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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Mediterranean Climate Wildfires: what you can do to better protect your home and our communities

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by Sasha Berleman, Audubon Canyon Ranch fire ecologist, for Bay Nature October 24, 2017 Read full BayNature article here

We live in a landscape that is adapted to frequent fire, yet for a century we have been suppressing fire as much as possible, thinking we could do this indefinitely without consequence. As a result, most of our undeveloped lands across the Bay Area, and much of Northern California even, have accumulated unnatural fuel loads — dead woody debris and leaf material as well as encroaching trees that collect over time.

Here in the Bay Area, there isn’t a “no fire” option. Because of our Mediterranean climate — wet, cool winters and hot, dry summers — fire will always be a part of our world here. Additionally, as climate change affects our summers by extending that hot, dry season and causing hotter, drier weather within it, our fire season is getting longer and becoming more extreme….

…On the home front, make sure you are regularly cleaning and clearing debris and fuels around your home. ....go to firewise.org … great instructions for creating “defensible space,” as well as types of home construction and landscaping that can make a huge difference in how your home fares in the face of fire.

Beyond your home, voice your support for fuels treatments of all kinds across undeveloped lands. To date, land managers face immense backlash when the public hears of planned fuels treatments. It’s time to start supporting this work that so desperately needs to be done. Let your fire departments and politicians know that you support fuels treatments. Let your neighbors know how important they are. Educate yourself on the ecological adaptations of our landscapes to fire. Recommended reading: Introduction to Fire in California by David Carle....

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