By Lisa Micheli, PhD, President & CEO
On October 3, 2015, Pepperwood launched its Fire Mitigation and Forest Health Initiative at its anniversary celebration and first ever fundraiser thanks to an outpouring of support by the community.
The objective of this initiative is to integrate multiple threads of Pepperwood’s applied science and management activities into one unified approach to forest health. Our goal is to demonstrate best practices on the preserve and to leverage Pepperwood’s role in research, outreach, collaborations, and technical advising to expand these throughout our region.
Here are just a few of the exciting developments kicked off since our launch.
• Pepperwood’s Mayacamas Forum to host spring convening on fire mitigation and forest health in partnership with Bureau of Land Management (BLM). We are in the planning stages of a workshop with BLM to bring together our researchers and experts to share and advance the multiple threads of this initiative.
• Pepperwood engaged in White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s Climate Resilience Project and presenting at their hosted session at the American Geophysical Union (AGU)’s Fall Meeting. Pepperwood’s Dr. Lisa Micheli has been invited to present on December 14th in the White House’s session on Linking Climate Resources for Community Resilience where she will present her Climate Ready work on links between drought and fire.
• Pepperwood raises awareness of connections between fire and drought via Climate Ready North Bay. In its role as the science lead on the California Coastal Conservancy-funded Climate Ready North Bay vulnerability assessment for Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Napa counties, Pepperwood is applying a statewide model that estimates the increase in fire risk associated with climate change for the benefit of our regional county water, parks, and open space districts long-term planning.
• Pepperwood selected to advise the North Coast Resource Partnership (NCRP) on climate, hydrology, fire and forest health. The NCRP, which serves coastal counties from Sonoma to the Oregon border, has chosen Pepperwood and it’s USGS Terrestrial Biodiversity Climate Change Collaborative (TBC3) partners to extend our Climate Ready North Bay approach throughout their region, thanks to funding from the Regional Growth Council, to support long-term sustainability planning.
• Pepperwood completes this year’s installment of fuels reduction on the preserve. A significant portion of Pepperwood’s annual stewardship budget is focused on removing thickets of young trees that in previous times would have been cleared via native peoples’ prescribed burns or natural wildfires. These young fir saplings create a dangerous level of fuel loading. This fall Pepperwood cleared over 12 more acres of accumulated fuels in concert with our partners at Great Tree Tenders and our dedicated volunteers.
• Pepperwood has partnered with CalFire to develop a five year plan for comprehensive fuel reductions. We will work directly with CalFire experts to develop a diverse array of prescriptions aimed at reducing accumulated fuels in the forest understory across the entire preserve. By making this a joint project with California’s lead fire management agency, this planning process will entail securing the permits and clearances needed to move forward with a more comprehensive, long-term approach.
• Native American advisor joins Pepperwood’s adaptive forest management team. Thanks to the generosity of the Christensen Fund, Pepperwood has been able to officially add our Native American cultural advisor, Clint McKay, to our adaptive management team. We have already gained a valuable long-term perspective on our landscape thanks to Clint’s generosity, and we’re only at the beginning of this process.
• Pepperwood awarded California Forest Improvement Program grant to develop adaptive forest management plan. Pepperwood was successful in securing a grant to hire a professional forester to advise us on all aspects of long-term management of our forest resources. We are working with Fred Euphrat, Registered Forester, who also serves as the Professor of Forestry for Santa Rosa Junior College.
• Santa Rosa Junior College students are learning forestry at Pepperwood. Our partnership with SRJC’s Forestry Professor has also created a wonderful opportunity for SRJC students to gain valuable career experienced by assisting in Pepperwood’s forest inventory, and in the process, further strengthen Pepperwood’s long-term partnership with SRJC. We hope this can become an annual learning opportunity for our local natural resource management students.
• Pepperwood advancing forest and fire research with UC Berkeley. In addition to our now multi-year forest ecology monitoring partnership with UC Berkeley’s Ackerly lab (Department of Integrative Biology), Pepperwood has a new partnership with Professor Scott Stephens’ Wildland Fire Science lab (Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management). We are exploring an experimental design and monitoring plan for small prescribed fire test plots at Pepperwood perhaps as soon as next summer or fall.
With your help, we have already made great strides in launching our Fire Mitigation and Forest Health Initiative. Thank you so much for your support!
Stay tuned to our monthly e-newsletter and Pepperwood’s Field Notes blog for future updates.