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Posts Tagged: Tom Scott

Southern California is at risk for a giant fire, too

The Rim Fire in Stanislaus County, Aug. 2013. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons).
Responding to the giant fire that burned 39 homes and 70,000 acres in the Clear Lake area, Warren Olney of KCRW's Which Way LA asked a UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) fire expert in Southern California, "Could it happen here?"

"It happens here all the time," said Tom Scott, wildlife and urban interface UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley. (Scott is based at UC Riverside.)

He said of the 50 major fires recorded on the CalFire website, 30 were in Southern California. "It will probably happen again."

Media outlets are reporting that the Rocky Fire in Northern California is burning so hot, it is creating its own weather. Scott said the phenomenon is less likely to occur in Southern California fires.

"A lot of times our fires are coupled with Santa Ana winds," he said. "You don't necessarily see the fire creating its own wind because winds are already blowing 50 or 60 miles per hour."

One thing that can lead to particularly hot fires in the LA area is the lack of summer rain.

"This creates a very dry environment in the summertime," Scott said. "Plants can dry down to a point where they ... are very low moisture, which makes them very flammable. The other thing is, our plants don't decompose. We have a lot of biomass hanging around for a long time, sometimes centuries. When that burns, there's a tremendous amount of fuel and it causes hot and quick-moving fires."

Clearing a defensible zone around homes in fire-prone areas is one way to reduce the risk that a house will burn down. But it takes a long-term concerted effort to manage the landscape to prevent fires from becoming major conflagrations that roar from the mountains to the sea, Scott said.

"One of the things that a lot of people imagine," he said, "is where we can get back to a point where the landscape has fires that are smaller, at a time (of year) when it's not as hot and we don't have Santa Ana winds."

In the meantime, people in fire-prone areas may consider putting their irreplaceable valuables in storage from April to November, he said.

Posted on Thursday, August 6, 2015 at 3:32 PM
Tags: Tom Scott (8), wildfire (146)

Firescaping can protect homes during wildfire season

The landscape adjacent to the house is non-combustible.
Landscape + fire-prone area x protect = firescaping. The newly coined word offers hope to people who love living in wildland areas but fear a wildfire could wipe out their homes and belongings, reported Suzanne Sproul in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. The article also appeared in the Long Beach Press Telegram, the Daily Breeze and the LA Daily News.

UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) experts says its impossible to eliminate the risk, but firescaping can lessen the danger.

"I know people want to avoid moonscapes in their yards, but there are plenty of choices out there," said UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist Tom Scott.

The article suggests homeowners

  • Trim overgrown plants
  • Replace highly flammable plants and trees - such as eucalyptus and palms - with less flammable plants - such as ocotillo and Calla lilies
  • Use creative hardscapes, such as non-combustible fencing and inorganic mulches

The article included a link to UC ANR Cooperative Extension's information on fire safe landscaping.

Posted on Monday, August 3, 2015 at 1:54 PM
Tags: Tom Scott (8), wildfire (146)

Drought is a scapegoat for wildlife in urban areas

Mountain lions' range is the greatest of any large wild terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The California drought is being blamed for increased sightings of wild animals in urban areas, a situation for which humans are more likely responsible, reported Haya El Nasser on Al Jazeera America.

The story said a bear recently wandered into a Little League baseball game in San Luis Obispo and mountain lions are jumping fences in Northern California to kill goats. Experts said the sightings might be unusual, but not abnormal.

For decades, the article said, sprawling development into natural habitats has brought wild animals face to face with humans.

“In many cases, resources along the edge of the suburbs are far more reliable than resources out in the wild, because every year people are going to irrigate their fruit trees. Every year they're going to irrigate their lawns,” said Tom Scott, University of California Cooperative Extension specialist. “Animals are quick to use resources that are available.”

Scott said the drought is taking a toll on wildlife reproduction.

“This is the third year of drought, and that's three bad years of reproduction for wildlife species,” he said. “Wildlife population is starting to decline. It's attrition rather than a catastrophic drop, but if we went through another drought year, who knows?”

Posted on Thursday, June 5, 2014 at 11:03 AM
Tags: bear (1), drought (163), mountain lion (3), Tom Scott (8), wildlife (33)

More trees infested with goldspotted oak borer

When GSOB emerges from underneath bark, they leave "D"-shaped exit holes.
Two more trees in Idyllwild are infested with goldspotted oak borer, reported the Riverside Press-Enterprise yesterday. The announcement came at a community meeting over the weekend, in which Tom Scott, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Natural Resources at UC Riverside, and Kevin Turner, UC Cooperative Extension goldspotted oak borer program coordinator, joined fire and forestry officials to brief local residents about the new pest threat in the area.

Residents learned how to examine oak firewood this winter and how watch their black oaks and coast live oaks this spring for signs that they may harbor the insect. Firewood or trees suspected of being infested should be reported to (951) 659-3850, the story said. More information is available at the UC Cooperative Extension GSOB website.

Posted on Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 9:09 AM

Fevers from the Forest

The dengue mosquito, Aedes aegypti.  (Photo courtesy  of James Gathany, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Fevers from the forest... Dengue is one of them. Dengue, transmitted by the daybiting Aedes aegypti mosquito, globally infects 50 to 100 million...

The dengue mosquito, Aedes aegypti.  (Photo courtesy  of James Gathany, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
The dengue mosquito, Aedes aegypti. (Photo courtesy of James Gathany, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The dengue mosquito, Aedes aegypti. (Photo courtesy of James Gathany, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Posted on Monday, November 28, 2011 at 7:48 PM

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