ANR in the news October 1-15

Nov 1, 2019

Why we need to treat wildfire as a public health issue in California

 (The Conversation) Faith Kearns and Max Moritz, Oct 15

… As researchers who have worked extensively on fire in California, we believe it is time to treat fires that affect communities as the public health challenge they have become. This means taking a more robust approach to a host of issues, including focusing on where and how we build, taking the needs of vulnerable populations seriously, and ensuring that solutions are equitable.


As Groundwater Law Plows Forward, Small Farmers Seek More Engagement

(KVPR) Kerry Klein, Oct. 15

… Ruth Dahlquist-Willard argues that more small farmers need to be taking part in such decisions, though as a small farms advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension, she acknowledges those growers can be harder to reach. They tend to have fewer resources than bigger outfits to leave the fields and go to meetings. Many don't speak English, and those who lease land from far-off owners may not see policy mailings. “There's not the social network either, what we might call social capital, where you have other chances to hang out with the people that are making the decisions,” she says. Even five years after SGMA was passed, many small farmers have still never heard of the law.

But that's no reason not to engage, Dahlquist-Willard argues. With their Groundwater Sustainability Plans due to the state at the end of January, most GSAs in the Valley have drafted their plans and posted them to the web for public comment. “Right now is the time when farmers and anyone else who is interested can actually provide input on the plans that are going to be implemented next year,” she says.

In September, Dahlquist-Willard organized a meeting for small farmers and GSA representatives to come together in Fresno. Dennis Hutson attended; Chong Ge Xiong came out to a similar meeting for Asian business owners. “The goal was to connect the farmers with people who are putting the plans together that are going to affect how groundwater is going to be managed in the San Joaquin Valley,” she says.


Her Superb Swimming Didn't Stop With Pregnancy

(Wall St. Journal) Jen Murphy, Oct. 14

Lauren Au Brinkmeyer spent two years training and gained 10 pounds to swim the English Channel. After completing the approximately 21-mile crossing in July 2018 in 11 hours and 54 seconds, she was prepared to hang up her swim cap and start a family in Oakland, Calif., with her husband.

But when registration for the 20 Bridges Swim, a 28.5-mile circumnavigation of Manhattan, opened last November, she applied and earned one of the 67 spots for the July 2019 event. “I couldn't resist the pull of the open water,” she says. When she struggled to become pregnant, she initially blamed her intense training in 50-degree water without a wetsuit. But her doctor told her many women her age have trouble getting pregnant right away.

An associate researcher at the Nutrition Policy Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, Dr. Au Brinkmeyer, 34, shifted her focus back to the water. She set her sights on achieving the triple crown of open-water swimming, a challenge that consists of the English Channel, the 20 Bridges Swim and the Catalina Channel, which runs about 20 miles between Santa Catalina Island and Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.


Eco-tip: Focus of composting may change from backyard to business

(Ventura County Star) David Goldstein, Oct. 13

…Residents may get some guidance from an upcoming workshop sponsored by Master Gardeners of Ventura County, a project of the UC Cooperative Extension. Meeting from 9-11 a.m. Oct. 26 at The ARC of Ojai, 210 Canada St., it will focus on winter vegetable gardening but also will include soil preparation methods, such as composting. You can register at


California Is Trying to Prevent Fires. No One Expected a Smoking Garbage Truck.

(New York Times) Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Oct. 12

…“Some of these things are really quite unbelievable when you hear about them,” said William C. Stewart, a forestry specialist at the University of California, Berkeley. “But they just occur with a certain probability. They just do.”

Mr. Stewart has seen several fires that began when a lawn mower scraped against a rock on a hot day, sending sparks into the dry grass. The Sandalwood fire was the first time he had heard of a garbage truck's load igniting a wildfire, but not much surprises him anymore.

“There's just an endless series of things that people do to create sparks and fires,” Mr. Stewart said. “This time of year, when everything is bone dry, it really is just like kindling.”


Who Are Master Gardeners?

(My Motherlode) Rebecca Miller-Cripps, Oct. 11

You probably know a Master Gardener and may not even know it.  Master Gardeners are your neighbors. We live in your community, and work in your local nurseries and hardware stores.  Master Gardeners love plants and gardening and face the same gardening challenges that you do.  We may be members of the local garden club, rose society, or California Native Plant Society.  Master Gardeners are volunteers trained and certified by the University of California Cooperative Extension in home gardening and horticulture.   We promote the application of useful basic gardening practices.  Our purpose is to teach and extend research-based information to home and community gardeners.


California Fire Map: Track Fires Near Me Today

( Stephanie Dube Dwilson, Oct. 10

…A new interactive fire map is below, provided by Note that this map is only updated up to twice daily, so it may not be not as current as the two interactive maps above.


'People Are Freaking Out.' Thousands of Californians Left Powerless Amid Electricity Cuts to Prevent Wildfires

(TIME) Tara Law, Oct. 10

As hundreds of thousands of Californians grapple with a power shutoff intended to reduce the risk of wildfires, people affected by the outages say that their communities are racked by anxiety and frustration about the disruption — as well as fear that the complications associated with the outages outweigh the intended benefits.

“People are freaking out around here,” says Jeffery Stackhouse, a Livestock and Natural Resource Advisor from Fortuna, Calif who spoke with TIME along with his colleague, Lenya Quinn-Davidson, the area fire advisor with UC Cooperative Extension in Humboldt County, Calif., and director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council. They said the outages have fundamentally disrupted life in their community: Schools have closed, some businesses can't run credit cards, people have lined up outside of gas stations to try and get fuel, and cars have been stuck in traffic jams as a result of traffic light outages.

… “If a fire starts because of other causes — which could easily happen under severe conditions — now we have no way to communicate,” Quinn-Davidson says. “Seriously, like, if this power outage happened when the Carr Fire happened — how would you evacuate people? That's completely possible. You could have a power outage and have a fire start from a roadside cigarette. Or arson. Or anything. And then what?” (The Carr Fire was reportedly sparked by a vehicle.)


You've heard of chestnuts roasting on an open fire. The Modesto area also grows them

(Modesto Bee) John Holland, Oct. 9

…Chestnut acreage might be small, but the state has the advantage of an early harvest compared with other growing regions, said Roger Duncan, county director for the University of California Cooperative Extension.

“We would be one of earliest in the world market, so there is some price advantage to it,” he said.


Sudden Oak Death: Detected in Del Norte County, quarantine continues in Curry

(Curry Coastal Pilot) Jeremy C. Ruark, Oct. 9

…Lee: The samples were collected as part of a UC Berkeley-led effort called a SOD blitz. For this effort, the Forest Pathology and Mycology Lab at UCB provides collection materials to samplers throughout the range of sudden oak death in California, then tests the samples that are sent back to them in order to help track the distribution and progress of sudden oak death in California from year to year. For Del Norte County, the SOD blitz is the latest part of an effort to monitor the county for signs of the disease that dates back to 2004. Over the years, this effort has involved University of California Cooperative Extension, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, Cal Fire and the Del Norte County Agriculture Department.


As dangerous fire conditions target California, Weather Service is rethinking its warning system

(Washington Post) Diana Leonard, Oct. 8

…Yana Valachovic, a forest adviser and county director with the UC Cooperative Extension, thinks specific actions taken in the hours and days before a wildfire could help prevent future disasters.

“We need to get more sophisticated in helping the public understand what the vulnerabilities are and how to prepare,” she said.

Her post-fire investigations of neighborhoods destroyed in California's 2017 and 2018 firestorms reveal lessons about both wildfire evacuation and home wildfire protection. For example, knowing when to leave, even without an official evacuation order, is crucial during fast-spreading wildfires. That decision requires close monitoring of (and access to) weather and wildfire information. And for last-minute home preparation, if time allows, she said, residents should target the immediate zone around the home — zero to five feet from outside walls and decks— and clear any materials that could ignite in an ember storm.

“I think education is really important, and the alerts are a very good example of where that education needs to happen,” she said.


Navel Orangeworm Plague Might be Growing Out of Control

(Growing Produce) Christina Herrick, Oct. 8

…“Although this is a proven practice, we still see some growers are not doing this practice, for whatever reason. Sometimes, it is difficult to do mummy sanitation due to the rainfall in the winter, or due to the heavy ground in some orchards. But it is important to plan in advance considering these factors. Sanitation can be done at any time between October and Feb. 1,” Jhalendra Rijal, University of California Cooperative Extension Area Integrated Pest Management Advisor for the Northern San Joaquin Valley, says.


A Cow, a Controversy, and a Dashed Dream of More Humane Farms

(Wired) Megan Molteni, Oct. 8

On the morning of August 7, Alison Van Eenennaam awoke to a tweet from a man she had never met. He had sent her a link to a story written in German, illustrated with a clip-art cow next to an udder-pink biohazard symbol. “Aren't you involved in the hornless cows criticized here by a German NGO?” the man tweeted at Van Eenenaam from nine time zones away. “Can you give us some details on what @US_FDA found?”

Related articles:

Horned bull genetically edited by scientists becomes 'dad' to six hornless calves

Hornless Genome-Edited Bull Passes Trait to Offspring

Scientists Used Gene Editing to Create a Bull Without Horns. It Passed the Trait to its Offspring

Country Life Today: Sir David Attenborough's heartfelt call to arms


West Coast Rodent Academy Set for November 6-8

(PCT Online) Brad Harbison, Oct. 7

The West Coast Rodent Academy (WCRA) will be held at University of California's South Coast Research and Extension Center, Irvine, Calif., November 6-8th.

…The featured speaker is Niamh Quinn, the new University of California Cooperative Extension Human - Wildlife Advisor, based at the South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine.


Survey Helps UC Understand Cannabis Production Challenges in State

(Cal Ag Today) Patrick Cavanaugh, Oct. 7

Results from a UC Cooperative Extension survey of registered and unregistered marijuana (cannabis) growers in California will help researchers, policy makers and the public better understand growing practices since cannabis sales, possession and cultivation first became legal for recreational use.

“This survey is a starting point from which UC scientists could build research and extension programs, if possible in the future,” said lead author Houston Wilson, UCCE specialist with UC Riverside. A report on the survey results was published in the July-December 2019 issue of California Agriculture journal, the research publication of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.


California ignores the science as it OKs more homes in wildfire zones, researchers say

(LA Times) Joshua Emerson Smith, Oct. 6

…“The notion that this is all about how we will plan our future developments ignores the 800-pound gorilla of the built environment as it exists on the landscape today,” said Keith Gilless, professor of forest economics at UC Berkeley and chairman of the state's Board of Forestry and Fire Protection.

…“It's really common to see post-fire neighborhoods and there's a lot of the vegetation left,” said Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist with the University of California Cooperative Extension. “You realize, it was embers that started some of the homes on fire, and then the homes themselves generated a bunch of heat and fire that caught the neighboring homes on fire.”


CA Gov. Newsom signs 22 bills for wildfire mitigation

(Daily Cal) Olivia Buccieri, Oct. 4

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a package of 22 bills for California's wildfire mitigation and preparedness efforts Wednesday, building on the $1 billion allocated for wildfire and emergency investment in the budget.

Multiple Assembly members and senators contributed individual bills related to wildfire intervention, ranging from fire prevention techniques to mitigating climate change through clean energy policies.

[Should be Yana Valachovic] Lenya Quinn-Davidson, an area fire advisor for the UC Cooperative Extension, worked closely on AB 38 with Assemblymember Jim Wood's office, D-Santa Rosa. AB 38 works to develop community-wide resilience through home-hardening techniques and defensible space development. Assemblymember Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, author of AB 1584, wrote about the relevance of climate change in enhancing wildfire risk.


Value up, acreage down in 2018 ag report

(Imperial Valley Press) Tom Bodus, Oct. 3

…”The agricultural industry is not alone in their contribution to our economy in Imperial County,” said Agricultural Commissioner Carlos Ortiz, in a written statement. “What contributes to the success of agriculture is the support and advocacy from such organization as Imperial County Farm Bureau and Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association and agencies including the University of California Cooperative Extension and the Agricultural Commissioner's staff who all work tireless to promote and support the industry.”


California's Prune Orchard of the Future

(Progressive Crop Consultant) Oct. 3

Luke Milliron | UCCE Farm Advisor for Butte, Glenn and Tehama Counties
Franz Niederholzer | UCCE Farm Advisor for Colusa, Sutter, and Yuba Counties
Dani Lightle | UCCE Orchards System Advisor for Glenn, Butte and Tehama Counties
Katherine Jarvis-Shean | UCCE Orchards System Advisor for Sacramento, Solano and Yolo Counties

California will likely have a large prune crop in 2019 following favorable bloom conditions and lower yields in 2018. Unfortunately, in prune production with larger crops typically comes smaller fruit, of which there is currently an over-supply in the world market. High production of small fruit world-wide has come at a time when demand for small fruit from consuming nations like China, Brazil, and Russia has been in decline. California handlers have been strongly urging their growers to use shaker thinning to reduce the fruit number during spring and help deliver large, high-quality fruit at harvest.


How to Prepare for Wildfire Season, According to Experts

(Inside Hook) Diane Rommel, Oct. 3

…Whether you blame climate change or population shifts, utility companies or bad luck, one thing is clear: a drier, hotter environment requires new thinking, and some difficult questions. Does your Napa Valley wedding spot have an evacuation plan? Is an autumn getaway in the mountains worth the risk? For the answers, we went straight to the experts: Dr. Tom Scott and Area Fire Advisor Lenya Quinn-Davidson of the University of California Cooperative Extension.

By Pamela Kan-Rice
Author - Assistant Director, News and Information Outreach