2018 State of Pepperwood Address
Recap & resources

On January 11, 2018, Pepperwood hosted our 4th annual State of Pepperwood Address, featuring an update on the latest Pepperwood happenings from President & CEO Dr. Lisa Micheli. On this webpage you'll find highlights from Lisa's talk, as well as resources related to Pepperwood post-fire recovery and response efforts. Thank you to our dedicated community for your unwavering support—you are the reason we find so much hope on the horizon!

View photos from our evening together in the slideshow below.

Thanks to David Loeb, founder and Senior Advisor of Bay Nature, for taking these photos!

Key points from Dr. Lisa Micheli's 2018 State of Pepperwood Address

    • We live in a fire-adapted ecosystem - Fire has always been a part of Mediterranean ecosystems like ours. Plants and animals have adapted to survive—and even thrive—with fire. In fact, many species of native plants only germinate after fire, and fire clears forest understory to make room for new growth and easier foraging for wildlife.
    • The human impacts of this event make it a tragedy - 40 lives and over 8,000 structures were lost in the North Bay fires. Though the landscape is adapted to fire, most human-built structures are not.
    • People are worried about our forests and wildlife, but they have seen fires before - Several of our motion-activated wildlife cameras survived the Tubbs Fire and documented wildlife returning to parts of Pepperwood just a day after it first hit. We have since recorded images of bear, mountain lion, deer, coyote, fox, jackrabbits, and many other species all within weeks of the fire. Scroll down for a slideshow!
    • Safeguarding our watersheds and water supply has been the primary environmental focus of response to date - The fires burned away a lot of hillside vegetation, making erosion a serious concern. There is a greater risk of sediment and hazardous materials entering our streams, especially during the rainy season.
    • Fire suppression over the last century increased available fuels in the forest - Combined with drought, this contributed to the rate at which the fire spread. There are many things land managers—including private home owners—can do to reduce fuel accumulation. The UC Agricultural and Natural Resources website has some good resources—click here to view them.
    • We have an unprecedented opportunity to see how effective fuel treatments were in mitigating fire severity - We've been very active in managing our 3,200 acre preserve, from grazing cattle in our grasslands and thinning Douglas-fir in our woodlands, to conducting prescribed burns. We are now studying how these practices influenced, and perhaps mitigated, the fire's impact.
    • Our open spaces provided the battle lines for Cal Fire’s containment efforts - The importance of protecting large open spaces to help our communities adapt to a more fire-prone future cannot be overstated. Wildlands provide key access points for firefighters to mobilize and stop advancing fires, and if properly managed to reduce fuel loads could slow wildfires or reduce their severity.
    • We can reduce future fire risks - There are many steps we can take as a community, and as individuals. These include reducing ignition hazards and supporting more resilient home construction using existing technologies. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is also critical to slowing climate change, which is could significantly increase the frequency and severity of wildfires. Fire Safe Sonoma has a great guide for homeowners—click here to read it.
    • Can we take these factors into account in time to make an impact on the rebuild? - In the wake of the fires, we have a limited window of opportunity to make our communities more resilient to future wildfires. Please help us spread the word by forwarding the resource we'll be sharing over the coming months with friends and family.

Watch video clips of Dr. Micheli's presentation

In the following video, Lisa explains how the Tubbs Fire swept through northeast Santa Rosa and explores some of the factors contributing to its intensity.

You can also watch the following presentation clips:


Pepperwood wildlife - before, during and after the fire

This is a sequence of images all taken by a single Pepperwood motion-activated camera. Note the time and date stamps in the lower right hand corner, and the temperature readings on the lower left as the fire moves through.

Pepperwood's Fire Response and Recovery

Find out how your support is bringing science to bear on both the immediate and long-term challenges facing our beloved landscapes. Use the viewer below to flip through, or click here to download a PDF.

Pepperwood Fire Response - 18-01-09


Your tax-deductible gift to Pepperwood will bring science to bear on the immediate and long-term challenges facing our beloved landscapes.

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Pepperwood post-fire drone flyover

The drone footage below shows the Pepperwood landscape on November 2, 2017, less than a month after the Tubbs Fire hit, which burned over 80% of our 3,200 acre preserve. Footage by Michael Koontz with support from the USDA Forest Service Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center.

Issues playing the video? Click here to watch it on Vimeo.