Posts Tagged: wildfire
Rose Hayden-Smith, UC Cooperative Extension digital communications in food systems & extension educator, talked with Matthew Shapero about his work protecting California's natural resources. This is the second in a series featuring a few scientists whose work exemplifies UC ANR's public value for California.
Matthew Shapero is originally from California and has worked as an ANR Cooperative Extension livestock and range advisor since September 2017, based in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Matthew attended Columbia University and completed a Master of Science in range management from UC Berkeley. Prior to joining ANR, he farmed on the East Coast and in Nevada County, where he ran a ranch. His current research and Extension program focuses on several issues, including prescribed fire and how to prepare for and respond to wildfire. You can follow Matthew on Facebook and Instagram.
Tell us about your current research and Extension projects
I could certainly use the old ranching metaphor: “Way too many irons in the fire.” As a beginning advisor, one says “yes” to things that seem interesting and have promise, but projects develop in their own time. I'm currently working a great deal on wildfire issues, including prescribed fire and fire recovery. There's a need for long-term research to look at the effects of grazing as part of post-fire recovery. I am working with five ranches that experienced fire, and considering how land managers and agencies might be thinking about grazing and post wildfire recovery.
I'm also doing some research on soil seed bank, with a focus on how fire intensity impacts rangeland seed bank. [Editor's Note: “Soil seed bank” refers to the natural storage of seeds – often dormant – within the soil of ecosystems.]
Has thinking evolved on prescribed fire?
It has. I received an M.S. degree in range management from UC Berkeley. The program didn't cover much of the research and practices around prescribed fire, because it seemed to be an unrealistic land management tool in today's day and age. The Thomas fire occurred in December 2017, just three months after I started my work as a Cooperative Extension advisor. I've seen the political winds shift since then; prescribed fire has become much more palatable in this area since Thomas, as a technique to proactively deal with the threat of catastrophic wildfire.
There's a relatively short window (a couple of months annually) where the conditions and circumstances are aligned for prescribed burning. In Fall 2018, I was involved in a prescribed burn of 380 acres using a type of private burn permitting that hadn't been used in a long time. As a Cooperative Extension advisor, I played a relatively important role in connecting the dots and helping that burn get up and off the ground. Part of my work is nudging people, following up, connecting people. I think my work is a good example of how a Cooperative Extension advisor inserts himself/herself into the process. With ranchers, private landowners, county fire agencies and others involved, there is a need for good communication.
In the aftermath of that burn, I organized an event for elected officials, agency heads, and other decision makers to visit the prescribed burn site. It was helpful for them.
My program covers Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, which have different histories with prescribed fire. Santa Barbara County has had a strong range improvement association from the 1950s through the present, which conducted prescribed burns at a significant rate up through the 1990s. For example, between 1955 and 1964, this association burned over 100,000 acres in private land, with little assistance from the county fire department.
This is in contrast to Ventura County, which has less of a surviving rancher-led burn culture. While producers burned within the county, there is no formal existing organization that plans and executes burns. I've been helping to revive burn culture in Santa Barbara County, but there's been less to draw on in Ventura County. Both have county fire agencies instead of CalFIRE. They are supportive of private-led burning, but to actually implement prescribed burns is easier in Santa Barbara County than in Ventura County. Ranchers and private landowners in Santa Barbara are more comfortable with fire, and many have some of the resources required (water tending trucks, drip torches, flamethrowers, etc.). We're building momentum, though, and the conversation has shifted since the Thomas Fire.
Did the Thomas Fire change perceptions about the value of ranchland in Southern California?
The Thomas Fire demonstrated that even if you live in a city or suburb, the way natural resources are managed impacts you. Livestock production is not an agricultural sector that generates a lot of gross revenue (it barely registers in the list of top 10 crops by revenue in each county), but it has great spatial impact. How it is managed impacts water quality, wildlife habitat, and the view those living on the peri-urban interface enjoy. There is important public and economic value in the way rangelands are managed.
What are the challenges facing the ranching industry in Southern California?
The challenges the ranching industry faces in Southern California aren't necessarily new. I recently came across an Extension research bulletin published in 1972 that explained how Santa Barbara County was trialing new nitrogen fertilizer on rangeland. My predecessors identified “rising taxes and land scarcity” as challenges facing ranchers, and these things would still hold true.
These challenges are not unique in California, but the impact may feel different here. The Southern California counties in particular have a long and deep ranching history that was defined in many ways by Spanish ranchos.
The industry is potentially at a critical breaking point, though. It's not just land, but the lack of supporting infrastructure. For example, it's much more difficult to get cattle trucks down here; the nearest approved USDA slaughter house is hours away, and the nearest sale yard is in Kern or Monterey County. In Santa Barbara County, there is increasing pressure for land conversion and land use change. Many individuals are interested in creating vineyards and estates, which is breaking up and making into smaller parcels larger ranches, so that they can no longer be run profitably as livestock operations.
In an optimistic sense, there has been a shift in public opinion over the last 20 years about ranching. At one time, ranching was vilified as being harmful to land, especially public lands. The Bay Area has had more sophisticated conversations about how ranching and environmentalism can co-exist, and what the co-benefits are.
There is every reason to think that the conversation around ranching will mature and become more nuanced in Southern California as well. Topics such as water quality and endangered species - which seemed like flashpoints and a source of friction – have given way to discussions that identify areas of co-benefit. Ranchers do so much for wildlife in keeping rangelands open and undeveloped. But they are often targeted with what they regard as unfair legislation around fencing and vegetation removal. Urban public opinion should recognize the value of keeping ranchers on the land.
Why are you working for Cooperative Extension?
I'm interested in the public value aspects of the work. Traditionally, Cooperative Extension measured the impact of our work by the increase of forage grown per acre, or the number of pounds of beef extracted from a ranch. While those things are important, I see our role expanding. In addition to increasing agricultural production, my work is also about the potential to engage on policy and on a cultural level.
Livestock advisors throughout the state are an important point of nexus in terms of communicating the value of ecosystems management. We are often the connection between the broader general public and an agricultural constituency. I spend a lot of my time translating how and why ranching benefits the general public, why cattle might be good for the planet (not bad), and why cattle have ecosystem benefits for rangelands. I find as much as my work is increasing and improving herd health, it is also lubricating public policy discussions, and providing analysis that has benefits for ranchers and the general public.
Extension grounds positions in science and through neutrality. There is an important role for Extension in facilitating the conversations that identify mutual benefits.
On a crisp and clear morning late last year, around 20 volunteer firefighters, landowners and community members gathered on a plot of land outside of the small rural community of Kneeland in Humboldt County. They listened intently to detailed instructions on how to safely burn 20 acres of private property that gradually rises on a hill before them. The volunteers gathered to learn how to successfully undertake a prescribed burn. It was all part of the ongoing education and training being conducted by Humboldt County's Prescribed Burn Association – the first of its kind west of the Rockies.
Lenya Quinn-Davidson and Jeffery Stackhouse, who both work for the UC Cooperative Extension in Humboldt County, developed the program in 2017 and have seen it steadily grow ever since. The association is comprised of landowners, nonprofits, volunteer firefighters and other community members who work together to carry out prescribed burns on private land. Until the association was created, most landowners and community members had lacked access to prescribed burn information and training.
“Fire is a natural part of California's landscape. Prescribed fire is a way for us to bring fire back to the landscape as a natural process under controlled conditions. We can choose the weather, we can choose how it's going to burn,” says Quinn-Davidson. “Private landowners have largely been left out of the fire picture and we realize that is a big part of the problem.”
The goal of the prescribed burn on that October day was to eliminate an invasive type of tree that was overtaking the grassy hill and restore the land to a state where native oaks can thrive once again. The property owners are receiving the same training as the volunteer firefighters on hand. Beyond eliminating invasive species, the association is utilizing prescribed burns to reduce fuels to prevent future wildfires, as well as restore wildlife habitat. But most importantly, the training and education empowers landowners and others to reconnect with fire as a management tool.
Will Emerson is an assistant fire chief for the volunteer Bell Springs Fire Department in northern Mendocino County. He and his three colleagues made the 2.5-hour trip to participate in the prescribed burn training session in Humboldt County. He sees the trainings as a “really great experience” for volunteer fire departments, some of which have new trainees who have never worked a fire before.
“It's excellent training for them — just to get comfortable working with fire,” Emerson says.
The concept of a prescribed burn association is catching on. Quinn-Davidson and Stackhouse have presented the Humboldt County model to numerous counties around the state, and new associations are cropping up around California.
“We use our program to train people, to inspire people, to empower people,” Quinn-Davidson says.
The value of Humboldt County's Prescribed Burn Association goes beyond the training it provides. Quinn-Davidson and Stackhouse view the association as a “community cooperative,” bringing together groups that have traditionally been at odds. At any training session you may find volunteers from the ranching or timber industry, environmentalists or cannabis growers.
“Instead of being on opposite sides of an issue, people are gaining understanding for the other side,” Stackhouse says. “It has opened the door for real, honest communication between different groups that otherwise would not be happening. Having people work together who have been on different sides of the community really is amazing.”
Quinn-Davidson agrees. “We are building community and we are using fire as this positive, synergistic thing,” she concludes. “And I feel so positive about it.”
The CSAC Challenge Awards were created in the early 1990s to recognize county innovation and best practices. Humboldt County's Prescribed Burn Association is a recipient of a 2019 CSAC Challenge Award – one of only 18 Challenge Awards presented statewide out of 284 entries.
To view a video of this program on YouTube, click here.
UPDATED: Viticultural area is Kelsey Bench, not Kelseyville Bench.
UC Cooperative Extension study shows smoke damage to grapes not uniform across vineyards
By the time the Mendocino Complex Fires were officially contained on Oct. 4, 2018, five weeks after igniting, they had burned approximately 450,000 acres in Colusa, Lake, Glenn and Mendocino counties, making it the largest wildfire in California history, according to CalFire.
The fire not only destroyed 280 homes and other buildings, its smoke destroyed the market for wine grapes grown in vineyards near burned areas.
Fearing grapes near the fire would impart smoke flavors to the wine, some wineries rejected all fruit from nearby regions of Lake County and Potter Valley, leaving grape growers to hastily find new destinations for their 2018 crop.
“It can be difficult to determine if fruit has been compromised in quality when exposed to wildfire smoke, and whether or not smoke flavors will result in wine when fermented,” said Glenn McGourty, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Mendocino County.
A new UC Cooperative Extension study shows wind direction and speed, temperature and a vineyard's proximity to an active fire are factors that can help growers and winemakers predict smoke damage to fruit.
“Fruit in my own vineyard, 60 feet across the street from where the fire started, had no smoke damage because the wind was blowing away from it,” McGourty said.
Due to the Mendocino Complex Fires, an estimated $41 million worth of winegrapes, which would have been sold at full price, were impacted – some were sold at a discount, some were sold to other customers, some were custom crushed, while some were left hanging in the vineyard, according to the Lake County Winegrape Commission and Mendocino County Farm Bureau.
The wine industry needed a scientific method of determining whether grapes could be made into a wine untainted by smoke. With funding from the Lake County Winegrape Commission, McGourty formed a workgroup of local growers and winemakers with Anita Olberholster, UC Cooperative Extension enology specialist in the Department of Viticulture & Enology at UC Davis, to research when fruit quality has been compromised.
“The need for industry standards regarding the impact of wildland smoke on winegrapes and the resulting wines has become even more pressing over the past few years,” said Debra Sommerfield, president of the Lake County Winegrape Commission.
Science showed the intensity, duration and timing of the exposure to wildfire smoke affects the grape's uptake. Generally, the closer to harvest, the greater risk to the fruit.
“Both the fruit and wine samples in our study showed a wide range of volatile phenol and glycocide concentrations, indicating that smoke damage to fruit was not uniform across the vineyards sampled,” McGourty said.
Volatile phenols and glycosides create off-flavors
Fresh smoke contains volatile phenols and glycosides that can affect fruit, but these chemicals tend to dissipate in the atmosphere in 1 to 2 hours. Vineyards close to actively burning fires and in the path of fresh smoke are most likely to be affected by smoke taint. Smoke that travels long distances is less likely to affect grapes and the wine made from the fruit.
The combination of volatile phenols and glycosides create “smoke taint” – both aromatic and tactile in the mouth. Wine drinkers may smell smoke or other off flavors and experience a drying of their mouth when high concentrations of the chemicals are present in wine.
“At lower concentrations, smoke taint reminds you of brett-affected wines,” Oberholster explained, referring to the yeast brettanomyces. “There is a shortness of fruit, a kind of dryness in the mouth that you know isn't normal. There may be barely perceptible aromas that aren't normal as well.”
Following wildfire smoke exposure, the researchers sampled fruit from 14 cabernet sauvignon vineyards around the viticultural areas of Lake County, including Upper Lake, High Valley, Big Valley, Kelsey Bench, Red Hills, Lower Lake and Guenoc Valley. As a control, fruit was also sampled from a Napa Valley vineyard that was not exposed to wildfire smoke.
“The volatile phenols guaiacol and 4-methyl guaiacol are detected in the fruit by gas chromatography, so it is possible to sample fruit before harvest to make picking decisions,” McGourty said. “Based on our study, berry sampling and guaiacol/ 4-methyl guaiacol analysis are useful for a quick evaluation of whether or not fruit from a particular vineyard may have the presence of volatile phenols that can potentially result in smoke-affected wine.”
Testing the fruit for volatile phenols and glycosides is both expensive and not completely predictive as standards are not well defined for damage based on smoke chemical concentration, he cautioned.
These two compounds aren't the only ones that cause smoke flavors. More than 70 other compounds in forest fire smoke can also produce undesirable flavors and odors described as “like licking an ash tray, burnt garbage, a burnt potato, a campfire that has been drenched with water.”
The taste test
To assess the levels of the compounds that produce the off-flavors, Oberholster convened a panel of 14 wine industry professionals to taste the sample wines. The wine tasters detected stronger off-flavors in the wines made from riper fruit, which also contained higher concentration of smoke compounds. Less than 6 micrograms per liter of the smoke compounds were difficult for the tasters to detect, leading the researchers to conclude they will have a minimal effect on wine quality.
Smoke from a distant fire
The scientists also looked at the influence of distance from the fire and elevation on smoke taint. They found some vineyards close to the edge of fires and immediately downwind were heavily affected, with the grapes containing high concentrations of the smoke flavor-causing compounds. But they determined elevation was not a factor in smoke flavors in wines.
Wind direction and speed, temperature and vineyard proximity to active fires are highly likely affect whether there will be smoke damage to the fruit, their research showed.
“Smoke generated in the first one or two hours from a wildfire is most damaging to nearby vineyards,” McGourty said. “Even though a vineyard may be enveloped in smoke, if the source of the smoke is from a distant fire, it will probably won't seriously damage the fruit quality because most of the volatile gases are gone.”
Lake County Winegrape Commission's Sommerfield said, “Today, the results of this study are already proving to be useful in deepening our understanding of smoke and the risks it poses to grapes and wine, in enabling grape growers and winery buyers to engage in fruitful discussions and make informed decisions, and, in turn, in helping to propel the development of industry standards and protocols.”
To read more about the study by McGourty, Michael I. Jones, Oberholster and Ryan Keiffer, see the January 2020 edition of Wine Business Monthly at https://www.winebusiness.com/wbm.
“This is a great little study, the first one that I know of that takes a systems approach to evaluating the effects of wildfire smoke,” said McGourty.
Glenn McGourty, UCCE viticulture advisor for Mendocino County, describes for Hannah Bird the UC project to analyze the effect of wildfire smoke on winegrapes.
Are Blackouts Here to Stay? A Look into the Future
(E&E News) Anne C. Mulkern, Nov. 15
…Throughout the United States, between roughly 2000 and 2010, about 75% of homes that burned in wildfires were located in the WUI, said Van Butsic, a land use specialist at the University of California, Berkeley. The rest was mostly in rural areas, with about 2% in cities.
People go back after they lose homes, Butsic said. He surveyed the 28 largest fires in California from about 1975 to 2005, and through aerial photos tracked what was rebuilt. About 90% of destroyed homes were rebuilt within a decade, he found. New homes also filled in large tracts of undeveloped land in formerly burned areas.
Climate Considerations for Processing Tomatoes
(AgNet West) Nov. 15
Research models show that increases in overall temperatures in California will have a direct effect on how some crops are going to be produced in the future. In one study looking at processing tomato production in the Central Valley, researchers found that changing temperatures will likely have a noticeable impact on the timing of the growing season.
“We looked at the data all the way starting from 1950, into the future by 2030-2040 and see how the time of maturity is changing,” said Tapan Pathak, UC Specialist in Climate Adaptation in Agriculture. “What we saw is, in general the time from emergence to maturity, the timeframe for processing tomatoes in that region, is going to shrink down almost by two to three weeks.”
What's Growing On: American rose trials test sustainability
(Stockton Record) Marcy Sousa, Nov. 15
Did you know San Joaquin County Master Gardeners have been part of a National Rose Trial since 2018? The trial is part of the American Rose Trials for Sustainability (A.R.T.S.) program that has trial sites across the United States. It was initiated in 2012 by individuals representing multiple rose stakeholder groups, including: industry, the scientific community and public gardens. There are only two Mediterranean climate trial locations and both are in California. The trials at the Fullerton Arboretum started in 2019 and the UC Cooperative Extension office in San Joaquin County began in 2018.
…Our Environmental Horticulture Advisor, Karrie Reid, has been managing and overseeing the trial since 2018. Our roses were planted in unused turf areas that were converted to the trial grounds. One of the selling features of converting the turf sections was the calculated water savings: 3,656 square feet of turf used 103,000 gallons of water, while 60 roses in the same area on drip use 6,175 gallons, a 94 percent savings. Trial sites are covered with a 3-inch layer of wood mulch.
Report: California ag is a major economic driver for the state
(Agri-Pulse West) Brad Hooker, Nov. 13
A new report by the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) adds new dimensions to the “massive economic juggernaut” of the California agricultural industry. The findings reveal that agriculture contributed more than $263 billion to the economy in 2018 through direct sales and employed more than 1.2 million people, while benefiting urban and rural regions alike.
The report examines the entire “working landscape,” which also includes fishing, forestry, mining, outdoor recreation and renewable energy, in addition to agricultural distribution, production, processing and support. Together, the sectors represent $333 billion in sales, 1.5 million jobs and 6.4% of the total California economy, outranking the healthcare, real estate, construction and retail sectors. Agriculture accounted for 85% of the working landscape businesses and 79% of the sales income. According to ANR Vice President Glenda Humiston, the working landscape likely surpasses the finance sector as well.
UCCE Addressing Watergrass Issues in California Rice Fields
(AgNet West) Brian German, Nov. 13
Researchers from UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) are looking closely at the watergrass issues in California rice fields to get a better understanding of the problem. Watergrass has historically been a fairly common weed species that growers face, however in recent years the issue has been compounded by a number of factors. Several watergrass species have demonstrated resistance to the materials available and it appears that one or two new species may have emerged.
“In the past few years watergrass is becoming more and more of a problem, whether it's the ones that we know that we have or these possible new species,” said Whitney Brim-DeForest, UC Rice Farm Advisor serving Sutter, Yuba, Placer, and Sacramento Counties. “It's just becoming more difficult to control with the herbicides that we have.”
Experts Warn Of Surge In Sudden Oak Death Infections In North Bay
(KPIX) Wilson Walker, Nov. 12
“And then, of course, these limbs that have just fallen off,” said Kerry Wininger of UC Cooperative Extension as he stood beneath a dying tree in Sonoma County's Fairfield Osborn Preserve. “And big patches will come out at once.”
Wininger is with the UC team working to measure the problem, and the numbers are up dramatically. She oversees a yearly survey conducted by volunteer citizen scientists.
…“For Sonoma County in general, Sudden Oak Death numbers look about double where they were last year,” said Wininger. “So it's actually increasing at a rate a little bit faster than we would expect.”
Shelter exercise at the fairgrounds
(Appeal Democrat) Ruby Larson, Nov. 12
Some Glenn County agencies came together at the Glenn County Fairgrounds to participate in a shelter management training exercise last week.
…Travis said agencies that participated included Health and Human Services, sheriff's office, animal control, UC Cooperative Extension and North Valley Animal Disaster Group.
California's Wildfire Policy Totally Backfired. Native Communities Know How to Fix It.
(Mother Jones) Delilah Friedler, Nov. 11
…“We aren't anywhere near bringing fire back at the scale we need to,” says Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a fire advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension who helped lead that burn. “It's important to push forward with a grassroots model that empowers people to do the work, instead of having bottlenecks with the agency that's in charge.”
The Humboldt County Prescribed Burn Association, which Quinn-Davidson leads, was the first organization of its kind in the West when it started in 2018, and has already inspired similar groups to start up in northern California's Plumas, Nevada, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties. These groups bring landowners and neighbors together to provide the manpower that controlled burns require. Quinn-Davidson says she's hosted 25 lecture and field-based workshops in the past year to increase people's comfort with prescribed fire, and in the past two years, she's led 20 burns on private lands.
Zediker honored as CattleWoman of the year
(Siskiyou Daily News) Nov. 10
Siskiyou County native Jacki Zediker was honored on Saturday, Oct. 26 as the 2019 Siskiyou County CattleWoman of the Year during the annual Cattlemen and CattleWomen's dinner in Yreka.
… Zediker has been the 4-H Youth Development Program Representative with the UC Cooperative Extension in Siskiyou County for more than 20 years, and has served as the regional coordinator for the North State counties in recent years, the CattleWomen said.
Insect entrepreneurs use almond hulls as feed source for bugs
(Daily Democrat) Ching Lee, Nov. 8
…Maurice Pitesky, a UC Cooperative Extension veterinarian and specialist in poultry health and food-safety epidemiology, conducted an experiment two years ago on pastured layers, feeding up to 20% of the birds' diet with soldier fly larvae “with no change in welfare, egg quality, mortality.” The larvae feed provides methionine, an essential amino acid for poultry, and has “significant potential” to increase poultry production while freeing “more corn and soy calories for humans,” he said, though he warned of two caveats: economics and consistency of manufacturing the feed.
Paradise rebuilds, but fire safety sometimes takes a back seat to economic realities
(LA Times) Laura Newberry, Nov. 8
…“Having this zone right next to a building is pretty important,” said Steve Quarles, a senior scientist with the Institute for Business & Home Safety who studied homes in Paradise after the fire. “No matter what the homeowner does in terms of vegetation management on the property, embers can blow over and ignite that woodpile next to the house.”
For the Record (LA Times) Nov. 12
Camp fire: In the Nov. 8 Section A, an article looking at the changes in Paradise, Calif., since the Camp fire a year earlier misidentified Steve Quarles as a senior scientist with the Institute for Business & Home Safety. Quarles has retired from that post and now serves as a UC Cooperative Extension advisor emeritus.
Sudden oak death rebounds in Sonoma County, spreads in California
(Press Democrat) Guy Kovner, Nov. 8
… Matteo Garbelotto, director of the forest pathology and mycology laboratory at UC Berkeley, said discovery of the two infected tanoaks in Del Norte County was a signature finding of this year's sudden oak death survey, known as the SOD Blitz, organized by his lab since 2008.
“It's a good thing that we detected it because the sooner we know, the more options available to minimize the impact of the disease,” he said.
The 2050 challenge
(Iowa Farm Bureau) Teresa Bjork, Nov. 8
…Dr. Frank Mitloehner, an air quality extension specialist at the University of California-Davis, said American consumers don't realize that modern agriculture practices have helped increase our food supply while decreasing potential greenhouse gas emissions.
“It's time for us to explain what we do in agriculture in a way that the public understands,” Mitloehner said.
Sudden oak death spreading fast, California's coastal forests facing devastation
(San Francisco Chronicle) Peter Fimrite, Nov. 7
…The rate of trees infected almost doubled in 2019 — from 3.5% to 5.9% — and was 10 times higher in some places compared with the 2018 survey, said Matteo Garbelotto, the director of the UC Berkeley Forest Pathology and Mycology Laboratory, which tested leaf samples taken by 422 volunteers.
...“There was a significant increase in infection rates over last year, but that's not totally surprising because we had a lot more rainfall,” Garbelotto said. “But it was a surprise to see them all at once. It's telling us we are entering a different phase of the disease, where the organism isn't really establishing itself in new areas, but is showing itself more when weather conditions are favorable.”
We mapped every wine country fire. They're larger and more destructive than ever
(Los Angeles Times) Priya Krishnakumar, Nov. 7
…Why is this happening? Scientists point to rising temperatures and the effects of Santa Ana and Diablo winds on increasingly dry terrain.
“In a way, climate change is priming the landscape to ignitions,” said Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist at UC Santa Barbara.
…Experts say many of the losses are due to increased development, as more and more homes have been built in areas prone to fire.
“The homes are the fuels,” Moritz said. “We see these burned neighborhoods where there are still shrubs and trees, and it's clear the homes propogated the fire.”
Water users making case in bankruptcy court; Cal Fire says dry canal poses fire hazards
(Chico News & Review) Ashiah Scharaga, Nov. 7
…Gosselin said the county is scheduling another meeting with water users for January. While “we cannot get in the middle and restore water to the Middle Miocene,” he said, it is exploring a project with Del Oro to extend water service on Pentz Road, which would help some of the folks who have been served by the canal. The UC Cooperative Extension is also close to completing an economic study related to the loss of the Miocene on water users, and Gosselin intends to seek grants and other funding for water supply reliability projects.
Farm City Newsday Thursday, 11-07-19
(AgNet West) Danielle Leal
Get the latest agriculture news in today's Farm City Newsday, hosted by Danielle Leal. Today's show is filled with stories covering the current disconnect in state and federal hemp regulations, California's working landscape sector providing significant economic value and details on the Almond Board of California's conference silent auction that benefits FFA students and how you can help. Tune in to the show for these news stories, recipes, features and more.
California working landscapes generate $333 billion in sales and 1.5 million jobs
(News release) Pam Kan-Rice
Power shutoffs leave some farmers feeling ‘helpless'
(Ag Alert) Ching Lee, Nov. 6
… "If they've lost cooler capacity or the ability to wash product, not only are they taking a hit on the expense side, but they have less to sell," Placer County sheep rancher Dan Macon said. "That's kind of a double whammy for a number of folks."
… Wineries also are running into this problem, said Anita Oberholster, an enology specialist for University of California Cooperative Extension. Those operating on generators are running low on fuel and can't get it to their wineries, which need power not only to process fruit but to control temperature during the fermentation process. Because yeast can generate a significant amount of heat during fermentation, an inability to control temperature could affect the quality of the wine, she said.
… "People are making the investments they need to make, but it's stuff that's outside the normal course of business, and I think there'll be some financial impacts from that in terms of this season's profitability," he said.
As a UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor, Macon said the outage has prompted him to start sending a survey to farmers in an effort "to catalog resources that are out there and available for sharing in situations like this," whether it's generators, water-hauling capacity or, in the case of fire, the ability to load livestock quickly and safely.
Spring rains likely caused waterlogging of walnut trees
(Farm Press) Logan Hawkes, Nov. 6
…Luke Milliron, UCCE Farm Advisor in Butte, Glenn, and Tehama Counties and Janine Hasey, UCCE Farm Advisor Emeritus, also addressed the topic in a recent blog post.
“Plant roots need to breathe,” they wrote. “This process of respiration is critical to energy production in roots. Saturated surface soil moisture levels restrict root access to atmospheric oxygen, limiting the energy production of respiration and eventually resulting in root asphyxiation (death).”
California agriculture in 2050 – where we are headed and why
(CDFA blog) Nov. 5
At its monthly meeting today, the California State Board of Food and Agriculture heard a cautiously optimistic appraisal of agriculture's future through 2050 from economist Dr. Daniel Sumner, director of the Agricultural Issues Center at UC Davis. Dr. Sumner believes that net farm income will continue to grow, even though it may experience ups and downs, and that growth specifics will hinge on the management of five key cost factors:
Beckstoffer Vineyards, in Partnership with University of California, Davis and Duarte Nursery, Launches Groundbreaking Clonal and Rootstock Trial Addressing Climate Change and Improved Grape Quality in Cabernet Sauvignon
(Wine Industry Advisor) Nov. 5
Andy Beckstoffer, perhaps the most recognized California grower of wine grapes, announced that Beckstoffer Vineyards, in partnership with University of California, Davis and Duarte Nursery, has launched a groundbreaking trial addressing climate change and improved grape quality for Cabernet Sauvignon at Beckstoffer's Amber Knolls Vineyard in the Red Hills of Lake County. University of California, Davis called the trial “the mother of Cabernet research trials.”
Study: California's working landscape supports more than 1.5 million jobs
(Fruit Grower News) Nov. 5
California's working landscape and the industries associated with agriculture and natural resources contribute significantly to the state's economy, according to a new study by the California Community Colleges Centers of Excellence for Labor Market Research, California Economic Summit and the University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
UC scientists seek innovative uses of ag waste
(Farm Press) Chris Brunner, Nov. 5
…Historically these waste materials have been used as a rich source of compost. However, scientists at UC Cooperative Extension are researching innovative uses for this material.
Dr. Pramod Pandey, a faculty member and Cooperative Extension specialist at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, focuses on better ways to manage waste material for both large and small farms. Dr. Pandey researches how to convert the organic matter in manure and other waste materials into a renewable energy source that can be used to power our state.
Shifting Winds in Fire Management
(Noozhawk) Harrison Tasoff, Nov. 4
…“We are mixing up the problem of forest and fuel management with the problem of wildland-urban interface fires,” said Max Moritz, an adjunct professor at UC Santa Barbara's Bren School of Environmental Management and a statewide Cooperative Extension wildfire specialist.
Early UC hemp research already yielding results
(Farm Press) Jeannette Warnert, Nov. 4
For the first time ever, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) researchers harvested an industrial hemp crop at one of its nine research and extension centers this fall.
“It's an interesting crop,” said UC Cooperative Extension specialist Bob Hutmacher. “There is a tremendous amount of research that can be done to understand its growth and best cultural practices, optimal planting dates either by seed or transplants, irrigation and fertilization management, and, particularly, to address pest and disease management.”
Day of the Dead – More Than a Colorful Sugar Skull, UC ANR Says
(Sierra Sun Times) Ricardo A. Vela, Nov. 2
- Many of us in the US have seen or heard something about the Mexican celebration El Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), whether it's a reference in a horror movie or a community fair where children get their faces painted as colorful skulls. For many, that is the extent of their knowledge of this millenary, radiant and vibrant Mexican celebration.
Early UC Hemp Research Already Yielding Results
(CalAg Today), Nov. 2
For the first time ever, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) researchers harvested an industrial hemp crop at one of its nine research and extension centers this fall.
"It's an interesting crop," said UC Cooperative Extension specialist Bob Hutmacher. "We don't have a lot of experience in UC ANR with hemp at this time. There is a tremendous amount of research that can be done to understand its growth and best cultural practices, optimal planting dates either by seed or transplants, irrigation and fertilization management, and, particularly, to address pest and disease management."
In Woodlake, One Motivated Couple And A Mile-Long Garden Inspire Children And Flowers To Flourish
(KVPR) Alice Daniel, Nov. 1
…And that's the point, right there. It's why two life-long Woodlake residents, Olga and Manuel Jimenez started the garden 16 years. Ago. It's named for the lake next to it. Taking care of the garden builds character, Manuel says. And strong work skills, and relationships.
… It sits between a lake and a road on land the city bought with a rails to trails grant, so it's far longer than it is wide. Manuel's retired now but he designed it when he was still a UC small farm advisor.
California Fire Danger Continues to Worsen, Experts Say
(Wall St J) Jim Carlton, Nov. 1
…“There's no simple problem and no one simple answer,” said Max Moritz, statewide fire specialist based at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
On the Hunt: Study Seeks Answers on Wildlife Exposure to Lethal Rat Poison
(CSU Fullerton) Nov. 1
…Under the mentorship of Paul Stapp, professor of biological science, and in collaboration with scientist Niamh Quinn, a human-wildlife interactions advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension in Irvine, Burke is studying how native wildlife is exposed to rodenticides. Burke has been working on the research over the past two years for his thesis project.
…For his project, Burke set up bait stations — tamper-proof black boxes — at 90 sites in Orange County — in the backyards of homeowners who participate in the Master Gardeners of Orange County program, and grow large amounts of fruits and vegetables, which attract animals, including rats.
As fires rage, pressure mounts to train California's next generation of forest stewards
(Edsource) Sydney Johnson, Nov. 1
… Blake Schmidt, a math teacher at Ross Middle School in Marin County, decided to take his students to Forestry Challenge after participating in a free [UC ANR] statewide program for California teachers called the Forestry Institute for Teachers.
Major fires are sometimes caused by utilities, but there are many other potential causes, including lightning, arson and sparks from dragging chains. All of these factors, are compounded by "lack of fuel management, poor land-use planning, and homes that aren't ready for fire and aren't resilient to fire," Quinn-Davidson said.
Power outages can complicate response and evacuation efforts should a fire break out, Quinn-Davidson said. Phone lines have been jammed during this week's outages and people have had trouble communicating with loved ones.
“If a fire starts because of other causes — which could easily happen under severe conditions — now we have no way to communicate,” she told the TIME reporter. “Seriously, like, if this power outage happened when the Carr Fire (sparked by a vehicle) 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 TIME article also quoted Jeffrey Stackhouse, UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor in Humboldt and Del Norte counties, about the sweeping power outages.
“People are freaking out around here,” he said.
Nevertheless, Stackhouse and Quinn-Davidson agree that scheduled power outages shouldn't be eliminated as a tool for preventing fires. They believe outages should be used sparingly, and in conjunction with preventative measures, such as fire-proofing homes and managing land.
“The disruption is pretty huge for something we're not sure is going to prevent a major wildfire. The actual likelihood of that event was not equal to the impact that this is having,” Quinn-Davidson said.
Read about Quinn-Davidson and Stackhouse's efforts to improve fire resilience in Humboldt County by establishing a prescribed burn association.