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The Ecological Benefits of Large, Intense Wildland Fires

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As the California drought continues, with the severity deemed extreme or exceptional, we are all bracing for an early and intense fire season. Understanding forest fires; the devastation and the benefits, is the topic of the next Sierra Science Series presentation at the Sierra College Grass Valley Campus. Titled The Ecological Benefits of Large, Intense Wildland Fires, the presentation and discussion will be held on Tuesday evening March 10, from 6:30-7:30 pm, in the Multipurpose Center, building, N-12. This presentation is free, and the public is welcome and encouraged to attend. Please come early for a meet and greet and refreshments at 6:00 pm.

Forest and fire ecologist, Dr. Chad Hanson will discuss the ecological importance of mixed-intensity fire--including small and large high-intensity fire patches--for biodiversity and the ecological health of conifer forest ecosystems. The discussion will highlight a particular habitat created by high-intensity fire, "complex early seral forest", which is the rarest, most biodiverse, and most threatened of all forest habitat types in the Sierra Nevada, and throughout the western United States. Numerous rare and declining wildlife species depend, in one way or another, upon this habitat, yet there are no meaningful protections for it in current forest plans. Dr. Hanson will also discuss the substantial disparity between the representations made in the press by the U.S. Forest Service and the timber industry regarding some recent large fires, such as the Rim fire and King fire, versus the on-the-ground ecological reality, which presents a very different picture.

About our presenter Dr. Chad Hanson:

Chad HansonChad Hanson is the director and staff ecologist of the John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute. He has a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of California at Davis, with a research focus on fire ecology in conifer forest ecosystems. Studies published by Dr. Hanson cover topics such as: habitat selection of rare wildlife species associated with habitat created by high-severity fire; post-fire conifer responses and adaptations; fire history, especially historical versus current rates of high-severity fire occurrence; and current fire patterns. Dr. Hanson lives in the San Bernardino mountains of southern California, and conducts research in conifer forests of the western United States, primarily in forests of California.

The Nevada County Campus is located at 250 Sierra College Drive, Grass Valley, CA 95945. There is a $3 parking fee on campus. Parking permits are available for purchase at the dispenser located at the main campus entrance. For more information about this seminar and others in this series, contact the series coordinator, Jason Giuliani at: jgiuliani@sierracollege.edu.

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