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Conference on California Fires, March 4-5

UCR-Organized Conference on California Fires Scheduled for March 4-5

Two-day meeting in Palm Desert, Calif., will address fire preparation, impacts, recovery and outreach

(February 19, 2008)

2003-2006 fire areas in Southern California.Enlarge

2003-2006 fire areas in Southern California.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Damage to homes and businesses by wildfires can amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. Just in California, a region characterized by drought, hot weather and fierce Santa Ana winds, wildfire losses exceeded $60 million in 2006, destroying more than 430 structures.

In addition, nearly 560,000 acres of wildlands were burned in Southern California in 2007, destroying habitat for plants and animals and creating landslides that threatened urban and wildland habitats.

Now a two-day conference, organized by UC Riverside scientists, will focus on key aspects of California fires, such as preparing for fires, recovering from them and assessing their impact.

The 2008 Natural Resources Coordinating Conference, sponsored by the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, is scheduled for March 4-5, 2008, at the UCR Palm Desert Graduate Center, 75-080 Frank Sinatra Drive, Palm Desert, Calif. It is titled “Fires in California: Preparation, Impacts, Recovery, and Outreach.”

Starting at 8 a.m. on March 4, participants will go on a four-hour field trip to a recently burned area in Southern California. Later, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., they will break into workgroups at the UCR Palm Desert Graduate Center for discussions. A poster session is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the center.

On March 5, the conference will offer a series of lectures from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on California fires. The lectures are grouped into three sessions: preparation for fire; fire impacts and recovery; and integrating fire issues through Cooperative Extension, the educational arm of the University of California.

“We have selected speakers to discuss a wide range of fire-related topics at the conference, including why some houses burn in a wildfire while others are spared; maintaining fuel breaks around structures; whether the practice of seeding burned areas is effective after a fire event; what some good, fire-safe landscaping practices might be; and ecological and environmental drivers of fire frequency,” said Edith Allen, a professor of plant ecology and a cooperative extension research specialist in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences who is organizing the conference along with Thomas Scott, a natural resource specialist at UCR. “The conference will also focus on how information on fires and fire safety can be effectively communicated to members of the public.”

The Natural Resources Coordinating Conference has met annually for the past fifteen years. Its objective is to bring together the workgroups, special projects, and Agriculture Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension academics working in the broad area of natural resources.

The Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources is a statewide network of University of California researchers and educators dedicated to the creation, development and application of knowledge in agricultural, natural and human resources.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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