When plants have at least 20 years to recover after a fire, they can go on for hundreds of years as a healthy habitat without fire, reported the Orange County Register.
The newspaper included this information in a graphic accompanying an article about the five-year anniversary of the devastating Santiago Fire, which scorched more than 28,000 acres and destroyed 42 structures in Orange County.
Sources of information for the plant recovery graphic included the UC Integrated Pest Management Program. If a fire occurs before the 20-year benchmark passes, it interrupts native plant progression and allows non-natives to take hold.
UC Cooperative Extension specialist Max Moritz has noticed that reporters are displaying a keen interest in the role played by global warming in what has so far been an unusually fierce 2012 fire season.
"For me, that marks a significant shift," wrote Moritz in a op-ed published in Nature yesterday. "This fresh curiosity about the link between fire and climate change is an important opportunity, of sorts."
Moritz, a wildfire expert in the UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, is the author of a journal article published this summer in Ecosphere that linked climate change to global fire activity. The article is cited on a press release from U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee Democrats that calls for a hearing about reducing wildfire risk.
In the Moritz op-ed, he notes that a second common question from the press about the 2012 fire season is: “If these fires are related to climate change, what can we do about it?”
The inquiry, he said, reveals a growing anxiety over how humanity can adapt to the fire-related impacts of climate change, rather than how to mitigate climate change itself.
"To co-exist with fire will require extending our approach to living with environmental risks," Moritz wrote. "Mapping other natural hazards, such as flood and earthquake zones, has taught us to avoid building on the most dangerous parts of the landscape or to engineer solutions into the built environment when we do. Encouraging the 'right kind of fire' — with frequencies, sizes and intensities appropriate to the ecosystem in question — will be necessary, where possible, so that 'record-breaking' fires are less likely to occur during 'record-breaking' heat or drought."
Sabrina Drill, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Los Angeles County, natural resources, informed Topanga Canyon residents how to create defensible space around their homes by breaking up fuel ladders, identifying fire-resistant plants and spacing the plants appropriately, according to the Topanga Messenger.
Drill's presentation, which included information about maintaining the health of the wildland environment, was the third of four lectures sponsored by the Topanga Coalition for Emergency Preparedness.
Topanga Canyon is a tony Los Angeles County neighborhood nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains and bounded on three sides by state park or conservancy lands. In 1993, the Old Topanga Fire burned 16,516 acres and destroyed at least 388 structures, according to Wikipedia.
A paper that examined climate change's likely effects on global fire patterns predicts the West will see more wildfire, said an article by Bettina Boxall in the Los Angeles Times.
The lead author of the paper, published Tuesday in the journal Ecosphere, was Max Moritz, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley. Moritz, a wildfire expert, and his colleagues concluded that by the end of the century, much of the world will experience more wildfire than it does now.
Rising temperatures lengthen the fire season and dry out vegetation, making it more flammable. More rain could increase plant growth, producing more fuel to burn. In other areas, climate change may reduce fire. More rain in the tropics could decrease fire; less rain in other areas may reduce fuel levels and stunt plant growth, cutting the fire potential.
“Fire is not going anywhere,” Moritz said. The study results, he said, emphasize the need “to rethink how we live with fire and take it more seriously.”
“With 2012 shaping up to be a high risk year for wildfires, the more people can prepare to survive the threat the better we all will be,” said Susan Kocher, University of California Cooperative Extension advisor, natural resources.
Kocher speaks in session three of the seminar series on May 30 about defensible space landscaping. The session also includes a talk by Wendy West, UC Cooperative Extension program representative, natural resources, titled "Learning how to garden at Lake Tahoe."
See the UCCE Lake Tahoe Basin Wildfire Awareness Week website for more details and links to the webinars.
UC Cooperative Extension in Butte County offers local schools a "Nutrition Decathlon," a full-day nutrition and physical activity program, reported the Oroville Mercury-Register.
UCCE is beginning its Nutrition Decathlon season, hosting activities at schools that are making changes on their campuses, said Jona Pressman, UCCE program manager, nutrition.
"To participate, they need to be making significant changes with physical activity and nutrition," Pressman said.
At Helen Wilcox School last Friday, students ran, jumped, balanced on beams, tossed balls into nets, hopped in sacks, ducked through hoops, balanced bean bags on their heads, crawled through tubes, did pushups and lifted slight weights, reported Barbara Arrigoni, Mercury-Register staff writer.