Posts Tagged: Yana Valachovic
The California Natural Resources Agency released California's Fourth Climate Change Assessment today (Monday, Aug. 27), at http://www.ClimateAssessment.ca.gov. UC Agriculture and Natural Resources scientists contributed substantially to the report.
The Fourth Assessment is broken down into nine technical reports on the following topics:
- Biodiversity and habitat
- Forests and wildlife
- Ocean and coast
- Projects, datasets and tools
- Public health
The technical reports were distilled into nine regional reports and three community reports that support climate action by providing an overview of climate-related risks and adaptation strategies tailored to specific regions and themes.
The regional reports cover:
- North Coast Region
- Sacramento Valley Region
- San Francisco Bay Area Region
- Sierra Nevada Region
- San Joaquin Valley Region
- Central Coast Region
- Los Angeles Region
- Inland South Region
- San Diego Region
The community reports focus on:
- The ocean and coast
- Tribal communities
- Climate justice
All research contributing to the Fourth Assessment was peer-reviewed.
UC Cooperative Extension ecosystem sciences specialist Ted Grantham – who works in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley – is the lead author of the 80-page North Coast Region Report. Among the public events surrounding the release of the Fourth Assessment is the California Adaptation Forum, Aug. 27-29 in Sacramento. For more information, see http://www.californiaadaptationforum.org/. Grantham is a speaker at the forum.
Other UC ANR authors of the North Coast Region Report are:
- Lenya Quinn-Davidson, UC Cooperative Extension area fire advisor for Humboldt, Siskiyou, Trinity and Mendocino counties
- Glenn McGourty, UC Cooperative Extension viticulture and plant science advisor in Mendocino and Lake counties
- Jeff Stackhouse, UC Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor for Humboldt and Del Norte counties
- Yana Valachovic, UC Cooperative Extension forest advisor for Humboldt and Del Norte counties
UC Cooperative Extension fire specialist Max Moritz contributed to sections of the main report on Forest Health and Wildfire and to the San Francisco Bay Area Report.
UC ANR lead authors of technical reports were:
- Economic and Environmental Implications of California Crop and Livestock Adaptations to Climate Change, Daniel Sumner, director of UC ANR's Agricultural Issues Center
- Climate-wise Landscape Connectivity: Why, How and What Next, Adina Merenlander, UC Cooperative Extension specialist
- Visualizing Climate-Related Risks to the Natural Gas System Using Cal-Adapt, Maggi Kelly, UC Cooperative Extension specialist
Preventing embers from getting inside may save homes
Photos and video of the Northern California communities that have been hit by wildfires this week show buildings reduced to ash. How could so many homes and businesses burn so quickly in Wine Country fires? Many houses that burned to the ground in the Northern California fires likely burned from the inside out, says Yana Valachovic, UC Cooperative Extension forest advisor for Humboldt and Del Norte counties.
Red hot embers carried on the wind can enter the attic via the venting. “In the case of the wind-driven fires on October 8, these fires created ember storms that blasted little coals into everything in their pathway,” Valachovic said. These embers also create small spot fires near the home that fuel new sources of embers.
Weather played a large role in these fires and generated a fire storm of embers that ignited grass, shrubs, trees and anything in its path. “While the landscape can be the fuse, the homes really can be the most burnable part of the landscape,” Valachovic said. “These embers likely lodged in the small spaces and openings of homes and buildings. A common location is for the embers to enter via attic venting or HVAC systems distributing little fires into the buildings.
“Embers also landed on receptive leaves, outside furniture, and other flammable materials outside the buildings that created fires adjacent to the buildings. Once enough buildings were engulfed in fire, the radiant heat of each building fire led to exposures on the neighboring buildings, creating a house-to-house burn environment.”
Residents can reduce the risk of embers setting their house on fire by removing dry plants around the structure.
“These fires remind us that everyone in California could help the fire situation by managing the vegetation, leaves in the gutters and decks, newspaper piles, brooms and other flammable sources near to their houses now before they get the evacuation call,” Valachovic said. “If you are likely to have to evacuate soon, temporarily covering or sealing up the vents with metal tape or plywood can help harden your home to an ember storm.”
Steve Quarles, UC Cooperative Extension advisor emeritus, who spent his career studying fire behavior on building materials and around homes, created an online Homeowner's Wildfire Mitigation Guide at http://ucanr.edu/sites/Wildfire. Quarles, who now does research for the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, demonstrates how embers can ignite and quickly engulf a house in flames in a video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvbNOPSYyss. After the 3-minute mark, video shows embers drifting up and flying through a screened vent into the house, where they could ignite combustible materials in the attic resulting in fire starting on the inside of the home.
“If you have time to prepare your home, use the wildfire last-minute check list at http://disastersafety.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/IBHS-Wildfire-Last-Minute-Checklist.pdf,” Valachovic said.
Valachovic has co-authored publications in home survival in wildfire prone areas http://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/pdf/8393.pdf and how landscape plants near homes can create more vulnerability to wildfire http://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/pdf/8228.pdf.
Once these fires are extinguished, a more detailed analysis will be possible.
“Past wildfire events have shown that this is the common way homes in the wildland urban interface (WUI) burn, and this scenario was likely translated to the urban environment,” she said.
Foresters, landowners, managers, community and conservation groups, land trustees, scientists and policymakers will meet Sept. 13 to 15 in Eureka for the 2016 Coast Redwood Science Symposium.
The symposium, which first convened in Humboldt County in 1996, will feature 70 speakers, 25 poster presentations and three field trips to explore the redwood forests of the North Coast.
“The general public may be interested in attending this conference because it provides a look at the current state of redwood forest management,” said Yana Valachovic, University of California Cooperative Extension forest advisor for Humboldt and Del Norte counties. “This symposium will allow attendees to learn more about how forests are managed today and see the tremendous changes in both private and public land management.”
From Brookings, Ore., to Big Sur, redwoods grow in a variety of habitats and conditions. On the field trips, participants will get to see both conservation and industrial aspects of old growth and timber forests.
A lot can be learned from both private and public land-management strategies and it is critical that the policies and strategies guiding use and management within the redwood region be reviewed and updated based on objective, scientific information, said Valachovic.
“We will discuss changes in milling, manufacturing and energy-producing facilities within the redwood range,” said Valachovic. “Over the last 20 years, there has been a great reduction in these facilities and this comes with a cost because the same infrastructure that supports lumber manufacturing also supports restoration activities.”
In the wake of several catastrophic wildfires this summer, it has been widely publicized that drought, disease and insects have killed more than 66 million trees in California. One place to dispose of dead trees is biomass power plants, which burn low-value forest materials to generate energy for homes and businesses. At the symposium, participants will discuss the impact of recent closures of bioenergy or biomass power plants.
On Wednesday, Sept. 14, three full-day tours are offered:
- North Tour. Redwood National and State Parks and Green Diamond Resource Company will highlight redwood thinning practices. The tour will travel north to the Orick area of Redwood National and State Parks to look at restoration forestry practices designed to enhance structural diversity of younger even-aged forests. The afternoon will be spent walking in the Korbel area, viewing Green Diamond's commercial thinning of third-growth forests and wildlife management strategies in managed landscapes.
- Humboldt Bay Tour. The City of Arcata, the County of Humboldt, and several private landowners will show participants modern conservation and community forestry efforts. The tour will visit the City of Arcata Community Forest — the oldest community forest in California — where there is active forest management and community members use an extensive trail system through managed stands on a daily basis. The tour will also visit the newly established McKay Community Forest near Eureka and several private properties that practice innovative land management. This tour will showcase uneven-aged redwood silviculture, funding for conservation activities and techniques to maintain social license within a community, and discuss the benefits and liabilities of managing bigger and older trees.
- South Tour. The tour with Humboldt Redwood Company looks into conservation planning on industrial timberland. In the historic lumber town of Scotia, participants will tour a mill and visit Humboldt Redwood Company's 40,000 gallon freshwater aquarium. In the afternoon, the tour will hear about active forest management and habitat conservation strategies for the protection of endangered species such as the marbled murrelet, northern spotted owl, and coho, chinook and steelhead salmon.
“This symposium will build on the scientific underpinnings from the first redwood symposium held in Arcata in 1996 and the subsequent 2004 symposium in Rohnert Park, and the 2011 symposium in Santa Cruz,” said Valachovic. “Bringing the symposium back to Humboldt is a great homecoming. Much has changed over the last 20 years.”
The 2016 Coast Redwood Science Symposium, sponsored by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, will be held at the Red Lion Inn in Eureka. For more information or to register, visit http://ucanr.edu/sites/Redwood2016.
Few people think about creating the non-combustible zone, said UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisor Yana Valachovic, because they are so accustomed to foundation plantings. “Plants are used to anchor the house visually on the landscape. Without them, a house can look naked,” Valachovic said.
But the non-combustible space adjoining the house may be the difference between losing it and all the contents to a wildfire versus returning to the property with the home unscathed. This extra precaution can be important, Valachovic explains, because, “embers from a distant wildfire can land on or adjacent to your house and ignite combustible items.”
In the five-foot non-combustible zone, even such common items as firewood, deck furniture, a wooden ladder, brooms and other wooden tools should be absent during the fire season.
Rock mulch, decorative stone “hardscape,” and concrete paths can be aesthetically pleasing alternatives.
“We have to simplify our landscapes and accept less vegetation to improve fire safety,” Valachovic said.
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources is involved in fire research and education statewide, helping enhance understanding of fire's role in human communities and natural areas. A range of UC ANR publications and online tools address wildfire risk, fuels impacts of forest diseases and home wildfire mitigation. UC ANR is part of the California Fire Science Consortium, a network of fire science researchers, managers, and outreach specialists tasked with improving the availability and understanding of fire science and management knowledge.
Valachovic, the UC ANR forestry advisor in Humboldt and Del Norte counties, recently hosted a webinar (recording available online) for homeowners in areas at wildfire risk, during which she said a five-foot non-combustible zone around the home increases the likelihood of home fire survival and provides several additional benefits to rural homeowners.
“If you have five feet of non-combustible area immediately next to the house, you don't have to cut back plants for siding maintenance and there's ample space for placement of a ladder to clean the gutters,” she said. “The open space also provides access for cleaning up any accumulation of pine needles and leaf litter, also a significant fire risk.”
Ten years ago, California extended the defensible space rule from 30 feet to 100. The area within 30 feet of the home should be maintained in a way authorities call “lean, green and clean.” Dry grass, leaves, brush and dead wood should be cleared. Open areas should be left between islands of vegetation in the 30-foot-zone to disrupt the path of a fire to the home. Trees within six feet of the house should be cut back or removed entirely.
Beyond 30 feet, in the extended 100-foot reduced fuel zone, fire officials ask that landowners remove dead wood, debris and low tree branches. Small trees and plants growing under trees should be removed, as they act as ladders giving ground fires access to tree crowns.
Valachovic said “fire resistant” plants can be characterized as having low growth, open structures, not holding on to dead leaves and having leaves with high moisture content. But she said no vegetation is truly fire safe.
“Landscape maintenance is essential,” Valachovic said. “All plants can burn under the right conditions.”
An initiative to maintain and enhance healthy families and communities is part of the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Strategic Vision 2025.
The Joint Fire Science Program – a multi-agency program that funds wildland fire research – has recognized this issue, and fire science delivery has become one of its core objectives. Using Joint Fire Science funding, the newly formed California Fire Science Consortium (CFSC) is now a statewide educational organization with five regional teams.
UCCE staff members in Humboldt County are leading the northern California region of CFSC, along with partners from the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station and Humboldt State University. They have formed a multi-agency advisory committee, which includes 11 scientists and managers from different agencies and organizations in the region, to offer guidance and support for consortium activities. The Northern California team is also working closely with faculty and staff at UC Berkeley, who act as a central hub for the statewide effort.
As fire managers develop new management plans, navigate permitting and other regulatory hurdles, and attempt to adapt to changing social, political, and environmental climates, they need access to current, science-based information that is digestible and readily applicable to their unique landscapes and management challenges.
In leading the Northern California CFSC effort, UCCE has helped to harness the vast array of scientific data on fire that is applicable for the Northern California region and make it available and understandable for the non-scientific community, contributing to the integrity and efficiency of fire management, both in the region and throughout the country.
“Responses from all of our educational events suggests that we are filling a void and helping regional fire managers and landowners become aware of the latest science,” said Yana Valachovic, forest advisor and county director for UC Cooperative Extension in Humboldt and Del Norte counties.