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Posts Tagged: Greg Giusti

Lake County plants 100,000 seeds to reforest area destroyed by Valley Fire

Native conifer seedlings will be planted to reforest burned areas such as Cobb Mountain

Lake County community groups have raised nearly $60,000 to reforest the areas ravaged by last September's Valley Fire. The funds have allowed the greenhouse planting of 100,000 native conifer seedlings that will be ready for distribution in time for the winter 2016 planting season. The Valley Fire, which started in Cobb on Sept. 12, burned more than 76,000 acres.

In October, Greg Giusti, UC ANR Cooperative Extension director and forestry advisor in Lake County, and Korinn Woodard, district conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation District (NRCS), began to estimate the numbers of seeds needed for the first year of planting.

Dan Desmond, East Lake RCD director and UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisor emeritus (right), and Mark Egbert, El Dorado RCD manager, show ponderosa pine seedlings from this year’s crop.
“We determined that 100,000 trees could be needed this first year,” said Giusti. “We knew getting the seeds ordered and in the planting medium during the winter was the only way to have seedlings ready for planting in late 2016, early 2017.”

Two local entities have provided funds to jumpstart the much-needed reforestation in the areas affected by fire. #LakeCountyRising is a collaborative fundraising effort of the Lake County Winegrape Commission, Lake County Winery Association and Lake County Wine Alliance. The Lake Area Rotary Club Association (LARCA) is a nonprofit foundation that comprises the four Rotary Clubs in Lake County – Lakeport, Middletown, Clearlake and Kelseyville. Together they have allocated the nearly $60,000 to the East Lake Resource Conservation District (RCD) to get the seedlings planted and the program in place.

By collaborating with the El Dorado/Georgetown Divide RCD's established native-plant seed collection and propagation program, the funds have resulted in the greenhouse planting of 100,000 native conifers – mostly ponderosa pine, but also some Douglas fir and sugar pine. The species available are suitable for higher elevation burned areas such as Cobb Mountain.

“Getting our forest lands replanted as soon as possible is a cornerstone in the healing process of the spirit of these communities,” said Andy Peterson, chair of the LARCA Fire Relief Committee. “The LARCA Fire Relief Committee identified that as a top priority from day one and we are extremely pleased to be partnering with these other agencies to get that done.”

#LakeCountyRising representatives were interested in helping to support the effort, but any donation would need to go to an established organization responsible for the program. At the same time, LARCA had also identified funding for reforestation efforts as a major priority.

“An experienced agency was needed to lead this effort, and our board agreed that we had the experience and resources to make it happen, if funds were available,” said Charlotte Griswold, East Lake RCD president.

This is where #LakeCountyRising and LARCA stepped up to the plate. Timing was of the essence, as seeds would need to be purchased in time for winter planting in order to have seedling stock available by late 2016.  

“It was evident there was urgency, so we presented it to our steering committee and they wholeheartedly supported it,” said Debra Sommerfield, president of the Lake County Winegrape Commission, one of the three organizations involved in the #LakeCountyRising fundraising effort.

“The intention is to make conifer seedlings available for planting each winter for the next few years at a pace that will align with the community rebuilding process and demand,” Griswold said. “We expect to work with NRCS to start taking advance orders before the end of April and to partner with the ag and natural resources programs at area high schools to organize several community planting projects.”

 

Posted on Thursday, March 24, 2016 at 1:43 PM
Tags: Greg Giusti (14), Lake County (3), wildfire (131)

Burned forestland needs erosion protection

After a forest fire, burned trees both standing and on the ground, help protect the soil from erosion.
Many forest areas burned by wildfires this year are now facing a new threat – erosion. A UC Agriculture and Natural Resources expert says there are steps landowners can take to reduce the risk of losing soil and polluting waterways when rain falls.

“The loosened soil and ash can move quickly under proper storm conditions,” said Greg Giusti, a UC ANR Cooperative Extension forestry advisor. “Property owners should take immediate action.”

A longstanding practice in the West has been spreading grass seed after a fire, however, the seed is slow to germinate and grow during the cold months that follow fire season.

“Seeding is generally ineffective,” Giusti said. “The seed simply moves and erodes with the soil and ash following an initial rain event.”

After losing a home, homeowners may feel the need to clean up their property. However, leaving woody debris, downed trees and limbs will arrest soil movement. Stumps and standing dead trees also help protect the soil.

“The roots are still in the soil and will help hold it in place,” Giusti said. “As long as they don't pose a danger, trees should be left in place.”

Spreading rice straw or weed-free hay on the ground is another way to protect the soil from erosion. Whole bales of hay can be placed in natural drainages to slow water movement and reduce erosion. Straw wattles – long tubes of compressed straw encased in jute or another material – may be laid out across a slope and secured with stakes.

“I suggest landowners focus on areas of their property where they can have the greatest positive effect,” Giusti said. “You can't cover a whole hillside with straw. People can only do what they can do.”

An initiative to maintain and enhance sustainable natural ecosystems is part of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Strategic Vision 2025.

Posted on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at 8:31 AM
Tags: erosion (4), Greg Giusti (14), wildfire (131)

Give oaks water once a month

Even though California's majestic oak trees are generally considered drought tolerant, the last four years of well-below-average rainfall are taking a toll, reported the Sierra Sun Times.

"In some parts of the state, oaks are being deprived of water for as long as nine months, creating extreme water stress," said Greg Giusti, a forest and wildlands advisor for UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. Giusti is headquartered in the UC ANR Cooperative Extension office in Mendocino County. 

Giusti and Kris Randal, the UC Master Gardener coordinator for Mariposa County, suggest that California residents with oaks on their property give the trees a good soaking once a month during the summer.

The water should be applied around the drip line - the area below the outstretched branches - but not near the trunk. A permeable soaker hose is an ideal tool for slow application over the wide area. Allow the water to run until it has soaked down to a depth of 12 to 18 inches, which can be detected with a long probe such as a screwdriver. "If it comes up with signs of moisture at the tip, you're good," the article says.

Randal said it is important to let the soil dry out completely between waterings, because oaks are susceptible to root fungus that can grow in warm, damp soil.

Even if water is unavailable and the leaves begin to turn brown or fall, the experts suggest waiting for spring before considering removing the tree.

"If you tree leafs out, it's still alive," Randall said. "And in this drought, give it extra time to leaf out."

A large blue oak in Mariposa County.

 

Posted on Friday, August 21, 2015 at 12:58 PM
Tags: drought (162), Greg Giusti (14), Kris Randal (2), oaks (8)

Rocky Fire is raging through bone dry chaparral shrublands

Greg Giusti is a UC ANR forest and wildland ecology expert.
Northern California's Rocky Fire is roaring through shrublands that have no previous recorded history of wildfires, reported Kirk Siegler on All Things Considered. It has already burned 65,000 acres and is 12 percent contained, according to CalFire's Incident Report.

The area has been protected from fire for decades, primed for the type of catastrophic blaze California officials have been predicting.

Siegler spoke to UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension wildland and forestry advisor Greg Giusti

"We've got miles and miles of contiguous chaparral vegetation and literally there are no breaks in the vegetation," Giusti said. "It's extremely steep and, in many cases, it's a roadless area."

Four years of drought has left the vegetation bone dry.

'When these fires get to an intensity we've seen, because of the fuel loading, because of fire suppression for the last 50 or 60 years, it allows the plant communities to get so dense, so thick and so expansive that, once a fire starts, it's beyond the capabilities of human control," Guisti said.

 

Posted on Tuesday, August 4, 2015 at 4:52 PM
Tags: Greg Giusti (14), wildfire (131)

Trees dying due to drought are prone to wildfire

Fire trees dying from bark beetle infestations.
Across California, pine trees that have been weakened by the drought are having trouble defending themselves from bark beetles, causing widespread tree death. The dead trees won't cause fires, but when ignited they will be hotter and be more difficult to control, according to articles that ran over the weekend in the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat and the Desert Sun.

“Statewide, it's horrific,” said Greg Giusti, UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisor.

Max Moritz, UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist in fire ecology, described the combination of exceptionally low vegetation moisture and widespread plant deaths as "a double-barreled threat."

"On top of the dry conditions, it's been unusually hot in many, many parts of the state," Moritz said. "We do have a pretty exceptional fire season stacking up, or the potential for one."

The Los Angeles Times also covered the story earlier this month.

Scott Stephens, fire science professor at UC Berkeley, said fire suppression and harvesting have made forests more dense over the last 100 years. The increased density has made trees more vulnerable as they compete for limited amounts of water, with the weaker trees more susceptible to bark beetle infestations, he said.

“If the drought continues for another two years or longer, I expect this mortality to move throughout the state,” Stephens said. “Forests that once burned frequently with low-moderate intensity fire regimes are the most susceptible.”

Posted on Monday, May 18, 2015 at 9:28 AM
Tags: bark beetles (6), drought (162), Greg Giusti (14), Max Moritz (30), Scott Stephens (15), wildfire (131)

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