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Posts Tagged: natural resources

UC Cooperative Extension advisor John Karlik retires after a 38-year career in Kern County

John Karlik, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Kern County for environmental horticulture and environmental science, will retire July 1. Karlik began his work in Kern County in 1984 with an emphasis on the commercial rose plant industry and local horticulture outreach.

Karlik's teaching activities included five levels of 12- to 15-week horticulture education classes offered in three locations in Kern County, usually two or three classes held each year. For the past 25 years, he has collaborated with Darrell Feil, co-owner of Abate-a-Weed in Bakersfield, to hold landscape management seminars that connect community members with experts on a wide range of topics.

John Karlik has shared his knowledge extensively across the globe, including on horticulture study tours to places like Iceland.

“What I love about John is a couple of things: first, his knowledge base is amazing – he's a treasure of Kern County, for what he's done education-wise,” Feil said. “And second, he has a very active mind – and so many people benefit from that in our community.”

Karlik expanded his teaching to include 10 horticulture study tours to gardens and landscapes of Europe and Asia, and the photographs from those visits enhanced his outreach and contributed to his chapters on landscape design in the Arizona and UC Master Gardener Handbooks.

He earned his B.S. in soil science from the University of Minnesota and M.S. in horticulture from Michigan State University.

Taking advantage of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' flexibility and sabbatical leave, he completed a doctorate at UCLA in Environmental Science and Engineering, and changed his research focus to air-quality-related projects. That led to a lecture series on atmospheric science and policy, including climate change, which Karlik offered annually for 15 years as a visiting professor at Central European University in Budapest, and resulting in a service award from that institution.

In recent years, he led four tours to study ecosystem response in the still-radioactive Exclusion Zone at Chernobyl, Ukraine, site of the world's worst nuclear accident.

Karlik prepares to take down a mulberry tree at a UC Research and Extension Center.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Karlik shifted from in-person classes and offered 75 hour-long Zoom presentations on horticulture, landscape design, climate change and environmental science topics, finding an audience in California and in other states.

Karlik also has held a variety of positions in ANR committees, including Academic Assembly Council and the Communications Advisory Board.

“I especially appreciate the many collegial relationships I have within UCCE, ANR, and on several campuses,” Karlik said. “Authorship on many publications reflects those relationships.”

In retirement, Karlik expects to offer assistance at the UCCE office in Kern County and as an editor for a forthcoming ANR book. He intends to pursue interests in instrumental music and the study of languages.

“We've been really blessed to have a guy like John around,” Feil said.

Posted on Wednesday, June 29, 2022 at 11:11 AM
Focus Area Tags: Environment, Health, Natural Resources, Yard & Garden

College of Natural Resources receives $50 million naming gift

Former dean Gordon Rausser has gifted $50 million to Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources, the largest amount ever received by the college. (UC Berkeley photo by Keegan Houser)

The College of Natural Resources at the University of California, Berkeley, has been renamed the Rausser College of Natural Resources in honor of a landmark $50 million gift by Gordon Rausser, former dean of the college and the Robert Gordon Sproul Distinguished Professor Emeritus of agricultural and resource economics at UC Berkeley.

The gift, the largest donation ever received by the college and the largest naming gift of any academic unit at UC Berkeley, will support the school's land-grant mission to take on key economic, social, environmental and health challenges facing the state and the nation. Major initiatives led by the college include mitigating and adapting to climate change, accelerating the clean energy transition and improving food security and nutrition for all. 

“The state of California, and the nation as a whole, face enormous environmental risks today that didn't exist 20 years ago, and we as a society haven't found the will to address them squarely,” Rausser said. “Rausser College has some of the best economists in the world and some of the best scientists in the world, and by working together, as they must, they uniquely position the college to provide not only the fundamental science, but also the practical solutions, needed to tackle these challenges.” 

Rausser's gift is a major component of UC Berkeley's landmark $6 billion “Light the Way” fundraising campaign, which officially launched Saturday, Feb. 29.

“Gordon Rausser's incredible contribution of his own personal resources to support the mission of UC Berkeley and Rausser College is an unparalleled vote of confidence in the college, the university and our mission,” said Chancellor Carol Christ. “Gordon's legacy of outstanding leadership at the college in and of itself left an indelible mark on our campus and community. His willingness and ability to now provide a strong financial foundation for the college's future is a contribution whose true value is beyond measure.”

The majority of the funds will create an unrestricted endowment that can be used at the direction of the dean, in consultation with faculty leadership, to support a variety of needs across the college's five departments — from supporting graduate students to launching new interdisciplinary research programs.

In addition, a portion of the gift will be used to establish the Gordon Rausser Endowed Chair in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, where Rausser served for over four decades. Another portion will help set up a Rausser-Zilberman Program Endowed Fund for the Master of Development Practice (MDP) Program, which will support students, curriculum enhancements and field opportunities abroad. 

“An endowment gift of this size and nature provides the college with a permanent funding source that will fuel innovation and creativity, enhance the quality of our programs and help us stay competitive — it is truly extraordinary,” said David Ackerly, dean of Rausser College. “We will invest in graduate student support to recruit and train the world's best scholars and support innovative interdisciplinary research to tackle major problems at the state, national and global levels.”  

Other priorities include faculty recruitment and retention, equity and inclusion programs and curriculum innovations, Ackerly said.

More than 40 years of commitment to Berkeley

Rausser first joined the Berkeley faculty in 1978 after leaving his faculty position at Harvard University. He went on to serve as chair of the Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics on three separate occasions before being appointed dean of the College of Natural Resources in 1994. As dean, Rausser oversaw a massive expansion and reorganization of the college, growing the number of faculty at the college by approximately 20%. 

Rausser foresaw the need to increase the college's fundraising enterprise, and under his leadership the college greatly expanded its philanthropic activity. During his time as dean he worked in partnership with the alumni community to create eight new faculty endowed chairs. Today, these endowed chairs are a crucial tool for recruiting and retaining the highest-quality faculty. He also spearheaded the Berkeley-Novartis Agreement, a creative research and development agreement between the College's Department of Plant and Microbial Biology and the Novartis Agricultural Discovery Institute to advance fundamental research in plant biology and genomics. The Berkeley-Novartis Agreement was novel at the time and laid the groundwork for future public private partnerships.

Outside of Berkeley, Rausser has distinguished himself as an economic and policy adviser to the U.S. government and the state of California, as a business consultant and venture capitalist and an entrepreneur. While on academic leave, he served as senior economist on the President's Council of Economic Advisors (1986-1987) under Ronald Reagan and subsequently became chief economist of the U.S. Agency for International Development (1988-1990). His accomplishments also include co-founding Emeryville-based OnPoint Analytics, which provides business consulting services specializing in expert testimony in economics, data analytics, finance and statistics, and co-founding with Berkeley colleagues the Law and Economics Consulting Group. 

He is the recipient of 29 academic research, teaching and leadership awards. The most recent of which is having his professional society — the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) — honor his work by naming the conference keynote, in perpetuity, in recognition of his lifetime research achievements and exceptional intellectual leadership of the profession. The first Rausser Keynote address will take place this year at the AAEA annual society meetings. 

Rausser said the gift is a continuation of his more than 40-year commitment to the campus and its public mission — and that his success as a business leader and entrepreneur enabled him to make it happen. 

“Personally, I can think of no institution in California that's had a greater impact on our past, or has a greater power to shape our future, than Berkeley has, and I take great pride in the fact that Rausser College is one of the cornerstones of this remarkable institution,” Rausser said. “I know what the college is capable of, given the right resources, and I want to ensure that the college achieves an unparalleled level of excellence.”


Posted on Monday, February 24, 2020 at 2:38 PM
  • Author: Kara Manke

California Institute for Water Resources drafts new strategic plan

The California Institute for Water Resources recently completed a strategic plan. During 2018, the Institute went through a thorough strategic planning process with the help of appointed committee members from within and outside of UC ANR.

The committee was carefully selected to represent the diverse stakeholder interests of the institute. Through a variety of inputs during an assessment phase, which included several stakeholder surveys, committee members gathered information to help identify the strengths, opportunities and challenges of the organization to help formulate the plan. The final plan is a living document, which will be used as a flexible framework to develop annual priorities and evaluate progress.

The mission of the California Institute for Water Resources is to integrate California's research, extension and higher education programs to develop and communicate research-based solutions to water resource challenges. CIWR directly impacts California water issues through research and extension programs. The institute keeps its partners informed through its website, newsletter, blog and social media outlets and actively contributes, shapes and diversifies the conversation on California water issues. Meeting the objectives set forth in its strategic plan will increase the effectiveness of CIWR in helping California meet its future water challenges.

CIWR identified five strategic goals to focus on over the next five years:

  1. Foster and incubate research and extension focused on California's critical water challenges.
  2. Engage with and convene the water community to define and address California's water challenges.
  3. Enhance communication and engagement capacity and increase visibility.
  4. Strengthen the relationship between CIWR and UC ANR.
  5. Increase resources to better incubate research and engage the water community.

The complete plan is available at or by visiting CIWR's website:

Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2019 at 10:56 AM
  • Author: Jennifer Caron-Sale
Focus Area Tags: Natural Resources

California Adaptation Clearinghouse website launched

IGIS and the California Naturalist Program are pleased to help celebrate the launch of a new information portal on climate adaptation. The California Adaptation Clearinghouse was officially launched at the California Adaptation Forum in August in Sacramento. The site was developed by the Governor's Office of Planning and Research (OPR) in collaboration with the UC Berkeley Geospatial Innovation FacilityCalNat and IGIS.

The Clearinghouse is a database-driven platform with a wealth of curated resources for climate adaptation. The site originated out of Senate Bill 246, which mandates OPR to provide resources on climate adaptation for local governments, regional planning agencies, and other practitioners working on adaptation and resilience. The database also contains sea-level rise resources collected by the Ocean Protection Council under Assembly Bill 2516. It's an amazing resource for anyone looking to strengthen climate change preparedness in their local government, community, or business.

Topic categories in the Adaptation Clearinghouse

The database includes numerous planning resources that have been developed and vetted by experts in the field. For example, the Urban Sustainability Directors Network has a how-to guide for local governments on developing equitable, community-driven climate preparedness plans, which you can find in the Clearinghouse. There are also examples of vulnerability assessments, local plans, and funding strategies. The majority of resources are hosted by other organizations, but unlike a Google search all the resources in the Clearinghouse have been reviewed, annotated, and cataloged by subject matter specialists.

To help find resources, the Clearinghouse has a number of search options, including more than a dozen topic categories adapted from Safeguarding California, the state's overall roadmap for building climate change resiliency. You can also search by Type of Impact (e.g., drought, sea level rise), Resource Type (e.g., case study, assessment, policy guidance), and of course an interactive map. Each resource has a descriptive blurb so you can quickly find what you need.

Adaptation planning can be information intensive, so the Tools and Data section of the website is devoted to helping people find data and crunch the numbers. Interested in rangelands? Check out the CA Landscape Conservation Cooperative's compiled Threat Assessments to California Rangelands. Sea level rise? Perhaps the CosMos modeling tool from USGS, or the Surging Seas tool from Climate Central. Like all resources, each tool and dataset has a user-friendly description, a technical summary, a bit about the data, and links to the source. One of our favorites is the California Energy Commission's Cal-Adapt, which includes both historical and projected climate data downscaled for California.

Climate stories

Providing a more personal perspective, the Clearinghouse also contains stories about climate adaptation from individuals, community groups, and businesses. The stories were collected by the UC ANR California Naturalist Program and their vast network of certified naturalists. The climate stories are diverse and compelling, from a concerned grandmother who becomes engaged in a community choice energy program, to a solar project engineer working to strengthen measures to prevent heat stroke in field staff. An interactive Story Map developed by IGIS helps users find stories from their area, some of which even have audio or video clips so you can hear the story in the speaker's own words.

Climate adaptation is complicated, but information portals like the Clearinghouse allow anyone to tap into the incredible amount of work that has already been done in California and elsewhere. Rather than reinvent the wheel, local agencies can build upon vetted guidelines from similar areas. We are all fortunate that the State of California has invested in a platform to share curated resources for the long-term, because climate adaptation is already part of the new normal. More resources are in the pipeline, so check it out and then check back often to see what's new.

Posted on Tuesday, December 18, 2018 at 12:22 PM
  • Author: Andy Lyons
Focus Area Tags: Natural Resources

Communication is key to action on California’s new water narrative

UC scientists, students and water agency professionals took a critical look inwards and a radical look outwards when they gathered in Sacramento in October to reimagine California water.

The event was the fourth annual gathering sponsored by UC ANR's California Institute for Water Resources and the University of California Water Security and Sustainability Research Initiative, UC Water.

While science is the hallmark of a research-oriented institution like UC, the participants were asked to recognize their important role not just as scientists but also communicators.

“We have a big role in educating the public,” said Roger Bales, engineering professor at UC Merced who has been active in water and climate research for more than 30 years. “Scientists are political actors. Facts do not speak for themselves.”

Felicia Marcus, chair of the California Water Resources Control Board and a conference panelist, asked the scientists to make their work accessible, and if they are uncomfortable with plain language, “write it both ways.”

“Complexity can lose people easily,” she said.

The conference keynote speaker, futurist Kim Stanley Robinson, also addressed the divide between scientific discourse and popular understanding, in particular when speaking about climate change.

“There is a strange disconnect between what the scientific community is telling the world and what the world is hearing. As a result of data analysis, science is announcing to the world there is climate change. Individuals cannot perceive climate change,” he said. “Show them in ways that can be understood by the senses. The story has to be told with pragmatism and common sense.”

California water travels from the high-mountain headwaters of the Sierra Nevada to the vast groundwater basins in the valleys below.

The Reimagining California Water Conference pursued the water journey from the high-mountain headwaters of the Sierra Nevada to the vast groundwater basins in the valleys below. Over the last century, the mountains were blanketed with snow each winter, storing water that melted slowly in the spring and summer to provide a reliable source of water for farming and communities below. However, climate change is telling a new tale. Warmer weather means less snow and more rain will fall on the mountains during the winter. The quick runoff must be managed in a way that preserves it for use in the summer.

“We need groundwater recharge because we're losing the snow pack quicker than we thought we would,” Bales said.

The new California water narrative has prompted scientists and policymakers to take a serious look at the potential for “flood-managed aquifer recharge” or Flood-MAR. Flood-MAR is a management strategy that uses water from rain or snowmelt to flood agricultural lands and working landscapes, such as refuges, floodplains and flood bypasses.

Successful implementation of Flood-MAR requires the identification of land for groundwater recharge, understanding the economic and agronomic impact of using agricultural land for recharge, and impacts of high-volume recharge on groundwater quality. But the potential is enormous.

“The state's underground basins are capable of storing 500 million acre-feet of water,” said Graham Fogg, UC Davis professor of hydrogeology. “That's like 500 Folsom reservoirs.”

Though the enormity of rewriting the California water story might seem an insurmountable challenge, panelist Debbie Franco noted that the passage of Sustainable Groundwater Management in 2014 happened when the state's unsustainable reliance of groundwater spiked during the 2011-2016 drought, reducing municipal water quality, drying domestic wells and causing land to sink.

“What seems impossible, after four years of drought, can be possible,” Franco said. “What will be the next thing? Get a sense of the solutions now.”

Posted on Wednesday, October 31, 2018 at 1:09 PM
Focus Area Tags: Natural Resources

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