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What Wildfire Research Tells Us About Fire Risk In California
Released: 10/8/2001

Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communication
119 National Center
Reston, VA 20192
Gloria Maender 1-click interview
Phone: 520-670-5596

WHAT: USGS wildfire research presentations at California’s 2001 Wildfire Conference and Public Events: Ten Years After the East Bay Hills Fire.
WHEN: Thurs., Oct. 11
WHERE: Scottish Rite Center, 1547 Lakeside Drive, Oakland, Calif.
WHO: Scientists of the USGS Western Ecological Research Center:

  • Dr. William Russell, Vegetation Change and Fire Hazard in the San Francisco Bay Area Open Spaces, 10:20 a.m. Vegetation changes in the urbanized areas of the San Francisco Bay area have resulted in increased fire hazard, according to Russell’s research. Using remote images over time to sample various vegetation types, Russell found that a significant conversion of grassland to shrubland had occurred on five of seven sites sampled. Further, computer fire simulations indicated that a higher fire intensity and flame length were associated with shrublands over all other vegetation types sampled.
  • Dr. Jon Keeley, Fire Management of California Shrublands, 3:40 p.m. Fire management of California shrublands has been influenced by policies designed for coniferous forests. Keeley found that in contrast to Western forests, fire suppression has not effectively excluded fire from California shrublands and in most cases catastrophic wildfires are not the result of unnatural fuel accumulation. Studying historical records, he found the primary drivers of large catastrophic fires to be the coincidence of ignitions with extreme weather events in which high winds drove flames across all age clases in these natural crown-fire ecosytems.

Note: Find out more about the conference at http://www.universityextension.ucdavis.edu/fire/index.htm.

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