Posts Tagged: Oak Woodlands
The 8th California Oak Symposium is scheduled to be held March 22-25, 2021, at Embassy Suites, San Luis Obispo. The theme for the conference is “Sustaining Oak Woodlands Under Current and Future Conditions.”
Presented by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, the 8th California Oak Symposium is intended for anyone involved in research, education, management and conservation of California's oak woodlands. Participants may include foresters, range managers, tribes, arborists, landowners, community groups, land trusts and policymakers.
UC ANR colleagues are invited to share their oak-related work. To propose an oral presentation or poster for consideration, please submit an abstract at http://ucanr.edu/8thoakabstracts by Aug. 10.
View the symposium agenda at http://ucanr.edu/files/331101.docx.
A Symposium Planning Committee and the UC ANR Program Support Unit are organizing the symposium and monitoring the new coronavirus (COVID-19) conditions so conference details may change.
“We will go virtual if COVID-19 regulations are still in place in March,” said Bill Tietje, UC Cooperative Extension specialist and chair of the planning committee.
California oak woodlands are highly prized ecoregions where stately trees, many of them hundreds of years old, are cornerstones of a habitat for wildlife and native plants. Sadly, some of these ecosystems are seriously threatened by exotic pests and diseases, encroachment by less desirable vegetation, and wildfire.
Each year, UC Cooperative Extension hosts workshops to share scientific developments aimed at conserving these important habitats – and the economic value of ranching – on oak woodlands, which are found on the lower elevation slopes of the Sierra Nevada, the Coast Range and other foothill areas of California.
Typically, the workshops are held in person and draw moderate-sized audiences for presentations, questions and answers, and field trips. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's workshop was offered online in April with pre-recorded presentations available for viewing at the participants' convenience and a live question-and-answer session on Zoom.
The retooled event garnered 500 registrants, over 300 views of the YouTube videos and 140 participants in the live Q&A session. The presentations and Q&A session are still available online for future viewing as well.
“People from all walks of life participated, including those with professional and personal interest in oak woodlands,” said Yana Valachovic, UCCE forest advisor in Humboldt and Del Norte counties and a conference organizer.
Presentations at the 2020 conference included the following topics:
Encroachment by Douglas-fir
In Northern California, the biodiversity of oak woodlands is being threatened by Douglas-fir encroachment. The oaks' shade helps the young conifers get established with protection from harsh sun. In time, the fast-growing Douglas-fir trees pierce the oak canopies and begin to crowd out the areas' native understories, which are important for the diversity of birds, mammals and reptiles attracted to oaks.
As the Douglas-fir continue to grow and multiply, they threaten the very lives of the oak trees and the unique ecosystem they dominate.
To better understand the Douglas-fir encroachment, Valachovic established 10 research sites in Humboldt and Mendocino counties to gather information about the fate and the age of oaks. She and her research partners determined the ages of the oaks and firs, and counted the seedlings, saplings, snags and understory vegetation.
“With this research, we were able to demonstrate that even though the oak trees can be smaller in diameter they are much older than the Douglas-fir trees,” Valachovic said. “The encroachment process is happening quickly, and the oaks are falling out of the system.”
The shift appears to have been initiated in the mid-19th and early-20th centuries, coinciding with the Gold Rush and wildfire suppression.
With the data confirming Douglas-fir encroachment, Valachovic turned her attention to oak woodland restoration. At 14 sites in Humboldt and Trinity counties, her team studied the effects of Douglas-fir removal.
“Grasses and forbs under the oaks reestablished. Diameter growth on the oaks increased,” she said.
These research findings contributed directly to changes in policy that had previously limited land owners' ability to remove and sell conifers encroaching on oak woodland. The research also helped create new funding opportunities to support oak woodland restoration and conservation in Northern California.
Case study of oak woodland wildfire recovery
In July 2018, about two-thirds of the 5,289-acre UC Hopland Research and Extension Center was burned by the River Fire.
The transformation of the land, which had likely been without a large wildland fire for at least 100 years, was intense and stressful, said UC Cooperative Extension forest advisor Michael Jones. However, it also provided a unique opportunity for researchers to compare the impact of wildfire on the resiliency of vegetation on grazed and ungrazed oak woodland.
Jones established 35 one-fifth acre research plots at the research center and collected data two months following the fire and one year later. The research will continue in the future to better understand long-term impacts, but Jones was able to share revealing early results at the workshop.
Right after the fire, in severely burned areas areas, the future of the oaks looked ominous. Jones predicted 40% tree mortality.
“The oaks were exposed to persistent, intense heat. They were cooked,” he said. “But two months after the fire, we were already seeing basal sprouts. This was an amazing response by the trees. Oaks are pretty damn tough.”
A year after the fire, surveys showed that tree mortality in the burned areas was 25%, much less than Jones' early predictions. While some management for specific situations in severely burned areas may be necessary – such as removal of hazard trees, reducing fuels in defensible spaces or removal to control invasive species – the results of this work show the trees recover naturally.
“Esthetically, I know these systems aren't as pleasing as they were before, but ecologically, they are healthy and recovering,” he said. “In 100 years, it will look just as good as before the fire.”
Fire impacts in woodland areas previously grazed and not grazed
The fire on the research station also permitted Jones to compare the fire's differing impact on non-grazed and grazed oak woodland. At first, the grazed areas looked almost unscathed with minimal flame scorching on the bark, while an area where the pasture hadn't been grazed for 25 years had evidence of much higher severity fire.
“Grazing is a phenomenal way to help manage fuels,” Jones said. However, the grazed areas displayed ecological shortcomings a year later.
“In grazed pastures, the large mature trees were still alive, but there was no oak regeneration (basal sprouting or seedlings),” Jones said. “In the ungrazed area, a lot of biomass had been killed, but there's nearly 100% resprout of oak trees and we have an impressive amount of oak seedling recruitment.”
Jones said he isn't discouraging grazing.
“But it is important to protect sites from grazing, and especially wildlife browse, when a landowner or land managers' objectives are to regenerate or conserve oak woodlands,” Jones said.
New ambrosia beetle another threat to California oaks
Akif Eskalen, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Plant Pathology at UC Davis, has identified a new insect-fungus team that causes oak borer wilt in Northern California Valley and Blue Oaks. It is an ambrosia beetle, commonly known as Mediterranean Oak Borer, which carries several fungi in its mouth. The beetle bores into the tree and introduces fungi to grow for food. The fungi spreads and disturbs the transportation of water and nutrients, causing wilt in the tree.
The oozing and staining lesions on the bark are similar to other oak fungal diseases, such as Sudden Oak Death. The beetle – native of Mediterranean basin countries in Africa, Asia and Europe – cannot fly far, so most likely is transported for long distances on infested firewood.
During the workshop, Eskalen suggested not moving firewood, removing heavily infested trees and chipping infested wood into 1-inch particles to reduce the spread of the ambrosia beetle and its fungal partner. He asked viewers to report any suspected oak tree infestations to the local agricultural commissioner, CDFA Diagnostic Laboratories, UC Cooperative Extension advisors or CALFIRE. Chemical options for sparing oaks from the ambrosia beetles' devastation are under investigation.
Threats to oaks and other native plants from root rotting Phytophthora
Restoration plantings have inadvertently introduced plant pathogens to native oak woodland ecosystems in California, said Ted Swiecki of Phytosphere Research, an organization that provides consulting services related to natural resource management, horticulture, urban forestry, and agriculture. The group of pathogens causing the damage are largely from the Phytophthora genus, first described in the 1860s. The name translates from Greek to “plant destroyer.”
Swiecki has observed when Phytophthora infested plants and soils are introduced to native habitats, the pathogens can attack various native plants, including toyon, madrone, manzanita and full-grown oaks. Once established, the pathogen can spread along drainages, by moving soil from one area to another and by hitchhiking on equipment, tires and hiking boots.
The pathogen can easily be overlooked at nurseries, which, by their nature, have conditions that favor Phytophthora development. Plants at nurseries are well watered, have high root density and are often placed on the ground where they can pick up pathogens.
He said the best approach to tackling Phytophthora is not using nursery stock for restoration or beautification of natural oak woodland. Direct seeding, using natural regeneration, or onsite propagation are safer ways to enhance vegetation in oak woodland.
“It's easier to prevent Phytophthora from being introduced in the first place and much cheaper and more effective than trying to eradicate it later,” Siewcki said.
ANR's budget is tight this year, but we don't have a budget crisis, VP Glenda Humiston emphasized during the ANR town hall on Aug. 15. In addition to the budget update, Humiston discussed UCPath, which launches on Oct. 1, and answered ANR members' questions during the 78-minute online meeting that was scheduled for an hour.
ANR's budget remained at $72.6 million for FY 2019-20, the same as last year, while expenses including salaries and benefits have increased nearly $5 million. She shared the good news that President Janet Napolitano will provide ANR with $2.2 million to help cover some of the shortfall the flat budget has created.
Despite the tight budget, Humiston reiterated ANR's commitment to continuing salary equity programs.
“ANR people are our most important resource, they are our infrastructure, so to speak, because without our people we can't do extension, we can't do research,” she said.
In addition to the one-time $2.2 million supplement, ANR will also receive $19 million to help with deferred maintenance.
“This is a huge increase over the roughly $700K we typically receive per year,” Humiston said, noting that the $19 million designated for capital projects cannot be spent for anything else. “We will also have access to more funding for this critical need as part of the General Obligation Bond that will be on next year's ballot.”
She also addressed concerns about the number of UC Cooperative Extension academics.
“Despite a 20-year slide in funding from the state and federal government, we have been able to retain academic numbers through partnering more on shared appointments and redirection of administrative funds to programs. I'm very proud to say that the graph of our academic footprint has not been dropping the past 4 years.”
She pointed out that the state had been cutting funding for the entire UC system. The campuses are able to increase tuition fees to make up the difference while ANR depends on contracts, grants, private giving and other new funding sources. Humiston encouraged everyone to work with Development Services for support in securing more funding. She also urged everyone to tell stakeholders about the value of ANR's work for California.
“There is nothing, nothing good about being the best kept secret out there,” Humiston said.
“All of you do fantastic work. We've got to let our stakeholders know that and we also need to let them know about our budget situation.”
UCPath launches Oct. 1
John Fox, director of Human Resources, reminded everyone that UCPath will officially launch next month. As part of the transition, the AYSO website will become view-only for personal information, tax withholding, and benefits on Aug. 30; all future changes will have to be made in the UCPath portal when it goes live Sept. 27.
The first paychecks from the new UCPath system will be issued on Oct. 1 for monthly paid employees, and on Oct. 2 for bi-weekly paid employees. Fox emphasized that meeting timesheet deadlines is critical in ensure accurate and timely pay in the new system.
As UCPath goes live, the UC ANR Beehive – a team of people who have been involved in the project – will be available to academics and staff to help troubleshoot.
Visit the UC ANR UCPath website at http://ucpath.ucanr.edu to preview the employee self-service portal and get answers to frequently asked questions. Comments and questions can be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q & A
The following are some questions that were asked during the town hall:
Can you provide the actual budget numbers behind the charts and power point slides that were shared by Glenda to the CDs in January as well as current budget numbers?
Yes, we can provide the numbers. See the pie charts at the bottom of the one-page budget handout. We will post more budget information in a separate story.
When will we find out about professional development funds?
At the time of the call, AVP Wendy Powers had not received her budget letter. She expects the amount of professional development funds to be the same as last year and to announce within the next two weeks.
Did (or will) the ANR budget challenges impact decisions on academics' merit/promotion/accelerations?
No. While the budget situation may impact the amount of money for salary equity programs or the increase to base scales (3% for CE Advisors and CE Specialists), it does not influence the merit and promotion decisions. Every year the percent of successful merits and promotions varies, as does the number of requests submitted and what requests are made. High level data suggest that this year's success rate is within the range since 2016. That high level data will be shared with the Academic Assembly Council for broader distribution.
When is leadership going to update and improve ANR maternity leave policy, same for paternity leave. When will leadership begin to better align vacation for staff with vacation for academics?
UC ANR leadership does not have the authority to unilaterally change leave policies for our employees. We are part of the UC system. Policies for academics and staff are consistent across the system, and changes generally would have to be approved by the President or the Regents.
When will we see/hear about the new communication strategy being created by our new communication leader?
A working strategic communications plan has been developed. Strategic Communications and Publishing are embarking on a combined strategic planning effort in September to develop longer-term strategies.
Why do we not have a map of specialists and advisors that serve our state on our website?
Informatics and GIS has created two maps. The storymap at http://arcg.is/0yWGfj can be used to quickly see where academic personnel covering specific subjects are located around the state. The UCANR Personnel Filtering App at https://arcg.is/0XHSXb can be used to query and visualize the data more fully. A short video (https://goo.gl/dzykqK) walks through the different features of the UCANR Personnel Filtering App.
How can we attract and retain talent for co-funded advisor positions when they have no indefinite status? How can co-funded academics maintain academic freedom when their position is tied to specific funding partners and their priorities?
For some time now, UC ANR has had two CE Advisors who are very talented and do not have indefinite status. We have successfully retained those individuals. More recently, we have attracted six more talented CE advisors into co-funded positions. All of these positions were filled upon the initial search.
Senior leadership is proud to have these people in these key positions, as are our funding partners. They are here now and there is no evidence that retention is an issue. There is no evidence that academic freedom is compromised. All of our academics are expected to work with stakeholders to identify their priority needs.
Are ANR staff encouraged to contact their local legislative representative to discuss ANR's contribution to California's leading ag industry?
You may and should educate and inform elected state and federal officials and their staff of the work you do in their districts. As UC employees, we cannot take positions on bills or ask for budgetary support without the expressed consent of the UC Office of the President. For more information, please contact Anne Megaro, director of government and community relations, and read the one-pager at http://ucanr.edu/sites/Professional_Development/files/293044.pdf.
A recording of the 78-minute town hall is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62WrjR1Il7w.
Nouri named UCCE orchard systems advisor for San Joaquin County
Mohamed Nouri joined UC Cooperative Extension on July 1, 2019, as an orchard systems advisor serving San Joaquin County. Nouri will address production and pest management issues in walnuts and sweet cherries, as well as apples, oil olives, and several smaller-acreage crops. Because San Joaquin County is the statewide leader in both cherry and walnut production, Nouri will become a regional and statewide leader within ANR for these crops.
Prior to joining ANR, Nouri worked for UC Davis as a graduate student and postdoctoral researcher at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center from 2015 to 2019. Working closely with UCCE specialists, UCCE farm advisors, pest control advisers and farmers, Nouri studied fungal diseases of major fruit and nut crops, including olive, pistachio, sweet cherry, citrus, almond and grape. He oversaw the plant disease diagnostic services for perennial fruit and nut crops in California and management tasks for the laboratory.
Conducting his research in California, Nouri earned a Ph.D. in plant pathology from University of Tunis El Manar, where he also earned an M.S. in microbiology and plant pathology and a B.S. in life and earth sciences. Nouri is fluent in Arabic and French.
Nouri is based in Stockton and can be reached at (209) 953-6115 and email@example.com.
Matias joins UCCE as nutrition specialist
Susana Matias joined UC Cooperative Extension on July 1, 2019, as an assistant specialist in the UC Berkeley Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology. She has several years of experience in public health nutrition and a profile that blends nutrition, epidemiology and psychology. Her research interests include maternal and child nutrition, immigrant health, food security, obesity and diabetes prevention, and nutritional and behavioral interventions. Her extension efforts focus on promoting healthy nutrition at the regional and local levels, and on expanding the role of nutrition within the delivery of primary care.
Prior to joining UCCE, Matias was a research scientist at the California Department of Public Health and a specialist at UC San Francisco. From 2013 to 2018, she worked as an assistant project scientist at the UC Davis Department of Nutrition. Matias, who is fluent in Spanish, has authored an extensive list of scientific papers and technical reports.
She earned a Ph.D. in epidemiology with designated emphasis in international and community nutrition from UC Davis. She holds a M.A. in educational psychology and a B.A. in psychology from Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú.
Matias is based in Morgan Hall at UC Berkeley, and can be reached at (510) 642-0980 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eftekhari named chief of staff to VP
Kathy Eftekhari joined UC ANR as the vice president's new chief of staff on Aug. 19, 2019.
As chief of staff, Eftekhari will provide leadership and managerial support to the division and will be a member of the UC ANR Core Leadership Team. Her professional experience includes more than 25 years successfully managing programmatic, financial and human resource operations within higher education, and in private and nonprofit organizations across the U.S. and abroad. She has considerable experience in economic and community development.
Eftekhari comes to UC ANR from the Strategy and Program Management Office at the UC Office of the President, where she has served as a senior organizational consultant for the past six years. In this role, she was responsible for the development and facilitation of the UCOP strategic planning process and has also successfully led a number of UCOP and systemwide initiatives. Co-facilitating UC ANR's strategic planning process in 2016, she became familiar with UC ANR's high-level goals and challenges.
She holds a B.A. in liberal studies, an M.A. in educational administration, and a Ph.D. in education with an emphasis on research and policy analysis, all from UC Berkeley.
Eftekhari is based in room 10204 at UCOP and can be reached at (510) 987-0980 and Kathy.Eftekhari@ucop.edu.
Sapeta named director of Facilities Planning and Management
Bartlomiej (Bart) Sapeta joined UC ANR as director of Facilities Planning and Management Aug. 7. In this role, he will work with ANR units such as the Research Extension Centers and other ANR-owned and leased facilities across the state to plan and execute maintenance and capital renewal work.
Sapeta is a licensed architect and a former project manager with over a decade of experience in design, renovation, repurposing, master planning, historic preservation of buildings for civic, community, and education markets.
Most recently, Sapeta was a city councilor for the City of Keene, NH, and a tenured associate professor of architecture at Keene State College. He also served as a client representative on several capital improvement projects for Keene State, and has extensive experience in design and building.
Sapeta earned his M.A. in historic preservation from Plymouth State University, Plymouth, NH, Master of Architecture and Engineering from Wroclaw University of Science and Technology, Wroclaw, Poland, and Bachelor of Architecture from Drury University, Springfield, Mo.
In his role as director of Facilities Planning and Management, Sapeta will report to Tu Tran, AVP for Business Operations, and with appropriate delegation of authority will be the appointed Building Official for the Division.
Sapeta is based in the ANR Building in Davis and can be reached at (530) 750-1292 or email@example.com.
Freutel joins CalNat in Southern California
Eliot Freutel joined the California Naturalist Program as a community education specialist on March 12, 2019, to advance new and continuing CalNat programs in Southern California.
Freutel has extensive experience working in marine environments as an outdoor education instructor. Prior to joining UC ANR, he was an educator and climate resilience coordinator for the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. In that capacity, he developed two community outreach programs focused on bringing climate resilience strategies to underserved community members. For over 10 years, he worked on Catalina Island with the Long Beach Marine Institute as an outdoor education instructor, teaching students about the ecology of the island.
He earned his B.A. in translation and interpretation for Spanish and English at California State University Long Beach. He is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, a shark and marine ecology expert, and happiest when he is outdoors or underwater.
Freutel is based in the UCCE office in Alhambra and can be reached at (626) 586-1985 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ferguson named ASHS president-elect
Louise Ferguson, UC Cooperative Extension pomology specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, is the new president-elect of the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS), a professional academic society.
Ferguson's research and extension work is in fruit and nut trees, including pistachios, olives, figs, citrus and other subtropical fruit crops. She works with Cooperative Extension farm advisors and growers throughout California to establish research and outreach programs that support the fruit and nut industry. Among her many accomplishments, she is also a core faculty member in the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation program.
Acclaimed for her international agricultural development work in Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, and Pakistan, Ferguson is also recognized as an international leader in knowledge extension related to fruit tree crop production in many countries around the world.
Her appointment began in July at the ASHS annual conference in Las Vegas. Following the upcoming year as president-elect, board member and executive committee member, Ferguson will serve for a year as ASHS President, and a third year as chair of the ASHS Board of Directors. – Ann Filmer
How do you achieve this? Communicate with all audiences throughout the year, not just during times of need. This helps form relationships as well as a deeper understanding of what it is that you do and how your work impacts the local community. This helps build a lasting relationship and a desire to support your research, programming, and services.
How should you educate elected officials?
As university employees, we may indicate our needs and ask for support with many audiences (e.g. funding organizations, boards of supervisors, donors, etc.) but we must take into consideration other factors when talking to elected state or federal officials or their staff members.
We can, and should, educate and inform elected state and federal officials and their staff of the work UC ANR does in their districts. However, we cannot take positions on bills or ask for budgetary support without the expressed consent from the UC Office of the President. Only the regents, who have delegated authority to President Napolitano, can determine UC's official position on legislative issues.
So, what can you do if you can't ask for money?
Share the impact of your work. Be specific! Tell a story and use UC ANR's public value statements to guide you. Sometimes a personal story about an individual who benefited from your work is easier to remember, and more moving, than total program impact to an entire community. For example, talk about your work solving a problem with a specific farmer and how it improved their bottom line, share a 4-H youth project, talk about working with a specific community partner and describe how you worked together to achieve a shared goal. Did you promote economic prosperity, develop a qualified workforce, or promote healthy people and communities? Did your partners save money? Did more 4-H youth go to college? Did participants lead healthier lives?
If we fine-tune the way we message our story and impacts, we can ensure that UC ANR will become widely known as the face of UC in communities throughout California.
For more information, see my one-pager at http://ucanr.edu/sites/Professional_Development/files/293044.pdf. Feel free to contact me at (530) 750-1218 or email@example.com.