council formed in fall of 2009 with the mission of providing a venue for dialogue and collaboration around prescribed fire. The Council holds public meetings twice a year in different parts of the north state. Previous meetings have taken place in Arcata, Chico, Tahoe, Redding, and Berkeley, among other locations. Council meetings always feature presentations by fire scientists and managers, with an emphasis on the challenges and opportunities relevant to each meeting location. The Council also has sub-committees that work on training, communications, policy, and other prescribed fire-related issues throughout the region.
- Posted By: Jaime Adler
- Written by: Gareth J Mayhead
Last week I visited Trinity River Lumber (TRL), a sawmill, in Weaverville, California. The sawmill was almost totally destroyed by a fire in September 2009 and completed rebuilding in January this year. The mill is the largest private employer in Trinity County with approximately 115 full time jobs. The community was relieved that TRL’s owner chose to rebuild the mill after the fire. The new mill is impressive in its versatility to saw a range of products and in its use of technology to maximize production. Both the pony (small log) and main headrig saws make use of 3D scanners to optimize lumber yield from each log. They are currently increasing production to approximately 120,000,000 board feet of lumber per year. The main products are green (undried) douglas fir and white fir dimension lumber.
TRL is classed as a SBA (Small Business Administration) sawmill by the Forest Service. This means that they are eligible to bid on Forest Service SBA set-aside sales (http://www.sba.gov/content/natural-resources-assistance-program). There are only four SBA sawmills left in California: TRL, Shasta Green, Sierra Forest Products and Sound Stud (currently curtailed). TRL do not own timberland and source logs, from public and private lands, within a 200 mile radius. Some logs sourced from the Sierra Nevada are delivered on flat bed trucks with log stakes so that the same truck can then take finished lumber to market.
As part of the UC Woody Biomass Utilization program (http://ucanr.org/sites/WoodyBiomass) I have worked with TRL on a number of projects including deploying new technology at the mill that increases the efficiency of sawing small logs. Most recently I worked with the mill to help them secure a 2011 Forest Service Woody Biomass Utilization (WBU) Grant. The grant of $250,000 was one of three awarded to California applicants (http://ucanr.org/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=5184) and will help pay towards the engineering required for a biomass fired boiler to run dry kilns with the potential to add electrical generation in the future. The project will allow TRL to produce kiln-dried lumber, increase the efficient use of sawmill residues and create a new market for woody biomass in the county.
Since 2008 the UC Woody Biomass Utilization program has helped capture almost $5m dollars for California businesses, non-profits and government though the WBU grant program. This represents a significant investment in helping the forest products industry in California retool for smaller logs and woody biomass from ecological restoration projects.
We have helped many businesses like TRL, non –profits and others with understanding technology, markets and sourcing grants – perhaps you could be next?
Woody Biomass Utilization Website (http://ucanr.org/WoodyBiomass)
Woody Biomass Utilization Blog (http://ucanr.org/blogs/WoodyBiomass/index.cfm)
Woody Biomass on Twitter (http://twitter.com/WoodyBiomass)
- Posted By: Jaime Adler
- Written by: Susie Kocher, UCCE Advisor
Wildfire Summit pulls together Tahoe basin residents and agencies on the fourth anniversary of the 2007 Angora fire to improve implementation of defensible space
The Lake Tahoe Wildfire Summit was held in Tahoe City on June 24th, 2011, four years after the Angora fire which started on June 24th, 2007 in South Lake Tahoe. The summit drew together over 100 basin residents, agency staff and policy makers to focus on ways to reduce wildfire risks to Tahoe homes and communities. Presentations centered on wildfire issues in the Tahoe Basin and how to reduce risk to homes and communities by creating defensible space, improving building materials and design, and implementing forest fuels reduction projects. Participants also went on field trips to the nearby Washoe fire, to a forest fuels reduction project implemented at Granlibakken resort (the hosting venue), and to a nearby neighborhood to examine the flammability of home construction.
After reaching a highpoint in 2007 due to the Angora fire, the level of concern about wildfire and motivation to do defensible space seems to be tapering off at the lake according to many fire agency staff. Participants cited residents’ and homeowners’ attitudes as the foremost barrier, saying that people don’t care about fire hazards, don’t think of natural vegetation as needing maintenance, or would rather recreate than do yard work. This attitude may be deeply ingrained at Lake Tahoe, a community where leisure and recreation in the “natural” outdoor environment is deeply valued.
Lack of understanding about the issue and denial that a wildfire could happen again were also cited with some reporting time they had been told by locals that Tahoe had an “asbestos” forest and wouldn’t burn. Other concerns are that vegetation removal for defensible space will look unsightly or reduce privacy. Also, there is a perception that defensible space actions are illegal or clash with water quality best management practice requirements required by local and regional government to preserve Lake Tahoe’s famed clarity.
Ownership patterns, including second home ownership and a high percentage of rental properties, reduce the opportunity and ability for some to complete defensible space. Costs are a factor for some residents, especially during the current recession (though there are currently rebate programs in place that can pay up to half of the cost of defensible space treatments). Disposing of materials can also be difficult.
Attendees at the Summit brainstormed and prioritized strategies to overcome these barriers to defensible space implementation. Education was cites as the major need to increase implementation. Education should focus on increasing awareness and understanding of the fire issue at Tahoe and highlighting the attractiveness of defensible landscapes. A major goal should be to develop a culture that doing defensible space is just a part of living at Lake Tahoe. Helping residents understand that defensible space is not only legal, it’s required and will eventually be enforced was also key. Following up with actual enforcement actions was identified as critical to this effort.
At the end of the day, all participants said the summit helped to clarify wildfire issues in the Tahoe Basin. 88% said it will help their communities work together to reduce wildfire risk and that they personally had a better idea of how to reduce wildfire hazards in their community.
Partner agencies included the seven local fire agencies in the basin, CalFire, the Nevada Division of Forestry (NDF), the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA), the US Forest Service and both the University of California and University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Funding for the event was provided by the NDF, TRPA, fire resistant construction material manufactures, and local defensible space contractors.
For a full account of the event, please download the Summit Report
For more information on how to implement defensible space at Lake Tahoe, go to: www.livingwithfire.info/tahoe
- Posted By: Jaime Adler
- Written by: Steve Quarles, UCCE Forest Specialist
The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Committee E05 on Fire Standards is meeting this week in Anaheim, California. ASTM is a standards writing organization. Today many task groups met to review and consider changes to standard test methods. For example, the task group that oversees ASTM E-84, Standard Test Method for Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials met. This test is used to determine the flame spread rating (Class A, B, or C) for construction materials, and is one of the measures used to describe the performance of deck boards that comply with Chapter 7A of the California Building Code. Chapter 7A is the state code that applies to new construction in California. Today it was announced that a modified version of ASTM E-84, that subjects the test material to the standard flame for 30 minutes instead of 10 minutes, was approved as an ASTM standard. This is the test method used by the Office of the State Fire Marshal to determine if a material can be considered an “ignition resistant material.” This procedure has been used for a number of years, but it just became an official standard.
The ASTM Committee E05 on Fire Standards Research Review Session was held at the end of the day. The title of today’s session was “Quantification of Exterior Fire Exposure Metrics” Task Group Activities and Related Research Programs. The program consisted of four presentations:
-Joe Zicherman (a graduate of UC Berkeley) and President of Fire Cause Analysis, gave a talk titled “The Challenge of Wildfire/Bushfire Events”
-Jon Traw, a building code consultant and Task Group Chair for exterior fire exposures, presented information on a workshop held at the University of California Richmond Field Station in February of this year. This workshop followed the Fire and Materials 2011 conference that was held in San Francisco.
-Dr. Samuel L. Manzello, a researcher at the National Institute for Standards and Technology reported on recent testing on building vulnerabilities that he has been leading in Japan.
-Steve Quarles, UCCE Forest Specialist reported on recent testing at the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety Research Center. Co-authors for this presentation were Anne Cope, the Research Director at the Research Center and Jack Cohen, Researcher at the USDA Forest Service Fire Lab in Missoula Montana.
Tomorrow the subcommittee for exterior fire exposures will meet. Task groups that are developing standards for exterior-use materials are being developed within this subcommittee.