At the July meeting Dr. Hugh Safford, Regional Ecologist for the USDA-Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region will be making a presentation titled Fear and loathing in the Sierra Nevada: confronting a wicked problem. Dr. Safford is not only a respected scientist, but as can be seen by the title of his presentation, he is also provocative, and as those who have heard him before can attest, a very entertaining speaker.
So-called “wicked” problems are difficult to solve because (1) knowledge is incomplete or contradictory, (2) there are many people and opinions involved, (3) conditions and requirements are changing, (4) there is potentially a large economic burden, and (5) there is much interconnection between these problems and other problems. The current forest management situation in the Sierra Nevada meets all of these requirements. The climate in the Sierra Nevada has been warming and is projected to warm much more before the end of the current century. Although long-term trends in mean annual precipitation are mostly steady or rising in the northern half of the State, summers are drier, and the snowpack is diminishing. At the same time, the recent millennial drought and subsequent wettest year on record remind us of the high interannual variability in the California climate, and this variability – which has fundamental effects on California ecosystems – is increasing. Warmer, drier summers, coupled with the legacies of a century of sometimes misguided human management, are leading to a notable increase in the frequency, extent, and severity of forest fires in the Sierra Nevada. The recent drought added large-scale beetle-driven mortality to the mix. These and other factors are leading to possible threshold-type dynamics in montane forest ecosystems. Dr. Safford will discuss the management implications of this developing situation for the Sierra Nevada and adjoining regions, and will outline how the use of historical forest reference conditions can provide some level of guidance for forest restoration in the Range of Light.
Hugh Safford is Regional Ecologist for the USDA-Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region (California, Hawaii, Pacific territories), and a member of the research faculty in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at the University of California-Davis. Safford manages a staff of Forest Service ecologists that provide expertise in vegetation, fire, and restoration ecology, climate change, inventory, and monitoring to the 18 National Forests in the Pacific Southwest Region. The Safford Lab at UC-Davis is focused on applied ecological support to resource and fire management in California, neighboring states, and other Mediterranean climate regions. Safford is director of the Sierra Nevada section of the California Fire Science Consortium, co-chairman of the California Research Natural Areas committee, and he serves on science advisory boards for a number of national environmental collaboratives and NGOs. Safford provides international technical assistance on fire, forest management, and climate change issues in partnership with the US-Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Program of the Forest Service; recent projects include fire management planning in northern Mexico, climate change adaptation in SE Brazil, and forest restoration in North Africa and the Levant. Safford is a current Fulbright Global Scholars Program fellow, studying post-fire ecosystem restoration practices in the Mediterranean Basin. Safford grew up in SW Montana, he has lived in California since 1986 and currently splits his time between Davis and the Lake Tahoe Basin.
The Alpine Biomass Collaborative (ABC) is adding its signature to the Amador-Calaveras Consensus Group’s (ACCG) letter of support for California Senate Bill 1079 which would allow CalFire to advance up to 25% of a grant prior to receiving proof of payment. This would eliminate an obstacle to small organizations that don’t have sufficient working capital to pay contractors and then wait to be reimbursed.
The July meeting is scheduled for Tuesday July 3rd at 6:00 pm at Turtle Rock Park.