Fire Management in California's Chaparal: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District conducted a controlled burn of central marine chaparral at Fort Ord, Calif., Oct. 15, to expose unexploded ordnance at the formerly utilized defense site. The burn, carefully coordinated with local agencies, lasted less than two hours and was timed so that prevailing winds would help blow the smoke away from population centers. The controlled burns are part of a comprehensive ordnance removal program at Fort Ord, which closed in 1994 under recommendation from the Base Realignment and Closure Commission. (U.S. Army photo/Released) Animals Biology Environment 

Fire Management in California’s Chaparral Harms Birds

By Neha Jain @lifesciexplore California suffered its largest and most destructive wildfires in 2017. Victims included hundreds of wild animals. When the blazing fires were finally extinguished, the surviving animals—including birds—were forced to find new homes. Now, for the first time, researchers investigating the effect of fire management practices on birds in California’s chaparral have found that one practice known as mastication, which consists of mechanically crushing vegetation to remove fuel, threatens bird communities. “The best available science tells us that managing chaparral imperils wildlife and increases fire risk,” says…

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California’s Urban Forests Have Lowest Tree Cover per Resident Botany Environment 

California’s Urban Forests Have Lowest Tree Cover per Resident

By Neha Jain @lifesciexplore California’s urban forests are not just a pretty sight; they are an asset valued at a whopping $181 billion, finds a new study. But, according to the study, the state’s urban tree cover at 90.8 square meters (109 square yards) per city resident is the lowest among all US states. The good news is that there are 236 million spots available for more trees to be planted. The study finds that urban forests cover 15 percent of the urban area in California, consisting of 173 million…

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Pikas spend the summer gathering grasses and wildflowers to store for winter food. When summer temperatures are too high, the pikas can’t forage. (Photo by Chris Ray) Animals Environment 

Climate Change Threatens California Pikas

By Kate Stone The American pika is a small animal with a big personality that has long delighted hikers and backpackers. Sadly, pikas are disappearing from low-elevation sites in California mountains, and the cause appears to be climate change, according to a new study from the University of California at Santa Cruz. Researchers surveyed 67 locations where pikas have been known to live and found that the animals have disappeared from ten of them. That’s a 15 percent decrease. Pika populations are predicted to go locally extinct in areas with…

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