The Past, Present & Future of Fire Ecology in the Golden State
Fire is a hot button issue in California, with over 2 million households living in high or extreme risk of wildfires. In 2018, California experienced 8,054 wildfires, with over 1.8 million acres burned. All of the top 10 costliest wildland fires in U.S. history occurred within the state of California. Yet fire in California is nothing new. Our habitats have developed alongside continual exposure to fire and people have managed our state’s landscapes with fire for millennia.
During this lecture, fire ecologist Tom Parker will present an overview of the California landscape, exploring how climate, soil variation, and plant adaptations to fire impact the frequency and severity of wildfires in California. A panel discussion will follow with representatives from the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, CalFire, and the County of Santa Cruz. During this discussion we will explore the benefits and dangers of California wildfires, past and current management tactics, disaster preparedness in Santa Cruz County, and fire resiliency in California.