Sierra Nevada

A Deep Dive Into California’s Recurring Drought Problem

Feel it yet? That dire sense of déjà vu? It probably depends on your livelihood or interests. If you’re a Bay Area boulevardier or the type once described in singles ads as a lover of long walks on the beach, you’re no doubt delighted by the unceasing blue skies and unseasonably pleasant temperatures. But it’s another matter if you’re a farmer, salmon fisherman, water agency manager, skier or whitewater kayaker. Your income—or at least, your sense of well-being— is directly determined by what falls from the sky. Read more about A Deep Dive Into California's Recurring Drought Problem »

Are Wet Winters or Drought Worse for California Fires?

Disastrous wildfires are popularly associated with drought. But the North Bay fires followed one of the wettest winters in decades.

The nightly news tends to make things even more confusing. During drought, newscasters sound the alarm about dead trees and the general flammability of parched forests. After wet winters, dire warnings are issued about the abundant growth of grass and brush that will become tinder during the hot, dry days of California’s summer and fall. So are wet winters worse for fires? Or are dry winters worse? Read more about Are Wet Winters or Drought Worse for California Fires? »

Like Fungi in the Bank: Sierra Nevada Forests Invest in Fire-Withstanding Fungi

The Rim Fire, sweeping through the Sierra Nevada in 2013, rendered 257,000 acres of vegetation into ash, razed whole stands of trees, and ranked as the third biggest wildfire in California history. But the conflagration also sparked a discovery, if you happened to be a mycologist running a field experiment in the area. UC Berkeley Ph.D. Read more about Like Fungi in the Bank: Sierra Nevada Forests Invest in Fire-Withstanding Fungi »

From the Spring 2016 War Stories issue of California.

Saving the Sequoias: The Most Magisterial of Trees in California Face a Big Risk

Ronald Reagan was (in)famously unmoved by ancient forests, claiming that “when you’ve seen one redwood, you’ve seen them all.” But most of us still feel a frisson when we stroll among old-growth trees, particularly when they’re the biggest dang trees on the planet: Sequoiadendron giganteum, otherwise known as giant sequoias. (That’s biggest by volume, by the way. Coast redwoods, Sequoia sempervirens, may be taller but typically are more slender.) Read more about Saving the Sequoias: The Most Magisterial of Trees in California Face a Big Risk »

Rim Fire Reprise Warning: Restoring Forests the Wrong Way May Fuel Future Fires

As the U.S. Forest Service finalizes plans to restore forests torched in last year’s Yosemite-area Rim Fire—the third largest in state history—conservationists are worried that the scheme skimps on environmental protection. Also concerned is one of the state’s top forestry experts, a UC Berkeley professor who warns that replanting trees the traditional way will simply sow the seeds for the next conflagration. Read more about Rim Fire Reprise Warning: Restoring Forests the Wrong Way May Fuel Future Fires »

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