The Northern California Prescribed Fire Council (NCPFC) is a collaborative group of scientists, land managers, tribes, NGOs, and other organizations and individuals interested in issues surrounding the use of prescribed fire. The goal of this diverse coalition of scientists and managers is to “increase understanding and acceptability of prescribed fire in the public realm, while working together…to improve techniques, increase training opportunities, and ameliorate permitting and other regulatory hurdles” (from NCPFC website).
The council holds two meetings each year in different locations across the north state; the meetings include research and management presentations, as well as field tours of different prescribed fire projects. The upcoming meeting will include presentations by a range of scientists and managers, including Ken Pimlott (CAL FIRE Director), Sarah McCaffrey (USFS Northern Research Station), Dennis Martinez (Indigenous Peoples’ Restoration Network), and others. The second day will include a field tour of the 4,600 acre property and research site.
Prescribed fire councils have formed across the country in the last couple of decades, and when the NCPFC formed in 2009, it joined more than 25 other state and regional councils (see map below). The first prescribed fire council was established in Florida in the 1980s, and more councils are forming every year. Though councils were once unheard of in the western US, they are now becoming more common, and recent years have seen the development of a Washington statewide council (2011) and, just last year, a new council in the southern Sierra Nevada region of California.
Participation in NCPFC meetings continues to grow, and over 100 people attended each of the two meetings in 2012. If you have an interest in fire ecology and management, or if you’d like to incorporate fire into your forest or range management practices, attending this or a future meeting could be well worth your time to 1) network with other folks that share your interests, and 2) learn new techniques and approaches for managing fire and fuels in California.
As a recent participant commented, “the council does an excellent job at bringing together different stakeholders from the fire community in productive interchange. The more collaboration between agencies, researchers, regulators, and the public the better! And on top of that, these meetings are lively and fun - the value of building camaraderie in the fire community should not be underestimated.”
For more information, visit these websites:
- Northern California Prescribed Fire Council: www.norcalrxfirecouncil.org
- Coalition of Prescribed Fire Councils: www.prescribedfire.net
- UC Hopland Research and Extension Center: http://ucanr.edu/sites/Rod_Shippey_Facility/ or http://ucanr.edu/sites/hopland/
As part of the celebration of the Beijing Forestry Univesity’s 60th year anniversary, we presented a paper, entitled, “Valuing Forestland Environmental Services: A Case Study for California’s Oak Woodlands” at their symposium on Forest Economics. The abstract of the paper is shown below.
California’s oak woodlands cover 10 percent of the state, and provide important environmental services. This paper presents analytical approaches for assessing the market value of these services, providing a framework for other Pacific Rim forest areas. Positive programming is used to assess a forest landowner’s amenity values. Contingent valuation is used to assess the value of different stand structures. Hedonic regression is used to decompose land and housing prices of an urban area near a dedicated oak woodland open space to assess the value of the open space on an overall community. The policy issues and conservation strategies associated with these environmental service values are discussed.
The full paper can be downloaded at this link. This would be of value to policy makers and land managers with an interest in oak woodland conservation.
Standiford, R.B. and L. Huntsinger. 2012. Valuing Forestland Environmental Services: A Case Study for California’s Oak Woodlands. Proceedings of the International Symposium of Forest Economics 2012 (ISFE2012), Beijing, China, October 13-14, 2012. Pp. 273-281.
Firewood movement is one way in which invasive plant pests and diseases can be transferred from one location to another, often resulting in devastation to natural resources. In an attempt to more effectively plan for and mitigate against potential threats to California’s urban and wildland forests, this document analyzes what is currently known about firewood movement into and within the State.
Roughly 99.8% of California’s land area is located within 50 miles of a State Park, National Park, or National Forest. Therefore, any introduced pest is a potential threat to the State’s outdoor recreation and natural conservation areas, as well as forest resources.
California has 16 border stations along major highways that monitor vehicles coming into the State for unwanted pests associated with commodity products. In addition, there are 20 Homeland Security Custom Border Protection stations at international land, air, and seaports of entry, of which six service ports statewide handle commercial shipments and 14 handle individuals and their personal property.
Firewood Movement into California
With California being the 11th largest economy in the world (reference http://www.ccsce.com/PDF/Numbers-Jan-2012-CA-Economy-Rankings-2010.pdf), trade and travel continue to bring vast amounts of firewood into the State annually. In 2009, California received direct international shipments of firewood from Estonia, Honduras, Japan, Latvia, and Sweden. In 2010, more than 27.5 million private vehicles and 7 million commercial vehicles were inspected at California’s border protection stations (reference: http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/phpps/pe/ExteriorExclusion/borders.html).
This year, the USDA Forest Service, Region 5 performed an analysis of 2011 firewood-related Pest Detection Reports (PDR) generated by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) regarding incoming firewood at the 16 State border stations to determine: 1) how much firewood is entering the state; 2) where the firewood is coming from and going to; 3) what forest pests have been intercepted on firewood entering the state, as well as the origin and destination of each load; and 4) what the potential threats are to California forests and parks from pests transported via firewood.
Firewood results for 2011
- Almost 23 million pounds (lbs) of firewood were recorded in 8,400 individual loads.
- Top entry points by weight were Hornbrook (8.8 million lbs), Redwood Highway (5.4 million lbs), Alturas (1.9 million lbs), and Yermo (1.7 million lbs).
- Nearly 63 percent of the firewood by weight was in commercial vehicles, but represented only 10 percent of the total number of individual loads.
- Firewood came to California from 46 other states, Canada, and Mexico. Top firewood origins by weight were Oregon (13 million lbs), California (2.9 million lbs), Canada (2.7 million lbs), and Utah (1.2 million lbs).
- Firewood was being taken to over 550 named destinations, the vast majority of which were in California (500 locations; 20 million lbs). Most of the rest was being taken to Reno, Nevada.
- Calculated as straight-line distances between border stations and named destinations, firewood in commercial vehicles was expected to travel twice as far on average then wood in private vehicles (193 miles versus 78).
- The average distance firewood was expected to travel varied widely between the border stations. Wood entering the state at Needles (268 miles), Hornbrook (192 miles), and Vidal (179 miles) traveled the furthest while wood entering at Winterhaven (8 miles) and Alturas (18 miles) tended to stay very local.
Potential Forest Pests Found in 2011
- Border stations intercepted 337 potential forest pests in firewood.
- Of the intercepted pests, 93 percent were beetles. No major United States invasive exotic pests were intercepted in 2011; however, in 2010, emerald ash borer was intercepted in firewood from Michigan.
- Potential forest pests came to California from 38 other states and Canada (Map 2). Top origins were Oregon (38 pests), Arizona (34 pests), Colorado (28 pests), and Texas (26 pests).
- Of the intercepted pests, 26 percent were in vehicles with California license plates, bringing wood back to California from at least 19 other states.
- Identified infested wood was being transported to 120 destinations, with major California cities and Yosemite National Park among the most common.
This initial analysis shows that movement of firewood across California’s borders may be an important pathway for invasive forest pests and diseases to enter the State, and highlights how border inspection stations are an important stopgap. However, firewood is still able to enter the state unchecked through entry points other than main border station locations and through state border stations during hours of non-operation. Additionally, the future of many border stations is uncertain given the current poor economic climate. Still needing examination for a full understanding of firewood movement into and within California are the international ports of entry.
Local Movement of Firewood in California
A USDA Forest Service, Region 5 analysis of Forest Service non-commercial firewood cutting permits issued for National Forests from 2000 to 2011 provide a cursory view of how locally cut wood for personal use is moved.
Map A and B show movement of permitted cut firewood off of three National Forests. The green lines track the origin of the cut wood back to the zip code logged for each permit given. Thicker lines indicate greater firewood movement to a given location. Both maps represent forests where invasive species have become established and are causing massive die-off of certain tree species. This may have implications for accidental movement of invasive species in San Diego County (goldspotted oak borer - Cleveland National Forest) and along the North Coast (sudden oak death - Mendocino and Six Rivers National Forests).
Regional Movement of Firewood in California
Yosemite National Park campground case study: In 2009, 10 campers in Yosemite were asked about their firewood habits when camping. Campers came from a variety of areas, including coastal California (70 percent), eastern California (10 percent), and out of state (10 percent).
Firewood: Ten percent of the campers brought wood from their own property, 10 percent purchased boxed wood within the park, and 20 percent brought in wood they had found at other camps. Forty percent planned to burn all of their wood onsite, 30 percent planned to take the remaining wood home, and 20 percent of campers planned to leave the unburned wood onsite.
Pests: Thirty percent of the campers were aware of State quarantines regarding firewood and pests; however, 10 percent brought banned host material anyway. While none of the campers had observed insect activity on their firewood, careful inspection by the ranger found that 40 percent of the wood inspected had visible insect galleries.
Statewide Movement of Firewood in California
An analysis of California’s commercial firewood importation, exportation, and movement within the State is underway. Larger commercial firewood dealers nationwide are moving toward a third-party certification program for firewood, with all wood kiln dried and meeting various standards of excellence that will be classified as gold, silver, and standard. More on the certification program and the American Firewood Producers and Distributors Association can be found at http://afpda.alreadysetup.com/.
Map 1. Locations of CDFA border stations and the highways where traffic is inspected.
Map2. Origin states of potential forest pests intercepted in firewood in 2011.
Map A. Cleveland National Forest: The goldspotted oak borer is killing oaks in this forest.
Map B. Mendocino and Six Rivers National Forests: Sudden oak death (Phytophthora ramorum) is killing oaks and tanoaks in these forests.
BERKELEY - Because the past rainfall year was relatively dry, the leaves of many oak trees in the Sierra Nevada and Coast Ranges have been turning brown, and some trees have even begun losing their leaves.. Several native California oaks, including California black oak (Quercus kelloggii) and blue oak (Q. douglasii) have exhibited these symptoms. Both of these deciduous species lose all of their foliage in the fall, but in late -summer they are normally green and leafy. A number of landowners have contacted their University of California Cooperative Extension county offices to find out what is causing the problem and whether their trees are in jeopardy.
While early leaf drop is unusual, it has happened many times before during dry years. In the severe drought of the mid-70s and again in the late 80s, some trees lost all of their foliage by mid-August. For this reason, several deciduous native California oaks – especially blue oak are labeled as “drought deciduous”. This simply means that they lose their leaves early in response to extremely dry soil conditions. This is apparently an adaptive mechanism to prevent lethal desiccation by eliminating transpirational moisture loss that can occur as long as the leaves are present on the trees.
The immediate effects of this leaf loss may be startling, but there should be little long-term impact on tree health, according to Doug McCreary, a Natural Resources Specialist Emeritus.
During the coming months, trees may continue to lose their leaves, McCreary says. There is also a strong possibility that many trees will grow new leaves before the fall, especially trees that lost their leaves relatively early in the season.
“Tree vigor also helps determine the amount of refoliation, since trees with more energy reserves are better able to refoliate than weakened trees,” McCreary said. “Trees with pre-existing stress, or infected trees that lose their foliage relatively late in the season, may not refoliate as fully. They may also experience some dieback in the crown.”
The leaf loss reduces the tree’s ability to manufacture food through photosynthesis and over time, repeated defoliations could weaken trees. But since these events are often widely spaced, long-term tree health is usually not seriously impacted. “Next year,” McCreary says, “it will probably be very difficult to tell which trees lost their leaves early, and which remained foliated late into the season.”
For more information about oaks and oak management and the names of experts working with oaks by region, visit the University of California’s oak conservation website at: http://ucanr.org/oaks. For information about sudden oak death, visit the Web site of the California Oak Mortality Task Force at: http://www.suddenoakdeath.org/.
Douglas McCreary, University of California natural resources specialist, (530) 639-8807, firstname.lastname@example.org
The 5th Sudden Oak Death Science Symposium, held in Petaluma, CA June 19 – 22, 2012, brought together researchers, regulators, land managers, and industry representatives from throughout the world working on Sudden Oak Death (SOD), Phytophthora ramorum (the pathogen known to cause SOD), and other related forest and nursery pests. The Symposium included 52 talks and 25 posters from top researchers around the globe as well as a “SOD: Biosecurity Concerns and Forest Restoration” field trip, where attendees heard about international plant hunters and biosecurity risks related to plant hunting and walked through a local preserve, learning about long-term system changes and restoration efforts following SOD outbreaks. There was also a community “Ask the Expert” evening session where the public was able to talk one on one with researchers and outreach specialists, and a special tanoak session was offered on Friday, focusing on the history, values, and ecology of tanoak.
Highlight findings from the meeting included the discovery of a 4th P. ramorum lineage, the announcement that pathogen sporulation has been found on non-symptomatic Japanese larch needles, and learning that 85 percent of the Marin Municipal Water District’s susceptible habitat is now infested.
If you missed the Symposium, be sure to visit the website (http://ucanr.org/sites/sod5/) where you can access the agenda, book of abstracts, and link to the archived live stream that was made available throughout the meeting for those unable to attend.