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Hugh Safford

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The Sierra Nevada region is critical to the environment and economy of California. Its places and peoples provideessential natural resources including fresh water, clean power, working lands, and famous wilderness. The regionencompasses tremendous geographical, climatological, and ecological diversity that spans majestic mountains todeep desert basins. The climate consists of cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers with large differences due tolatitude (e.g., the southern Sierra is snowier than northern Sierra) and topography (e.g., the Westside is wetter thanthe Eastside). Variability is another notable feature of the climate with the region experiencing some of the largestyear-to-year climatic fluctuations in...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation
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California - one of the nation's most populous states - hosts extensive public lands, crown-jewel national parks, and diverse natural resources. Resource managers in federal, state, tribal, and local agencies face challenges due to environmental changes and extreme events such as severe droughts, heat waves, flood events, massive wildfires, and forest dieback. However, state-of-the-art research that could aid in the management of natural resources facing these challenges is typically slow to be applied, owing to limited time and capacity on the part of both researchers and managers. This project aims to accelerate the application of science to resource management by facilitating the translation and synthesis of...
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In 2017, California was experiencing its most severe drought in over a millennia. Low rainfall and record high temperatures resulted in increased tree mortality and complete forest diebacks across the West. Though land managers scrambled to respond, they lacked information needed to make informed decisions. Focusing on California’s central and southern Sierra Nevada Mountains, this project seeks to determine whether a key forest management practice – forest thinning via prescribed fire – can help forests better survive drought. Prescribed fire is commonly used in the western U.S. to remove potential wildfire fuel, such as small trees and shrubs. It is also thought that this act of selectively removing trees helps...
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California is a world biodiversity hotspot, and also home to hundreds of sensitive, threatened, and endangered species. One of the most vulnerable ecosystems in California is the “sky island” montane forests of southern California, forests of conifers and hardwoods located only in high-elevation mountain regions. Montane forests serve many important ecosystem functions, including protecting the upper watersheds of all the major rivers in Southern California. Yet human use, invasive species, droughts, fires, and now climate change are increasingly threatening the sensitive ecosystem. A major obstacle to the sustainability of montane forests in southern California is the absence of a coordinated strategic conservation...
Large, severe fires are becoming more frequent in many forest types across the western United States and have resulted in tree mortality across tens of thousands of hectares. Conifer regeneration in these areas is limited because seeds must travel long distances to reach the interior of large burned patches and establishment is jeopardized by increasingly hot and dry conditions. To better inform postfire management in low elevation forests of California, USA, we collected 5‐yr postfire recovery data from 1,234 study plots in 19 wildfires that burned from 2004–2012 and 18 yrs of seed production data from 216 seed fall traps (1999–2017). We used these data in conjunction with spatially extensive climate, topography,...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation
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