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Forest Research and Outreach Blog

Sanchez named UCCE woody biomass specialist

Daniel Sanchez
 

Daniel Sanchez joined UCCE on Sept. 1, 2018, as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in woody biomass utilization in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management at UC Berkeley. Sanchez is an engineer and energy systems analyst studying the commercialization and deployment of energy technologies that remove COfrom the atmosphere. Sanchez's work and engagement spans the academic, nongovernmental, and governmental sectors. As an assistant Cooperative Extension specialist, he runs the Carbon Removal Lab, which aims to commercialize sustainable negative emissions technologies, and supports outreach to policymakers and technologists in California and across the United States.

Sanchez earned a Ph.D. and a M.S. in energy and resources at UC Berkeley.  He completed a B.S.E in chemical and biomolecular engineering at University of Pennsylvania.

Prior to joining the faculty of UC Berkeley, Sanchez was a AAAS Congressional Science and Engineering Fellow serving in the Office of Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO). He has previously held positions with the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, Green for All, and the California Public Utilities Commission.

Sanchez is located in Mulford Hall and can be reached at (215) 593-4493 (cell) and sanchezd@berkeley.edu. Follow him on Twitter @Dan_L_Sanchez.

Posted on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 at 10:07 AM
  • Author: UCANR Report

Jones named UCCE forestry advisor

Reposted from the UCANR report

 

Michael Jones
 

Michael Jones joined UCCE on Oct. 1, 2018, as the area forestry advisor in Mendocino, Lake and Sonoma counties. He specializes in forest entomology with a focus on forest health and integrated pest management of invasive and endemic forest pests.

Jones completed a Ph.D. in entomology from State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry and a B.S. in environmental biology and management from UC Davis.

Prior to joining UCCE, Jones was a graduate student and research project assistant at State University of New York. He developed and maintained research projects on delimitation, management, and biological control of the invasive forest pest emerald ash borer in New York. From 2010 to 2013, Jones was a research associate in the UC Davis Department of Entomology, in collaboration with the US Forest Service, Forest Health Protection in Southern California. He participated in a variety of forest pest research projects involving the detection, evaluation and management of endemic and invasive forest pests. He has been active in leading training activities for land managers and land owners in the field identification and management of forest pests, and training and supervising field crews in the collection of field data. As an undergraduate at UC Davis, he worked on sudden oak death with David Rizzo's lab group in the Department of Plant Pathology.

Based in Ukiah, Jones can be reached at (707) 463-4495 and mjones@ucanr.edu.

Posted on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 at 10:04 AM
  • Author: UCANR Report

CDFA and UC ANR join forces to advance climate-smart agriculture in California

Reposted from UCANR News

California Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources vice president Glenda Humiston signed a memorandum of understanding in Sacramento Oct. 26 to initiate a new partnership to advance climate-smart agriculture in California.

This partnership will provide $1.1 million to hire 10 UC Cooperative Extension community education specialists who will be deployed to 10 counties statewide to assist and encourage farmers to participate in CDFA programs aimed at increasing adoption of smart farming and ranching practices.

UC ANR vice president Glenda Humiston (left), and California Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross sign a memorandum of understanding to initiate the new partnership to advance climate-smart agriculture.
 

“Agriculture is an important part of the climate solution,” Ross said. “This funding enables CDFA and UC ANR to partner with farmers to scale-up climate smart agricultural practices.”

The new program is funded by California Climate Investments dollars through the Strategic Growth Council (SGC),

“Farmers and ranchers are key to carbon sequestration and a sustainable California,” said SGC chair Ken Alex.  “The Strategic Growth Council is pleased to fund this partnership for smart agricultural practices.”

The partnership is focused on implementing on-farm solutions to improve soil health, nutrient management, irrigation management, on-farm composting and manure management – smart farming practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

The CDFA programs involved are:
Memorandum of Understanding.
 

“This new joint effort reflects our commitment to extending research-supported solutions to our farming community so they have the information and tools they need to make climate-smart decisions,” Humiston said. “It also demonstrates our shared goal of promoting new practices that are grounded in science.”

 

The 10 new education specialists will serve in Mendocino, Glenn, Yolo, San Joaquin, Merced, Kern, Imperial, San Diego, San Luis Obispo and Santa Cruz counties.

Three UCCE advisors will mentor and assist the new educators: water quality and management advisor Laurent Ahiablame, based in San Diego County; area dairy advisor Betsy Karle, based in Glenn County; and irrigation and cotton advisor Dan Munk, based in Fresno County.

In addition to working with the new educators, the UCCE advisors conduct research on farming and ranching practices that boost efficiency and protect the climate, therefore serving as a conduit between discovery and implementation.

“This is a great opportunity to really support growers find the right balance between food production and effective management of natural resources,” Ahiablame said. “With the 10 community education specialists we will be one step closer to the producers across the state. I look forward to the opportunity to mentor these specialists, who in turn will be making direct impacts on the community.”

Karle said she was interested in participating in the program as a way to encourage dairy operators to try practices they are interested in but consider too costly.

“I've worked here locally with dairy producers who wanted to implement practices but need financial assistance in order to make it feasible,” Karle said. “They need assistance in the grant application process and technical support to make changes on their farms.”

Doug Parker, director of the UC California Institute for Water Resources, is the UC ANR point of contact and liaison with CDFA. To contact Parker, email doug.parker@ucop.edu.

The rapidity of water infiltration into the soil is a measure of soil health. Building soil health is one of the areas in which the UC ANR-CDFA partnership will help farmers implement climate-smart farming.
 
Posted on Friday, October 26, 2018 at 1:41 PM
  • Author: Jeannette Warnert

Does wildfire mitigation work?

Fifteen Hundred Structures Gone, but Not This One

by Yana Valachovic

Note: This story originally appeared on the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network blog. Subscribe to have more stories like this delivered to your inbox.

Randall Hauser knew that building in the Redding, California, area meant that his family's dream home, to be located in a blue oak and pine forest, would likely one day see a wildfire. Consequently, when they began construction in 1994, they kept fire in mind and paid close attention to the home's design and construction. Fast forward 24 years, to the Carr Fire. Over 1,500 structures were destroyed in that fire, 17 of which were Randall's neighbors' homes. But his remained standing, unharmed. What made the difference? Here are a few of my observations after visiting his home.

  • The house includes a well-maintained, simple, “Class A” metal roof (PDF, 1.15MB). The house did not have dormers (i.e., small rooms that project from the roof) or other, more complex roof designs. I've seen several homes, that despite having metal roofs, did burn. In many of those instances, accumulated leaf litter in the gutters gave fire an entry point into the home.
  • The Hausers incorporated and maintained a non-combustible zone (3–5 feet wide) around the outside of their home. There are cement and crushed-rock walkways adjacent to the house, and they regularly rake leaves and cut the dry grass. During the Carr Fire, this helped prevent an ember landing in vegetation adjacent to the house and bringing fire to the house.
  • The landscaping closest to their home is well maintained. Tree limbs are pruned, and vegetation is open structured and includes low-growing cactus and succulents.
  • They designed the house with boxed-in or soffited eaves with the venting located at the outside edge, making it more difficult for embers to enter the attic. Note: The latest research suggests that homeowners should replace ¼-inch attic and foundation vents with -inch mesh screen. Download the NFPA/IBHS fact sheet on vents (PDF, 1MB) to learn more.
  • Their siding is well-maintained stucco, rather than horizontal plank siding with lap joints. Similar to metal roofs not being a guarantee for wildfire resilience, resilient siding is not as simple as stucco versus wood; a resilient home depends on the design, installation and maintenance over time.
  • They provided water for firefighters, and their fire hoses are labeled with reflective signs. This made the water accessible to firefighters.

Review the University of California's Home Survival in Wildfire-Prone Areas: Building Materials and Design or the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety's wildfire research archives for more information. While replacing the roof may not be in next year's budget for you, upgrading the venting and maintaining the vegetation around the house could be a good goal for 2019.

Thank you, Randall, for showing us how to have a resilient, aesthetically pleasing and functional home in a fire-prone region.

Editor's Notes: Yana Valachovic is a county director and forest advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension. She recently delivered a version of this webinar presentation to Carr Fire survivors. Afterwards, and much to her surprise, a gentleman approached her said, “my house survived, and I implemented many of the elements you just talked to us about.” That gentleman was Randall Hauser. In September, Yana visited his home to record his successes. After touring the North Bay, Mendocino and Carr Fires, where many homes with metal roofs and stucco siding did not survive, it's clear to Yana and her colleagues that fire resilience is more than just defensible space or having a specific building product . Or as Yana puts it, “Fire resilience is about understanding and recognizing the vulnerabilities of your home and landscape, and making modifications so that the home and landscape are complementary to each otherYes, defensible space is important, but equally important is the condition of the house!” 

Posted on Friday, October 26, 2018 at 11:07 AM
  • Author: Yana Valachovic

Bring the wild back into our farmlands to protect biodiversity, researchers say

Reposted from the UCANR News

Berkeley — With a body the size of a fist and wings that span more than a foot, the big brown bat must gorge on 6,000 to 8,000 bugs a night to maintain its stature. This mighty appetite can be a boon to farmers battling crop-eating pests.

But few types of bats live on American farms. That's because the current practice of monoculture – dedicating large swathes of land to a single crop – doesn't give the bats many places to land or to nest. 

Diversifying working lands – including farmland, rangeland and forests – may be key to preserving biodiversity in the face of climate change, says a new review paper published this week in Science by conservation biologists at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Benzinger Family Winery is a diversified vineyard in Sonoma County. (Photo: Corey Luthringer)
 

Diversification could be as simple as adding trees or hedgerows along the edges of fields, giving animals like birds, bats and insects places to live, or as complex as incorporating a patchwork of fields, orchards, pasture and flowers into a single working farm.

These changes could extend the habitat of critters like bats, but also much larger creatures like bears, elk and other wildlife, outside the boundaries of parks and other protected areas, while creating more sustainable, and potentially more productive, working lands.

“Protected areas are extremely important, but we can't rely on those on their own to prevent the pending sixth mass extinction,” said study co-author Adina Merenlender, a UC Cooperative Extension Specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley. “This is even more true in the face of climate change, because species will need to move around to adapt to shifts in temperature and climate.”

Diversified farms could include crops, pastures, orchards and woodland. (Photo: Xerces)
 

A win-win for wildlife and for farms

Maintaining even small pieces of the original landscape – even a single tree– can help conserve the original diversity of species, Merenlender said. Clearing oak woodlands and shrublands to establish large vineyards hits many native species hard. Animals that are well adapted to urban and agricultural areas, such as mockingbirds, house finches and free-tail bats, continue to flourish, while animals that are more sensitive to disturbance, like acorn woodpeckers, orange-crowned warblers and big brown bats, begin to drop away. “If you can leave shrubs, trees and flowering plants, the habitat suitability -- not just for sensitive birds but also for other vertebrates – goes way up,” Merenlender said. This is true not only in California's vineyards, but on working lands around the world.

Incorporating natural vegetation makes the farm more hospitable to more creatures, while reducing the use of environmentally degrading chemicals like herbicides, pesticides and man-made fertilizer.

A vineyard in California's central coast is an example of industrialized agriculture. (Photo: Steve Zmak, https://stevezmak.com/)
 

The ideal farming landscape includes woodland pastures and vegetable plots bumping up against orchards and small fields, said Claire Kremen, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management. Integrating livestock produces manure which can fertilize the crops, while those same crops produce feed for livestock. Birds and bats provide pest control, and bees boost crop production by pollinating plants.

“It is possible for these working landscapes to support biodiversity but also be productive and profitable,” Kremen said. “And ultimately, this is where we have to go. We just can't keep mining our soils for their fertility and polluting our streams – in the end, this will diminish our capacity to continue producing the food that we need. Instead, we must pay attention to the species, from microbes to mammals, that supply us with critical services, like pollination, pest control and nutrient cycling”

“We have some amazing diversified farms, sustainably managed forests and species-rich rangelands here in California that exemplify working lands for conservation around the world,” Merenlender said. “We are calling for a scaling up of this approach around the world, and to do that we champion community-based action and more supportive polices” Kremen concludes.

Posted on Monday, October 22, 2018 at 8:46 AM
  • Author: Kara Manke

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